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It was the prestigious Erasmus Mundus scholarship which brought Kennedy Okello Were all the way from Kenya to Sweden. Having studied geography for four years in his home country, he decided to apply for the Master’s programme in Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and Management (GEM). Within the programme Kennedy Okello Were studied at a number of European universities, including Lund.
“I anticipated an internationally competitive research environment and an education that is relevant to the job market, not to mention a vibrant multi-cultural student community. And, I must concede that I got more than I had bargained for, since Lund University had all this to offer and more”, he says.
The Swedish study methods differed in various ways from those Kennedy Okello Were was used to from his time at university in Kenya. Among other things, he found the lecturers were very good at balancing theory and practice on the Master’s programme.
“In my country, there is always the tendency to focus more on theory rather than practice. This is largely due to inadequate facilities at most institutions of higher learning”, he says.
“What is more, at Lund University the small class sizes provided an ideal environment for personalised teaching and development of close rapport with the lecturers, which is a rare thing in a public university in Kenya.”
Kennedy Okello Were is currently working as a researcher at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), a semi-autonomous government institute responsible for conducting research on agriculture in the country. He believes that his studies at Lund University have greatly helped him get to where he is today.
“Absolutely, especially in terms of career progression. Prior to joining Lund University for the Master of Science programme, I worked at KARI as a research assistant, but when I returned to my country after graduation, I was promoted to the position of research scientist. Thus, I now play a leading role in the implementation of research projects thanks to the thorough knowledge, skills and experience that I gained at Lund University and the other three European universities that jointly offered the programme.”
Lund is known for its vibrant student life. Did you get involved at all?
“My involvement was mainly through the efforts of the devoted mentors that I was assigned upon arrival; they ensured that I attended a couple of parties at the nations and in student halls of residence, cultural events such as Valborg and other social activities. I also travelled within and outside Sweden to enrich my cultural experience.”
Previous studies: BA in Geography; MSc in Geo-information
Science and Earth Observation for Environmental Modelling and
Management; and Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Doing in five years’ time: “I will have earned a PhD degree and be playing an active role in the domain of scientific research and academia with a view to finding sustainable solutions to the complex environmental challenges of the 21st century, as well as imparting knowledge and skills to the younger generation who are deemed to be the leaders of tomorrow.”
The best thing about Lund University: “The mode of delivery of the Master’s programme that I studied, in combination with the dedication, professionalism and competence of the academics, and the conducive learning environment of international calibre and character.”