“BREAKING NEWS!!!! The Cabinet Secretary of Education is set to announce the K. C. S. E 2019 examination results this afternoon. For the candidates who sat for their exams, this is a defining moment towards a future they have so much awaited. For parents, this is a time to hope and pray even harder.”
Those were the words from the news presenter at a local radio station that jolted me out of my academic slumber. I had rested enough. I had been care-free. I was in my own world, but not any longer!
I received the results, and as expected, I had done exceptionally well. Jubilations were all over the atmosphere but the elephant in the room stood staring. Grades were good and options were several but what was the initial goal?
From a young age, I had desired to be a pilot. I had dreamt so much that it became second nature. I walked, talked, slept and ate aviation. It was my fabric. I don’t know whether it was a coincidence or just a way of the universe communicating to me; my name is Ndege – a Swahili word for Airplane.
That aside, time came and the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service (KUCCPS) expected me to fill in the courses I desired to pursue at the higher level of education. Aviation was off the table as the cost was way beyond my “networth”. I had a hidden passion for law and journalism thus they formed my first and second choices.
With the remaining slots, I had to think long and hard. Engineering came screaming from the mouths of relatives who saw it as a luxurious entity. I was open to exploring this option but on one condition; it would eventually lead to aviation.
Your guess is as good as your neighbor’s. Aeronautical engineering was the immediate call. Based on research and expert advice, it had no market nor did it have good grounds in Kenya. Then it happened! From a movie I had watched, I had heard of geographers who helped soldiers navigate terrains and analyse battle grounds during war; this triggered my thinking. I was thrilled as I hesitantly explained the concept to my brother and mentor. After a short while of listening and consulting with our good friend google, we got the name. ‘Geospatial Information Science and Remote Sensing’. That name was long and tedious. Nobody in my circle of friends had heard of it. It was a new concept to me and to many others out there. Time to explore! After a period of research and consultation, I settled on it as a last resort and selected it to help complete the list. Little did I know that the stars had aligned and my fate had been sealed.
“Congratulations! You have been selected to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Geospatial Information Science and Remote Sensing at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology.” This message from KUCCPS left me dumbfounded as the reality of the hour brushed my face gently into the brightness of day. I had to let it sink. This was a fairy tale that I would put an end to the very moment I got a chance. It was just unbelievable. It was confusing.
On 11th November, 2020 in the evasive hours of the dew, I hit the road running. “Welcome to campus life brother”, my brother jeered as he teased me into action. The first lecture was one of the longest I have ever sat through in my life; lost in thought and beaten by fatigue. What other death wish could someone make if not that.
It is now my third year since I joined the Institute of Geomatics, GIS and Remote Sensing at DeKUT. It has not been a walk in the park. The journey is challenging but you cannot afford to quit. As time has gone by, I have learnt to take in a few bitter truth pills and put aside the fallacies of my youth. I have embraced transition and the reality that things will not always go my way. Better still, I have embraced that what I may think is my way may not be the best way for me; or if you like, the God chosen path for me. I have grown and learnt that the true value of a programme lies in the personal drive of the student and what they are determined to get out of it. At first, it may seem as though there is no hope but there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
In the first few days and even weeks of campus, a greater percentage of students wonder what they are doing in their respective programs. It is a common feeling that is very normal. As time goes by, your interest grows, your passion is ignited and sooner or later you get it figured out. My experience as a geospatial engineer in the making has been awesome. I have had a few revelations and some good thrills about the future. I have even learnt that what I am studying can actually be a means to an end – Aviation. Through this programme, I could still end up as an aviator. What an amazing revelation!
GIS and Remote Sensing is a vast profession that is applicable in almost all fields. With the right guidance, one is limitless. The options are vast, way more open than the skies and you know what? The future is bright for those that are open to exploring the infinite capabilities within themselves and in the universe.