Story by Lucy Wachera Kibe, Tutorial Fellow, Department of Information and Knowledge Management, The Technical University of Kenya.
I joined the Technical University of Kenya on 3rd January 2011. At that time, the institution was known as the Kenya Polytechnic University College, then a constituent college of the University of Nairobi. I was elated to have been called to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Information Science. Additionally, I was excited to live in Nairobi and enjoy all the freedoms of university life.
I must admit that Information Science was not my first degree choice. Like every other young girl, I wanted to be a doctor or, at worst, a pharmacist. However, this dream was shattered when the secondary school examination results came out. Sadly, I had not attained the cut-off point for either of my dream degree programmes. Thankfully, I was given a second chance to another set of degree programmes. I selected the Bachelor of Science in Information Science programme at the Kenya Polytechnic University College.
Many factors influenced my programme choice. The Kenya Polytechnic was a popular institution known for unrivalled technical programmes in engineering and applied sciences. Again, it was the first institution in Kenya to offer Information Science courses in the early 1980s when it launched a certificate programme in Library Science. Additionally, the Kenya Polytechnic University College was located in the central business district of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
“Every young person longed to study in the big city and enjoy the goodies that come with living in a modern city”Lucy Wachera Kibe
I also wanted to be part of Kenya’s premier academic institution, the University of Nairobi. Therefore, I was extremely excited to be selected for the course I had applied for. Finally, I was coming to live and study in Nairobi.
I enjoyed every bit of my undergraduate studies in the institution. We were the pioneer Bachelor of Science in Information Science cohort at the university. This came with a lot of pride. We were thoroughly spoilt. For instance, we went for academic trips out of Nairobi every semester. My favourite destination was the coastal city of Mombasa where we spent our evenings walking on the beach or swimming in the Indian Ocean. Who would hate such an enviable life! Besides the exciting co-curricular activities, we also got the best academic mentoring anchored on an excellent syllabus. Personally, I appreciated the delicate mix of theory and practical components of our curriculum. Another critical part of our curriculum was industry-based learning, or internships, through which we experienced the real world of work and obtained valuable technical and soft skills.
The institution, having just transitioned from a national polytechnic, the lecturers were extremely caring. We were counselled and guided to set personal goals. One of the guiding principles we were encouraged to espouse was: “what you see is what you get” and “the me I see, the me I will be”.
“This guiding principle meant that there is no magic in life. One requires vision, discipline, hard work and focus to attain anything in life”Lucy Wachera Kibe
I set my target at achieving the highest possible degree classification. My hard work paid and I graduated with a first-class honours degree in December, 2014. Armed with the first class, I was privileged to be interned at the American Resource Centre based at the US Embassy in Nairobi. Working there exposed me to some of the best information setups, services and resources. This has left an indelible mark on my professional career as an Information Scientist.
Scholarly doors opened for me in November, 2015 when I was employed by my alma mater as a graduate assistant. Given that this was a training position, I was able to enroll for my Master’s degree in Information and Knowledge Management programme in the same university. I had many study options locally and abroad but I settled for the Technical University of Kenya because the degree programme was unique and the only one of its kind in the country. Besides, given that I am a first-born, I would be able to attend to my family obligations easily. Additionally, the university would pay all my tuition fees; I only paid the statutory charges. I completed the course in record time and graduated in December, 2018. My research focus was on big data analytics.
My love for the Technical University of Kenya did not end there. Having scouted widely for doctoral programmes, I settled again for PhD in Information and Knowledge Management at the university. My choice was based on the fact that the Department has adequate capacity to mentor me. Besides, the research outlook in the department goes beyond traditional Information Science confines. This is how I ended up with a research topic on the application of big data analytics and infodemiology to cancer research in Eastern Africa. Being in the Department has also enabled me to be part of excellent research projects. The latest of these is a research project on cyber-bullying in Kenyan universities, which is funded by Facebook Inc.
I am sure my story, though different in finer details, is the story of many young people who have been lucky to pursue their education at this great institution. Importantly, I feel extremely privileged to contribute to this reputation as I mentor undergraduate students in my current position of Tutorial Fellow. Long live the Technical University of Kenya, long live the Department of Information and Knowledge Management.