• Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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25 years after his father left GWU, Aliyu to give speech at Commencement

Yahya Aliyu

Yahya Aliyu, a Nigerian-American master’s graduate of George Washington University (GW) has been selected as the student speaker for Commencement on the National Mall on May 19, 2024, an event inviting graduates from universities all over the US for a collective ceremony.

Aliyu was selected to give the commencement speech after a three-round process in front of both peers and university officials.

Being involved in numerous ventures at GW while also being described as an exemplary student by the University, he saw it as an opportunity to address and inspire his peers, who share a passion for creating change and realising a more just world.

“It’s just such an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address your peers who are so accomplished, dedicated and motivated, and you have the opportunity to leave a lasting message that you hope will galvanize them,” Aliyu told GW.

Aliyu’s father, Zakari Aliyu, a highly experienced physician with about thirty years of vast clinical experience is also an alumnus of The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he earned his Master of Public Health (MPH) in 1999.

A chip off the old block

Aliyu was 7 years old when his father moved the family from Washington, D.C. to rural Nigeria so he could provide qualitative health care to underserved communities.

Eventually, Zakari was invited to build up a new public hospital in the region, becoming its CEO and medical director for 5 years.

His extensive clinical and research pursuits led to leadership roles at ABU-NIH and the Cheboskary/Russian Federation where he was a senior collaborative international researcher, coupled with six years of heading medical missions to Saudi Arabia

The master’s graduate from Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Nigeria was also a Professor of Medicine, Hematology & Oncology, at Howard University/HUH in Washington, DC.

Zakari and their son returned to Maryland, U.S. where Aliyu enrolled in a high school.

After graduation, Aliyu says his father gave him complete freedom in choosing a college but wanted his alma mater of GW to be under consideration.

“[My dad] didn’t care where I applied, but GW being on the list was non-negotiable,” Aliyu said. “In hindsight, it seems like he was a clairvoyant.”

Now, Aliyu will not only join his father as a GW master’s alumnus, but he will also be the student speaker at Commencement on the National Mall on Sunday, May 19.

Experience and service

Like his father, Aliyu’s adventures before graduation spotlight him as a future leader and promising talent. During his study years at GW, he interned at the White House under the Office of the Chief Statistician of the United States.

Concurrent with his work in Deloitte Consulting’s health practice, he manages financial operations for his family’s nonprofit, the Aliyu Memorial Foundation, based in Nigeria.

He also serves as a GW Upstart Commissioner through the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, where he reviews and recommends grants for the allocation of up to $75,000 in funding for student-led social innovation service projects.

While at GW, he also co-founded a nonprofit dedicated to promoting grassroots entrepreneurship among students and did well at venture competitions such as Pitch George and the George Hacks Medical Solutions Hackathon.

He also attended the Summer Venture in Management Program at Harvard Business School.

Aliyu believes the coursework and experiences at GW have set him up well to tackle his career intentions of improving access to qualitative and humane care, optimising healthcare delivery and tackling global health challenges.

“I’ve taken courses ranging from differential equations to political philosophy; I’ve been exposed to so many different modes of thinking, perceiving and operating in the world,” he said.

“Taking this litany of diverse courses has really inspired me to pursue a career where I would be able to foster those collaborative approaches.”