With two scholarships and hope for a third one, one can say that luck has always been on Asha’s side. Though her first scholarship to pursue her childhood dream in medicine was cut short, her spirit to succeed in education was not dejected.
Asha Bakari Mohammed had always wanted to become a doctor and when she got a scholarship to study medicine in Russia after her O-levels, she was elated. However, her excitement would not last long as her scholarship was terminated due to inadequate funds and she was among the students sent back to their home country after only one year of study. Fate was on her side though, as she still had her first-year position unfilled at the University of Nairobi (UoN). She did not loose heart seeing that her dream to become a doctor had been shuttered, but instead took the opportunity at hand.
After a career consultation with a lecturer from Egerton University, Asha was convinced to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology and Biotechnology. Despite the unfamiliar field, Asha got more exposure on relevance of her course in agricultural, medical and industrial fields. She got to learn on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a means to enhance food security. She also discovered the use of micro-organisms in pharmaceutical drugs as well as in the manufacture of consumables. Her emphasis on effectiveness of yoghurt to the society could not be stressed enough. She highlighted on the medicinal value of yoghurt in prevention of gum disease, management of cholesterol levels as well as its scientific proven benefit to women. She attests that the relevance of microbiology cannot be underestimated.
Four years of determination fostered by a daily reading habit, saw Asha perform exceedingly well in her undergraduate studies. She emerged the best student at the School of Biological Sciences, with a first class honors (mean of 80.8), at the August 2013 UoN graduation ceremony.
University of Nairobi honored Asha for her astounding performance with a scholarship to pursue Master of Science in Microbiology and Biotechnology.
Asha attributes her educational success to God and to her father. Her father always offered her support even as she moved from a familiar setting in Mombasa, to a new town, Nairobi, in pursuit of education. He would call her every morning to motivate and encourage her. She nostalgically remembers how she would cry in her first year due to the unfamiliar environment. However, she drew strength from her religious background. She says that God really helped her in her studies.
Much as she excelled in her education, Asha went through a breaking point just before her final semester in her fourth year of study. She says that her last undergraduate year was the hardest for her. Her father succumbed to a heart attack. Through her loss, she took her exams and still managed to score good grades. “I had already cultivated a daily reading habit,” she says. “If I had been waiting for exams so as to read, I would not have passed my exams.”
Asha currently works at the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI), where she also did her industrial attachment. She is the personal assistant to the chief executive officer.
The first born, in a family of seven dreams to become a professor at a very early age. She says that she would be proud to get her PhD through her hardwork and she hopes to get a scholarship after completing her masters.
Though a tad reserved, Asha is full of counsel. “If you are disciplined and you know what you want, you can reach where you want to be. You have to know what you want, be disciplined and put God first.“she concludes.
Asha in a biological lab with a senior technologist (Click here to view gallery)