It has been great that so many of you have been in touch with us over the last year and I thank all those of you who took the time to tell us either about your experiences and those that reflected back to their time spent here at Aloha College. These shared experiences help us all feel part of something much bigger – the sense of community and belonging that the alumni association helps to foster.
Recently, during the International Women’s Day celebrations, we shared stories with our tutor groups about women that we ourselves look up to. I told my class about a particular girl who was at my primary school and who, later in her life, went on to study medicine, when our paths crossed again as we attended the same university. She was one of the top 30 mentioned in an RTVE article about women that have changed the world. It made me feel extremely proud of the fact that she had come from the same part of the small town where I had grown up, and had attended the same school. Prof. Sarah Gilbert hit the headlines last year as one of the two main scientists leading the Oxford University team that developed the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19.
As we say goodbye to our current Year 13 students and wish them well for their future, we hope that they will also stay in touch with us. We look forward to hearing about their future exploits and hope that they will also be proud of where they have come from and our shared experiences together.
Here, some of our alumni tell us about their journeys since leaving Aloha College:
Guillermo Ortuño Crespo (graduated Y13 2011)
It is hard to believe that 2021 is the 10-year anniversary of my graduation from Aloha College, where I spent 11 short years. In retrospect, it would be fair to say that my time at Aloha was critical for shaping my priorities and perception of the world. Its diversity and intenseness, both inside and outside of the classroom, unknowingly prepared me for the chapters that would follow.
A few months after graduating, I packed my bags and moved to the United States, where I pursued a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology, my longtime passion. The IB science classes I took at Aloha allowed me to skip forward and start as second year undergraduate student at 17; little did I know that this would translate in me being the youngest student in the bachelor, masters and doctoral degrees that would follow, as well as my current position as a postdoctoral research at Stockholm University. Learning Lesson #1: Apparently, in the “real world”, being the youngest in a team is not always desirable; ignore it.
After warping up my degree, I moved back to Europe, where I did a masters in Ecosystem Management of Marine Systems at the University of St. Andrews, which was a nice throwback to the days where Mr. Escobar would help us prepare for the UCAS application process. Funnily enough, I was never accepted to St. Andrews as an undergraduate student. Learning lesson #2: be patient and persevere, do not let a momentary rejection put you off.
The very same week I had to hand in my master’s thesis in the United Kingdom, I was busy attending orientation week back in the United States to start a Ph.D. program at Duke University; where I had also been rejected during the undergraduate application process (insert Learning Lesson #2). The 5 years I spent at Duke University working on international fisheries science and governance were perhaps the most transformative of my life and awarded me a whole range of experiences and opportunities that were hard to imagine a few years earlier, from teaching graduate level courses, to giving various seminars at the United Nations in New York City; quite an inconceivable thought during the afterschool Model United Nations evenings at Aloha. I defended my Ph.D. dissertation during the COVID-19 pandemic – via Zoom, of course – and packed my bags for Sweden, where I have recently started a research position at the Stockholm Resilience Centre on international biodiversity conservation.
I have to admit that my day-to-day as a marine biologist looks nothing like what I had envisioned while studying at Aloha. For instance, earlier today, I spent four and a half hours on a Zoom call with the representatives from 10 of the largest seafood corporations in the world, from Japan to Norway, as well as her Royal Highness Princess Victoria of Sweden, who also happens to be very passionate about the Ocean. Finally, Learning Lesson #3 – to the current and prospective students of Aloha College – remaining true to your passion is the only formula I have found to live a busy and fulfilling life. Just keep swimming.
Reading over this short summary of the last 10 years, it seems all too linear and easy. I can promise you it was not. Each and every academic institution I have attended has both supported me and failed me during critical times. I have come to realize that people, not institutions, is what has made my journey worthwhile; for me, it has been my family, to whom I owe every opportunity and success since I started in Miss Mary’s Year 3 class back in Aloha.
Eline Keijzer (Y11 1990)
“Born and raised in Amsterdam until 6 years of age, I moved to Marbella with my family in 1980. My twin brother Michael and I studied at Aloha College from the very first day it opened in 1982. In those days there weren’t many of us at the school and they were still doing some of the building work, but it was like a big family. I have many great memories of those days at school; when it was your birthday they would put you up on the front steps of the school where they had an assembly every morning and everyone would sing to you, it was so lovely! I have many fond memories of Aloha days. We were lucky to grow up in this gorgeous environment.
