Alumni Newsletter nº 7 – Summer 2023

Dear Alumni,

Hopefully this finds you well as we look forward to summer here in the south of Spain. As we complete another academic year and welcome the current Year 13 students into our alumni, we also see our current principal, Mrs Batchelor handing over the reins of the College to Mr Escobar as she heads for retirement.  Many of you will know Mrs Batchelor from your time here, since she arrived as Head of Primary School in 1998. We all wish her well and good health as she now will be able to spend even more quality time with her family here on the coast.

We are looking into a better way of keeping you all involved, since as the stories below show, our alumni have gone on incredibly diverse and interesting journeys since their time at the College. With this amount of talent and experience, we would like even more involvement from our ex-students in shaping the futures of current pupils. Watch this space to see how we are going to improve our networking and get more of you actively involved.

We have three alumni, who tell us their stories and share their fond memories of their time at Aloha College.

Joachim Bjorkmann – Graduated 2008

Joachim is currently based in the Danish embassy in London, working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. In his role as Relationship Manager, he seeks to attract foreign direct investment into Denmark, especially from the technology sector.

“It still boggles my mind that it has been 15 years since I graduated from Aloha College in 2008 – I don’t feel 15 years older and I like to think I don’t look 15 years older, but it is an undeniable fact that time has absolutely flown by. I look back very fondly on my 3 years at Aloha; what stands out to me aside from my friendships is how much I valued my relationships with the teachers and how well I got along with them. That made Aloha special to me.

I was one of those students who had no idea what I wanted to do after Sixth Form, but knew that I wanted to go to University to get a degree with good transferable skills so ended up doing a History degree at the University of Exeter in the hopes that three years of a degree would give me some idea about what career I wanted to have. It didn’t, and as such I ended up campaigning to be Student Union President, winning by several hundred votes. I spent the next 12 months as President (a salaried role, so technically my first job) where I represented the students socially, academically and politically and had oversight over the £20m budget allocated for my campus. After I finished my term, I still wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do but was offered an opportunity to work for a wealth management company in Malta – I spent two years working there and getting my Diploma of Investment Advice and had a wonderful time. I still felt the need to make myself more competitive though, and missed the UK so I applied and got on to the MSc in Management at Bristol University in 2015.

After graduating from my MSc, I spent months fervently applying for any graduate scheme I could come across ranging from Dyson to BMW to HSBC. I finally found success with Goldman Sachs in London who hired me into their Operations division, first working in Trade Support and then moving over to their PWM middle office. Operations wasn’t really for me, so after 18 months I applied for a role at the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that popped up. Since 2019 I’ve been at the embassy in London, working as a Foreign Direct Investment specialist and recently transitioned my role into working specifically with Quantum Technology and building key international partnerships and cross-border relationships between DK-UK public and private stakeholders.

My message is that it’s OK to have a squiggly career. It’s OK to not know what you want to do. I love my current job, it is so exciting, but it’s taken me getting to the age of 32 (almost 33) before I finally realised that I want to work in Quantum Technology and use my communications and relationship skills to create value in that sector. The most important thing is believing in yourself and being persistent – take the initiative, be proactive. What I do now wasn’t in my job description, I just started doing things that created value for people in my own way which allowed me to mould this role. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. I got a job at Goldman Sachs with 29 IB points. Grades are important but they aren’t the be all and end all – your will, determination, and drive matter just as much.”

 

Lola Faura Práxedes – Graduated 2014 

Lola is now a professional Food Stylist, Drink Stylist and Home Economist based in London, after training as a professional chef at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.

“Aloha College was my home from Year 1 all the way to Year 13 and I can’t believe that it has been almost 9 years since I graduated! I have thought a lot about what to write in this piece, and although the most natural thing to do is to explain my journey post Aloha. However, I wanted to show you more. I want to let you know the two most important things Aloha College gave me and that I am sure it will give to your child too.

Opening the doors to the world.

Aloha enabled me to grow in a multicultural international environment, and ultimately seek to continue living that experience after graduation. I, like many of my former classmates, was never afraid to travel, to move abroad, to start my life again in a new city, and I often asked myself why? Why were others who I met in university or later in life more sceptical about change than I was? It really all came down to Aloha. Growing up surrounded by friends whose families had travelled the world is essentially like engraving in your child’s mind that they can build their home anywhere in the world. That their friends can come from and be found in any and every country they travel to. I guess this is why I didn’t think twice before moving to Sydney, which is pretty much on the other side of the world, or why later I had no problem moving my business to London when Covid occurred and I could no longer stay in Australia. Life is an endlessly changing beautiful thing in which sometimes you get to choose to make a change, and sometimes the circumstances push you to make one. In both scenarios I felt privileged of what Aloha had given me: the mindset that anywhere in the world can be home.

