MY JOURNEY TO THE UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW, OSCAR OKWERO
I was always intrigued by computers and Its ability to make very complicated tasks seem easy through software programs from trivial acts like changing word formats to controlling microprocessors I have never stopped the fascination with anything computing. My first program was a simple record management system to manage the former employee records of Kenya Railways as part of a team project on attachment to a location-based service as my final year project which I later turned into a business in collaboration with IBM research.
Professionally, I was first employed as a management trainee at a local major IT Systems integrator then later as a network security engineer after which I decided to try my hand in business where I interacted with both corporate and government officials in the technology field and especially in the entrepreneurship realm because of my interest in emerging technologies and the new business models that would emerge from them. Through Sine Solutions Ltd, we did location-based advertising in mass transit vehicles in collaboration with IBM research and had several government agencies as well as private enterprises as partners.
It’s during this experience that I realized that I needed something more through training and experience and hence applied for the Prestigious Chevening scholarship by The British Commonwealth and Foreign Office (FCO) to study at the beautiful University of Glasgow, twin City to Jerusalem and a marvel of Art and ancient history. With the emerging threat of Cyberattacks due to the increasing digitization of services, I decided on IT Cybersecurity which encompasses research on diverse areas that include cryptography, forensics and secure applications development as well as emerging technologies such as Cryptocurrencies, Big data, Artificial intelligence as well as Information security governance. The classes are very engaging and demanding with a mixture of personal research, workgroup work and taught lectures which are taken by very senior industry leaders. I interact with some of the best minds from across the world both as classmates and faculty with a focus on the Cybersecurity of National Critical Infrastructure(CNI) that includes Government, commercial and private applications.
Out of class I have had the chance to make many friends from across the world from Syria, Germany, Colombia, Russia, Indonesia and the rest of the world with whom I experience the British culture and way of life; The local Scottish food, the Ceilidh dance, the Scottish sports culture pitting Glasgow Rangers Vs Celtic FC. I have also had time to volunteer as a mentor at a local primary school as well as work with a local prison outreach that helps in integrating ex-prisoners to normal communal life in Glasgow similar to what I did as part of the Strathmore University Community outreach program (COP). I have also had the chance to interact with varied Industry leaders in Europe including NATO, NASA, NCHQ, Deloitte, US Air force
On return at the end of my scholarship I intend to put into use my newly acquired skill set to help the local Cybersecurity industry develop and implement technical and governance standards to secure the information infrastructure for government,commercial and the general citizens as well as extend a digital literacy program that we started at the Mama Ngina Children’s home to the rest of the Country and pursue a PhD in Cybersecurity Governance.
Am glad that through the experiences and skills developed while at the Strathmore University and especially leading the Strathmore University IT club (SUITSA) and the Community outreach program, I have been able to travel a very memorable journey and am very grateful to the CFO for a chance to be among the few Chevening scholars among the Millions of deserving young people worldwide.
Oscar Okwero is a BBIT Alumnus, class of 2013 and A Chevening scholar at the University of Glasgow, Uk.