, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3- To many Kenyans, it’s safe to assume that Australia was just another far-flung continent they wouldn’t tell much about, yet when Kenyan-born Lucy Gichuhi won the Senatorial seat for South Australia in 2017, many developed an interest in the country.
Shattering ceilings, she became the first Senator of African descent thrusting the country into the limelight just like Barrack Obama did when he became the US President in 2008.
It’s her story, moving to a foreign land with her family in 1999, defying odds, finding her voice and eventually making history that has raised curiosity among Kenyans about Australia.
According to research findings, when Kenyan students are looking to further their education abroad, the UK, US, Canada and Australia are the most common options. Australia, in particular, has consistently attracted Kenyans who prefer the favourable weather and flexible study/work programs and regulations.
With the US recently experiencing tense race relations as immigration rules are being tightened under President Donald Trump, perhaps more Kenyan students should think of following Senator Gichuhi.
With the blood of Kenya flowing in one Australian Senator, the prospect of Kenyans accessing education there is no longer such a far-fetched dream.
Options Education Agency, based at The Mall in Westlands, is one organization that has dedicated its resources to actualize the dreams of many Kenyans who wish to seek knowledge in Australia—and has so far helped many secure university places there.
Hellen Meria, the founder and Managing Director of Options Education Agency says the dream to start an agency was birthed through her own experiences; navigating turbulent waters to eventually settle down in that land then she decided to give back.
That experience sparked a fire in her to start an agency that would remove the headache of relocating to Australia for many Kenyans.
Helen founded Options Education in 2009 and has been assisting international students in beginning and adjusting to life in Australia ever since. “I’m committed to providing students with the right information, advice and support to ensure they exceed their study goals.”
When she left Kenya, she wanted a better education for her children whom she says “went through tertiary education and now work in Australia.”
“I’ve been there for 16 years. I left here as a young mother. I got attracted by the package there because of education for my children,” the entrepreneur and international advocate said.
Hellen told Capital FM News that the agency helps students willing to study in Australia by providing assistance for all stages of the application process.
“The challenge is moving there because how do you know a good package in a world of many quacks nowadays?” she asked, and assured that “we negotiate good packages with institutions in Australia.”
The process of application for a University degree abroad can be a life-changing decision depending on how you do it, she says.
“International study is a rewarding experience. With some of the world’s top tertiary institutions, studying in Australia will allow you to meet and exceed your educational goals,” said Meria.
With the recent outcry in the quality of graduates in Kenya and the commercialization of higher education, she says that casting the net wider should be on the list of most students in Kenya.
“We have seen a lot of graduates who are still looking for work. If they only knew that there are many options out here, people would go for them,” she said, adding that “Options Education Agency carefully selects their partnering tertiary institutions, giving you the best opportunities available in Australia. With a thorough knowledge of the Australian education and migration framework, the team are ready to answer all of your questions.”
“Going to study abroad opens one’s horizon and unlock potential. Exposure has worked miracles for those who have travelled wider.”
Radiating a sense of pride, she said that the world is a global village where people can move and adjust without feeling they have to be stuck in their homes even when life is not going on well.
“One of my nephews used to work here earning only Sh3000 per month selling baking stuff, now he is a permanent resident of Australia and a professional. His life has changed,” she said giving one success story of her work.
She seems to have been charmed by the continent gave the amount of confidence she places on this country when she talks.
“Australia remains one of the best countries in terms of studies because when you finish your studies, the government is happy to give two more years for students to try what they have learnt and they can also choose to work there,” she said.
Armed with her own experience of adjusting to a new culture, she says that the challenges inspired her kind of agency that “doesn’t drop people abroad like a hot potato once they land.”
“Helping with program identification and course counseling in University and visa applications is important. But it’s also important to continue assisting the students with extensive on-ground support,” she said.
Options Education offers students handcrafted pathways to study in Australia, with Meria saying they “carefully select our partner institutions to ensure each student is on the right track to success. Our expert team will guide you in making the right decision for your future.”
The Agency was established in 2009 and so far more than 3000 students have been assisted by the agency to study in Australia.
“Our dedicated team in Kenya and Australia can provide assistance for all stages of the application process, to both on- and off-shore students, and at all tertiary entry-levels. We understand the difficulty in studying away from home, therefore we make each student a priority. We will ensure that your student experience is as smooth and as rewarding as it should be,” she said.
At least 300 students are assisted by the agency annually to study in Australia.