After graduating from school we went into the hostelry industry. However in 2015 I decided to make some changes in my life and choose a new path into the real estate market. Having grown up here and seeing Marbella change from a small village to a big modern town has been a magnificent journey which has given me an accurate knowledge about the area and its real estate. After traveling around the world I believe there’s no better place to live than Marbella, for countless reasons but the main one the quality of life that Marbella has to offer and I would like to pass on my experience and knowledge of Marbella to my clients to help them find their dream home and enjoy Marbella as much as I do.”
Over the last year, we have been in touch with some of our most recent graduates to ask how their studies are going and how the pandemic has impacted on their experiences. You can read their comments on the college website, by clicking on the Alumni tab. One recent graduate who is now in his last year at university also got in touch.
Angel Marco (Y13 2016)
“I graduated from Aloha College in the summer of 2016 and believe we were the first class to graduate in the fancy new sports hall!
I am now in the final year of my Automotive Engineering course with a placement year in Industry at the University of Warwick. I started University in October of 2016, shortly after finishing my IB exams in Aloha.
Being at university was a new experience but not one that I was completely unprepared for. The individual style of learning was one that I felt trained for as it was already very similar to that of many of the teachers in my IB course, in particular the style of the greatest Physics teacher to ever live, Mr. Lopez.
Studying at Warwick has been a great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed my first two years. This is something that I will always be grateful to my business teacher Mr. Wade for, as he was the one that first introduced me to Warwick and its course content. Being at university has allowed me to meet and be friends with very interesting people from all over the world, continuing what my upbringing at Aloha College encouraged.
The first year of university was one that, whilst challenging, did not intimidate me academically as I felt I had already covered much of the content being taught in the different modules that I did in IB. Particularly, in mathematics, physics and business.
After three years of studying engineering and starting in July 2019, I did a placement year at Bosch, the company popularly known for making washing machines, but which is primarily an automotive components supplier. Here I was a supply chain coordinator for prototype automotive components for the Jaguar Land Rover company. My role primarily consisted of sourcing parts that were not yet in series production and ensuring they were delivered to the correct production locations in time. During the months of peak demand my account covered over 1.5 million euros in parts. During my year I had the opportunity to be part of some crisis management teams where we dealt with everything from supplier’s production facilities going on strike and having to deal with the subsequent part shortages to dealing with the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, when this affected just China and forced them to shut down factories and limit transport, leading to further part shortages.
I have now finished my placement year and am back at university for the final year of my degree. At university I have always been a very strong part of our Formula Student team, in which we, in our own time, design, fund, build and race an electric single seater car. Our current vehicle has 106 hp and can do 0-60 in under 4s. This year I am the chief chassis engineer and along with 2 peers run the operation which has over 60 different members. This year we are working hard to prepare 2 cars, one for competition at the Silverstone Grand Prix track in July and the other for some testing and for it to be displayed at the Coventry Transport Museum.
Once I graduate from University I am looking to work where my passions lie, in the automotive and motorsport fields wherever that may take me.”
Finally, one ex-student has recently been mentioned multiple times on the recent BBC2 Springwatch TV programme, which ran for twelve episodes from 25th May till 11th of June 2021. Hannah is based in the remote Alladale Wilderness Reserve in the north of Scotland..
Hannah Kirkland (Y13 2009)
“After leaving Aloha in 2009, I’ve been working in wildlife conservation and am now working at a rewilding estate in the Scottish Highlands. I’ve recently set up a wildlife monitoring project, using remote cameras to monitor the native wildlife and it’s response to the rewilding work. Some of the footage that I’ve captured has recently featured prominently in this year’s BBC Springwatch, including footage of pine martens, mountain hares and black grouse, some of Scotland’s most iconic and rare species.”
We are always looking at ways to engage our alumni in the work of the college and wherever your journey has taken you since leaving us, get in touch on the firstname.lastname@example.org email. We would really like to hear from you.