You can be The Best mindset.

Aloha is the most unique and personalised form of education that I have ever received. After completing a University Degree, a Masters, and other online courses I can truthfully say that none of it compared to Aloha. The teachers at Aloha are devoted to their students, they truly care about each one of them and there is no better proof of this than the fact that many of us keep in touch with our former teachers and visit the school when we can to see them. At Aloha every child will have all the tools they need to find what makes them unique. They will be pushed to excel; to be the best. This mindset can seem like a lot to be placing into a child’s mind, but I cannot be thankful enough for it. Pushing for more, working hard to achieve the highest goals is truly a life changing mindset that makes anything possible. It has travelled with me all the way from university, through my first working years in the corporate world, and now as a business owner with the freedom to work for myself in something I truly love and am passionate about.

 

So, in all, Thank You Aloha. I would not be me without you.”

 

Sandra Overgaard – Graduated 2003 

Sandra, one of our former head students, is now a parent of two Aloha College children, Olivia and Hugo, in years 7 and 4 respectively.

“I don’t just think of Aloha College as the school that I attended for 11 years. During my time there, Aloha subconsciously became more like a guiding voice in my head that still to this day is present. Naturally there are parallels that can be drawn from my education sown at Aloha to what I have harvested of benefits useful in my current day-to-day business life. As I start my day by fastening my surgical hat carefully tucking in my hair, I hear Mr. Burnett somewhere lurking. There is no forgetting how it was impossible to sneak unbrushed hair or an untucked shirt by Mr Burnett’s peering eyes. He stood tall at the entrance gate as he non-discreetly scanned pupils stepping off the bus every morning. His loud “Good morning” salute drummed and his authoritarian voice immediately made you automatically walk just that bit more upright. I remember squinting sideways with a sigh when hearing his favourite phrase “If you look smart, you will think smart”. Yet, it resides with me to this day and I am reluctant to admit that I have found myself huddle my 12 employees together at both my dental practices and repeating that same exact phrase to make sure they looked and therefore felt part of the team spirit that I wanted to convey. Studying first at the University of Copenhagen and later at Copenhagen Business School I found I had a recurrent advantage compared to other students not having undergone a British international schooling. Be it juggling Excel functions at high speeds learnt through one of our school Cambridge courses or giving a speech in front of my peers translating in all of my three fluent languages without hesitation. I believe that I still carry on many of the same principles that were at times hard earned and learned but after much reflection shown to be valuable. From my much-loathed drama lessons where our good willed Mrs.Dunkley made me overcome my natural shyness to my strong determination to never give up through Mr. Baldwins’ many cross-country runs.

As my last act as head girl at Speech Day I carried out an idea that I had brewed since the beginning of IB. I wanted to acknowledge all the teachers from 6th form by individually presenting and decorating them with a much-deserved rosette. Despite being young and inexperienced, I was aware of the infectious passion with which the teachers had taught their subjects and how their encouragement and inspiration had meant a great deal. It is subsequently oddly surreal to only last week attend parents’ meetings and be transported 30 years back in time where I once again find myself sat across from one of my enthusiastic teachers. However, the teacher who once was my teacher is now my son’s. Not surprisingly, there are still a good handful of teachers who I had the privilege of being taught by who are still going strong making their mark at Aloha. The new teachers I have encountered are definitely up to par and continue the same aura that Aloha is known for.

Today it is Mrs. Batchelor who carries the baton and welcomes the parents, teachers and students alike by the school gates in the morning with her contagious energy and incredulous hands-on dedication to continue to modernise and lift Aloha College to “be its best”. Obvious to everyone, the children adore her and the parents are equally delighted and eager to greet her. She always keeps us parents chuckling in assemblies and she will be the residing voice in my son’s and daughter’s head in years to come.”

 

Millie Bobby Brown

Some of our graduating class from 2022 perhaps remember when they were in the nursery class together in 2008? One of their classmates has now become an internationally famous actor; Millie Bobby Brown. Her family returned to England at the end of that school year, before they eventually moved to Florida, when Millie was eight years old.  Millie was launched to fame in the role of Eleven, in the Netflix sci-fi horror series, Stranger Things.

Millie Bobby Brown in the junior school class photo of 2008 and posing with current pupil Thor Kaste.

As always, you are welcome to come and visit us, and if you would like to share your experiences with our current pupils, that would be a fabulous way for you to give something back. Just let us know that you are willing to come in. Stay in touch and take care.

Mr Kevin Wade

alumni@aloha-college.com 

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