This is the Yorkshire and Humber regional winner by Valentine Resiato Nkoyo, who comes from Kenya and studies at York St. John University.
Valentine Resiato Nkoyo Dear Mrs. Munke,
Greetings from beautiful snowy York.
I just got the results for my second year and I wanted to tell you right away. I still vividly remember that day in 2002. You called me in on a Sunday morning and I feared there were more problems with my school fees. It was the opposite. You had found a way to solve my funding difficulties and showed me how to apply for an NCCK scholarship that ensured I finish secondary school. It turned out to be the beginning of a fantastic journey that has brought me here to York St John University where I have just learned I am maintaining a first class honours grade in my Business Studies degree.
It hasn’t always been smooth, but the setbacks only made me stronger and more determined to get a degree. Even more, they helped me decide that I want to do for many what you did for me, to get the most out of education opportunities. It is here in the UK that I discovered just how I might pursue this career aim.
I lost another two years after secondary school because of funding, but thanks to NCCK and other generous sponsors, I finally joined Kabarak University. It was there that I met York St John staff during an education conference and through them I was awarded a scholarship to study Creative Writing and Documentary Film Making from January-May 2009. It was a revelation to discover a new culture and to see how differently things could be. The most impressive thing was how supportive the teaching staff was. I got involved in many activities like presenting at conferences at YSJ and other universities and visiting local schools. I was also so proud to be invited to make a presentation about the Maasai culture in YSJ.
YSJ offered me a scholarship to finish my business degree there. My family and sponsors all agreed that I should grab this opportunity with both hands. You know how important it is to get the approval of the family elders in Maasailand, especially if you are a girl. It’s not like that in Britain. Young people have more freedom of choice. It was YSJ Vice Chancellor on a visit to Kenya who told me that I had won the Inaugural Inspire SPARK Scholarship!
Back in York, I participated in fundraising for other students as a way to give back to the University. I took part in a telephone campaign, welcomed VIP’s to fundraising events, networked with York businessmen and potential donors encouraging them to give generously to the university. Over time, I became a role model for other students, encouraging them to volunteer with the Development Office. There is now a group of 15 outstanding volunteers for the office. I got a certificate from the Vice Chancellor in recognition for this work.
I also did PR work for the university including two live interviews with BBC Radio York, featured in two articles in the York Press, selected as part of a small group of international students by the British Council to take part in a campaign to market the UK as an education destination, interviewed and filmed in London to promote the Government Matched Funding Scheme to encourage philanthropic giving to UK universities.
I am working as a university Student Ambassador and Warden, roles that involve representing the university during internal and external events, being in charge of a Student Accommodation and offering support for fellow students.
Because of my broad collaboration with the university, I have been invited to different events, VIP receptions, the university conferment dinner, the Inauguration of the new VC in the magnificent York Minster building among others. Through YSJ, I have met the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, the Mayor of York, university governors, alumni, and partner university representatives.
In May, I was awarded the Adults Learners’ Award of the Year for Yorkshire and the Humber Region in a colourful event at the Leeds United Club Banqueting Suite. This award has further raised my ambitions to give back something to my village Eor-Enkitok in Maasailand through the Moi Primary Project (MPP) that my Irish mentor and I started last September. MPP seeks to develop English language learning at my former primary school where my education began. We are looking for UK TEFL volunteers to come to Kenya to create more educational and career opportunities for the village children.
This is the first example of how I want to use the new skills and contacts I have made here to give new possibilities back home as I continue my own academic and professional journey in the field of Social Entrepreneurship: helping people improve their lives. My business studies in the UK are teaching me how to create social profit through education.
The starting point is home where I will never forget and always return, bringing ideas and projects for Kenya to embrace the future with confidence and strength.
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