My name is Benson Mungai a postgraduate student at Cranfield University pursuing an MSc course in Water and Wastewater Engineering.
Before coming to Cranfield, I was optimistic about securing a professional job after graduating with a first-class Bachelor`s degree in Industrial Chemistry. However, that wasn`t the case. I developed a great interest to further my studies to strengthen my career profile in the competitive job market. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enrol for postgraduate studies due to financial difficulties. My only hope of getting a financial breakthrough would be securing a sponsorship. It was my everyday prayer to secure an opportunity of studying abroad a chemistry-related course abroad.
I came to learn about Cranfield University through Facebook. One day, I started browsing through my Facebook page and a Cranfield University advertisement captivated my attention. I remember vividly that the advert had an image of a plane with fascinating pictures of testing laboratories. Enthusiastically, I delved into the school website to get an overview of the range of offered courses among which, Water and wastewater Engineering captured my attention. I developed a strong interest in this course because of my urge to make a great impact on the lives of the suffering community, especially the larger percentage of the Kenyan population experiencing challenges of finding clean water and sanitation. I felt optimistic that this course would impact me with great knowledge and skills, vital in attaining sustainable solutions to make an impact on their lives. That marked the start of my application journey for the course and scholarship search.
The application process was challenging but interesting. I successfully submitted my application, hoping to secure a prestigious offer. Parallel to that, the Commonwealth Scholarship was ongoing, and I had approximately two months to complete my application. The mindboggling but very interesting and crucial process was the essay writing sections. I fancied the criticality behind the thinking and writing about the development impact goals that I would implement upon completion of my studies. I managed the submission before the deadline period. I started January of 2021 with super exciting news that Cranfield had approved my application. However, I was a bit worried since the offer was conditional and I was required to pay some upfront funds to secure my position. I didn’t have the finance and my only hope was in winning the Commonwealth Scholarship earlier applied.
I felt anxious while waiting in anticipation for the final scholarship verdict. A few months later, I was sent a polite apology email from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission that my application wasn`t successful. However, the email distinctively encouraged me to try next time. I sent a deferral request to the university, requesting to commence my studies in the subsequent academic year. Happy to note, that the university`s admissions considerately accepted my request. Interestingly, I came across the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship curtsy on the Cranfield University website. At first, I was reluctant to apply amidst the low moments of storms and the sad feeling that my boat of opportunities was sinking. However, this University`s advert rejuvenated my hope. I initiated the application process with great vigour and strength comparable to that of a soldier. After making my submission which was due December 2020, I optimistically felt a great feeling that my application would be among the best. At the end of the second quarter of the year 2021, I received exhilarating news from the Commonwealth Commission and Cranfield University congratulating me for qualifying through the nomination stage. Thus, I needed to prepare for my travelling abroad by sorting out various health checks, travel documents and procedures.
Travelling and living abroad as a scholar
Having accomplished every travel preparation, dawned the day for leaving my country, Kenya. I couldn’t hold in my mixed feelings of joy and anxiety. I. Upon my arrival in the UK, I was shocked by the cordial reception of Cranfield University from the airport to the university hotel room. Being in covid season, I was required to quarantine for ten days. Nevertheless, Cranfield University has a great support system. The university did great to make sure that students were safe and tension free. My quarantine period was fun enhanced by a range of interactive online activities during the induction week. Besides, I enjoyed the online interaction with other new students.
After quarantine, I found myself a free man ready to experience the new environment. I found it challenging to acclimatize to the cold weather in the initial days. However, I have enjoyed eating foods from different cultures, making new friends, travelling to different places, and being taught by a highly skilled team of lecturers. The University is nurturing me into a high-profile graduate engineer that I am proud of.
The best thing about Cranfield University is its digital library which has enhanced my reading of new books and approved research papers to gain more knowledge. I admire the nature green learning environment with the availability of every resource and support system. I take pride to be a staunch member of this great community. I heartily appreciate the impactful workshop and seminars organised by the school and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. The knowledge acquired, networking and engagements made during these events have been of great impact to me in shaping my research and development impact goals.
After completion of my studies in September 2021, I am looking forward to working with the government of Kenya, global NGOs in Kenya, CSC alumni, and other community-based organizations in Kenya to actualize my impact development goals.
I intend to apply my gained skills and knowledge to model sustainable solutions to clean water and sanitation through a circular economy-based model. Likewise, as a way of giving back to the community, I will inspire and support students from all humble backgrounds and encourage them in their journey to achieving their dreams and aspirations. I will also advocate for peace, justice, and tranquillity – an SDG that I believe is a key pillar to achieving the other SDGs.
I will heartily appreciate a chance to return to the UK to further my studies as a PhD researcher. Thank you.