Two students from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) have won coveted awards in recognition of their outstanding performance in their respective fields of study.
Boaz Chepsergon Komen, an alumnus of JKUAT is the first ever winner of the prestigious Africa Graduate Gold Medal Award by the Africa Association of Quantity Surveyors (AAQS), while Daniel Waruingi, a third year undergraduate student pursuing Pharmacy, bagged the Student of the Year Award during the Antibiotic Guardian Awards 2020.
Komen emerged winner after topping the nomination process conducted nationally by the Institute of Quantity Surveyors of Kenya (IQSK). He was subsequently recognized for his efforts during the AAQS General Assembly Meeting held in South Africa in October, 2020.
Following an intensive nomination process, Boaz Chepsergon Komen was recognized at the AAQS General Assembly Meeting in October 2020 as the first-ever recipient of this prestigious award. He completed a first class Honours Degree in Quantity Surveying at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in 2019.
Mr Komen has overcome the challenges of being born in humble conditions in Baringo County, and excelled in his early studies, securing admission to the prestigious Alliance High School – he appropriately describes this as a “wonderful opportunity”, using this to gain entry to university in 2016. Throughout his university course, he consistently achieved exceptional results, far in excess of average class marks. However, in addition to academic excellence, nominees for this award are required to demonstrate personal qualities which typically include active involvement in extramural activities, significant contributions to community, a sense of social responsibility, and leadership experience, all of which promise to positively contribute to the quantity surveying profession in their future careers.
The Africa Graduate Gold Medal Award recognizes the efforts of young quantity surveyors in the industry by appreciating their contributions in reshaping the profession. This year was the first time for AAQS to award the graduate category.
The panelists who vetted Komen’s work were impressed by his stellar academic performance and impeccable character going by testimonials supporting his application, notably, his contribution to community service. He has been involved in giving career talks to high school students and participation in tree planting across the country.
“There is need to participate in extra curricula activities, for example, joining professional bodies. I am glad I joined IQSK in my second year of study otherwise, I would not have received this award,” said Komen.
Komen’s leadership record also enhanced his chances of winning, having served as Secretary to the North Rift Evangelistic Team (NORET, JKUAT). He also served as Treasurer to the International Construction Management Students Organization (ICOMSO- JKUAT), a position that enabled him and eight other students from Kenyan universities offering QS to form the Joint Student Council, whose mandate is to create awareness on the professional bodies and bridge the gap between the classroom and the industry.
His employment history also played a role. He is grateful for the fact that he started industrial attachment in first year and after graduating, he was able to secure a job with Efil Enterprises Ltd, Kenya.
Although he graduated with a first-class honors degree in Quantity Survey (QS) from the Department of Construction Management in 2019, this was not the career path he envisioned while a student at Alliance High School. His dream was to become a medical doctor.
Komen won a second award that was presented to him by the IQSK in November 2020. This has enhanced his desire to encourage fellow QS professionals explore new opportunities and collaborate with others to expand transnational relations.
“I would like to join the academia in future and also engage in research so that I can mentor those who wish to pursue this field, he observed”
On the other hand, Waruingi’s win was based on his project titled: Students against Superbugs Africa: empowering students to become lead guardians in the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance.
The healthcare student of the year award was given to two joint winners this year, Daniel Kariuki Waruingi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya and Chioma Achi, University of Cambridge.
Together with three other students undertaking the same course, Waruingi realized the need to educate the masses on how bacteria, which cause diseases, develop resistance to drugs (due to various reasons which can be avoided) yet it is becoming a fast-rising global health challenge.
This knowledge gap was identified during the students’ practical sessions at the medical camps where they interacted with many cases of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), arising from improper use of antibiotic drugs. AMR also exists in animals and the environment and subsequently affects human beings.
The team of four, each with different responsibilities, embarked on a nationwide campaign in January 2020 to empower students taking medical courses (referred to as stewards) in various universities, who would then champion this cause in their respective institutions. Currently, there are 40 trained stewards and this has been extended to other universities in Africa.
The team also started educating those in urban informal settlements such as Mathare and Kiandutu slums, areas whereWaruingi says, the situation is in dire need of advocacy against abuse of antibiotic drugs.
“The poverty levels in these areas prompts unqualified persons to sell drugs in Chemists, thereby giving improper advice on usage. Further, the poor hygiene, aggravated by lack of water and poor waste disposal system also contributes to AMR, says Waruingi.
In order to disseminate their message and achieve their goal, the team was trained by ReAct Africa for six months on various aspects and identified community leaders in these settlements.
“In Kiandutu, Thika, we identified a Sheikh and in Mathare. We worked with a teacher who is respected and well known to the community and this helped our campaign. We look forward to welcoming sponsors on board so that we can reach more people. We have been funding this from our resources, Waruingi noted.
The Antibiotic Guardian campaign aims to increase commitment and raise awareness among the public and healthcare professionals about how we can slow the development of resistant bacteria and cut overuse and unnecessary use of antibiotics. Without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous.
The awards also recognise innovation in the field of antimicrobial stewardship at a junior level with the Das Pillay Antimicrobial Stewardship Memorial Award, won by Bee Yean Ng from Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, an early career pharmacist.
Under the ‘Student Health of the Year’, the Award seeks to recognize students who have led successful initiatives on Antimicrobial Resistance awareness.
According to Waruingi, winning the award will enhance their credibility and expand their social capital.