Contrary to popular belief, campus life can sometimes get boring especially when the sem is just starting. But while many students keep off campus until some action kicks in, one bored Daystar Uni student used his free time to create an incubation and mentoring programme that has seen hundreds of students mentored by invited guest professionals.
When Wesonga Okumu reported back at Athi River in early 2012 after taking a one year break, he wasn’t prepared for what he saw. Instead of a vibrant and active Athi River campus, the fouth-year communication student found an almost non-existent student activity except for the occasional lectures.
“The (previous) graduating class must have left a big vacuum,” Wesonga thought. “I was bored. I had to do something.”
Wesonga revisited an idea he had back in 2010; to create a platform where students can be mentored by professionals, which will be an avenue for students to use their skills as well as encourage interaction and networking. He named the platform ‘Incubator Initiative’ and recruited 10 students in campus to help in the interview process to identify skilled students. Interaction between students and guests was designed around talk-shows and informal chats after the talks.
Acclaimed pianist, Aaron Rimbui and his wife Sarah were the first guests of Incubator Initiative on 15th February 2012. Wesonga and his team has organized five other successful ‘meet-ups’, inviting personalities including Catherine Kasuvuli, Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, Juliani and Larry Madowo.
Though Incubator Initiative has gained traction relatively fast, the team has faced financial challenges and getting a reliable PA system.
“We have been forced to dig deep into our pockets to raise money to facilitate these events,” says Wesonga.
Diana Karimi,a fourth year communication student, who is also the Incubator PR manager, admits it is tough when you host a guest only to hear negative feedback from students on Daystar corridors. She however considers it fulfilling after facing challenges and things work out in the end.
“It’s a huge learning experience, especially handling conflicts, doing set up, learning programs and organizing concerts.”
“If Incubator would have a personality, it would be all things to all men. It is that guy who knows what you need and gives it to you. If you are sanguine, it would give you Juliani, if a melancholic it would give you Aaron Rimbui complete with Jazz music. If sporty, it would give you Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee, if talkative it would give you Catherine Kasavuli and finally if opinionated it would give you Larry Madowo,” explains Diana.
Wesonga is content with the progress of Incubator and considers it a valuable phase in his life.
“I am humbled to be doing this. I may not be able to do much but I can bring people together to exercise their skills.”
His advice to campus students, “studying is just one of the things you do in school, not everything. You go to school to think and figure out yourself. It is the only place one can make mistakes and learn.”
Diana echoes the same sentiments, “Good grades will never be the thing that makes a difference. It takes one effort to put your skills out there and find your path in life.”
The boring school life at Daystar University provided an opportunity for Wesonga and his team to help other through networking and nurturing skills.
His parting shot, “Never be in a hurry to finish school but make the most of it whether to learn or teach. Take full advantage of life in Campus.”
Photos: Joseph Mararo