Where They’re Headed: Safiyah Riddle ’18

The political science major is going to Johannesburg, South Africa, to teach economics at the African Leadership Academy.

For political science major and economics minor Safiyah Riddle, the perfect post-graduate opportunity is more than worth a 15-hour flight from her hometown of New York City.

Beginning in August, Riddle will be teaching economics at the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ALA is an international boarding school with a student population that hails from over 46 countries. Its goal is to develop a network of young African leaders who have the tools to address issues they are passionate about and to generate change across the African continent through education.

In order to reach those goals, Riddle said, “the school offers classes that teach ethical and entrepreneurial leadership in addition to a standard high school curriculum.”

Riddle’s passion for learning about perspectives on African politics and cultures began in the classroom, and she looks forward to exploring the possibilities of ALA’s unique focus and course of study.

“Over the course of my four years at Haverford,” she said, “I took a number of classes that gave a unique perspective on the politics and cultures across the African continent

She cites both her “African Politics and Literature” course with Associate Professor of Political Science Susanna Wing and the guided research on Algeria that she undertook with Samuel and Etta Wexler Professor of Economic History Michael T. Rock at Bryn Mawr with inspiring her to want to experience life in Africa for herself and be a part of educating the continent’s next generation of leaders.

Riddle first found out about the opportunity to teach at ALA through friend Phoebe Miller ’15, who had incredible things to say about her experience at the school in South Africa after her return to the United States.

For Riddle, teaching economics is just one aspect of what she hopes to experience at ALA.

“I am so excited to work with such a diverse faculty and to learn from people all over the world,” she said. “I am thrilled to form connections with students who are extremely passionate and driven.”

A Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow at Haverford, Riddle eventually plans to pursue a graduate degree and a future in academia. For now, though the recent graduate is focused on teaching younger students.

“As a woman from New York City who has never been to anywhere in Africa, I was at first unsure about what I could offer high school-aged students seeking to address some of the most complex issues in the world,” she said. “However, I realized that as someone with extensive leadership training and experience from the various leadership positions that I held on and off campus, in tandem with a strong passion for the school’s goals, I was well suited to join next years cohort of [teaching] fellows.”


Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.


Photo: Safiyah Riddle ’18. Photo by Holden Blanco ’17