Temi Akin-Aina has her sights firmly set on making the Western alumni experience the best it can be.
And as the university’s new associate vice-president, alumni relations, she understands the powerful role of education, long after graduation.
“Education changes people’s lives – with imagination, with credentials, with access to opportunities – and feeling ongoing support from their campus community,” she said.
With degrees from both Concordia (MA, history) and McGill (BA, history and political science), Akin-Aina has worked in alumni relations at both her alma maters, most recently as associate director at Concordia. In that role, she was instrumental in launching their Black Alumni Network and a Black Student Career Development Series, which provided students the opportunity to connect with alumni, gain industry knowledge, access professional mentors, and explore pathways to successful careers. She also led a subcommittee of the President’s Task Force for Anti-Black Racism, focused on fundraising and community engagement.
Earlier this year, CBC Quebec recognized Akin-Aina in its 2022 Black Changemakers series, featuring people from the province’s Black communities who are giving back, inspiring others and helping to shape the future.
“I’m delighted Temi will be joining us in alumni relations. She brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the role of associate vice-president and I am excited to introduce her to Western alumni around the world,” said Jeff O’Hagan, vice-president (university advancement).
A first-generation Nigerian immigrant who moved to Montreal to attend university, Akin-Aina has a unique understanding of some of the challenges international students face in finding their place on campus. For her, joining clubs and committees was the answer.
Akin-Aina recalls her first introduction to a purple and proud alum as the moment she realized, “Western alumni are built differently.”
“I was working on an alumni trip for McGill and one of the spouses was a Western grad. She wore her purple lanyard and Western shirts the entire trip. She was extremely proud of her Western connection, and it showed. It was clear to me then that Western alumni have a special pride and affection for their school.”
Excited to hit the ground running when she officially starts on October 17, Akin-Aina is looking forward to working with her team and leaders across campus to support the university’s strategic plan, Towards Western at 150 – and to start meeting with alumni, 322,000 strong in 160 countries worldwide.
Ultimately, she wants to be a voice for alumni and to help build a universally inclusive alumni experience.
“Higher education is a milestone experience in a person’s life. It’s where many develop and create bonds they will share with others forever. This role is about deepening that engagement while also helping to support the next generation in their careers.”