Meng Chemical Engineering
I was born into an Indian family on Kenyan soil. Growing up, I was raised to respect and appreciate both my cultural heritage in India and the forever welcoming land and people of Kenya. I grew up in the fastest growing city in Africa – Nairobi.
From a very young age I have been an over achiever to say the least. My hunger for knowledge and experiences is ever growing. I am a certified photographer, the victrix in sports at primary and high school, a swimming champion, a former head girl, President of various clubs and societies and yet one of the highest scorers during my GCE A' levels and my IGCSE O'levels.
I found a home away from home at Arya Vedic School where I started at the age of 5. Each and every individual there became a part of my extended family, be it teachers, staff members, friends and even peers that I didn’t particularly ‘gel’ with – after all not all five fingers are the same. Yet, Arya Vedic moulded me into the person I am today. I completed 13 years in this school – which means I can walk through the entire campus with a blindfold on and never trip; except on stairs (what can I say my clumsiness gets the better of me). In 2013 I completed my journey here after undertaking O’level examinations in Mathematics, English, Pure Mathematics, Geography, Economics, ICT, Business Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Accounting and Human Biology. 12 subjects, I must say, was no easy task but hard work paid me well and I graduated high school with 8A*’s, 3A’s, an unfortunate B and a special ‘High Achievers’ award from Edexcel.
I then moved onto a rather challenging new chapter popularly known as ‘A-levels’. I joined Oshwal Academy Nairobi Senior High in September of 2013 to sprint the last few miles towards University. In the rather quick 2 years, I managed to reach bigger and better goals. At AS level I scored 300/300 in Physics – one of my toughest subjects. Then, at A-level I, being the worshipper of challenges, took up Further Pure Mathematics and boy! did I have to work day and night to maintain my high calibre. Once again, my determination and efforts were met with rewards and not only did I attain 3A’s but also an A* in Further Pure Mathematics. As a cherry on the cake, I managed to bag the highest score in Africa in Pure Mathematics - an award I will forever learn never to stop working hard from.
I am a perfectionist, I need my room in order, my grades perfect, my commitments met and just like that I needed a University that was perfect for the career I wanted to have. With amazing lectures, a great syllabus, diverse students and a beautiful location, Sheffield had to be my choice! There were no second thoughts about it!
TUOS is a hub for quality education - what more could I ask for when my degree would be IChemi certified and world reckoned for being top notch. To add to that, Sheffield proudly boasts to be the host to students from all over the world. Each day I get the chance to interact with a person from a different part of the world and each time I learn something new about cultures, cities and beliefs across the globe. This has proven to be one of the best features of my university life as it is building me into both a better intellectual and global citizen. Lastly, there is no way one can miss out on all the adventure that TUOS has to offer. There is something for everyone; from nature trails and hiking in the peak district to parties and endless activities in and around the university - Sheffield has it all.
I feel a lot of emotions regarding being a University of Sheffield Scholarship winner, ranging from the proud feeling of achievement to the humble feeling of gratitude. For all I know the University of Sheffield has helped fulfil my dream of becoming a Chemical Engineer. I am no descendent of a king. Over the years, I have seen my mother work twice as hard as I have to ensure that not only my needs but also my wants are met. When I joined TUOS, the Kenya Undergraduate Merit Scholarship was only awarded to only one student from the entire nation. When I was awarded this scholarship, more than anything, I was grateful that my mother’s efforts had finally yielded our family plenty. To me the TUOS has not only recognised mine but also her hard work and this is a token of achievement presented to her rather than to myself.
As a chemical engineering student, I find myself constantly surrounded with people that question the world at large. My peers always offer questions and theories that revolutionise the way I think. Not only are my lecturers some of the finest people in their field at a global scale, but also they go out of their way to always be there to support their students. Yet, what I enjoy the most, is that I am not meant to cram an entire textbook and then just spit out the words on a sheet of exam paper. I love that we are assessed to apply our knowledge rather than tested on how much of the knowledge we have memorised. I enjoy that part of my studies involves working on projects and learning from the mistakes we make as we work on them. I enjoy that I get to interact and learn new things from my peers while we are faced with challenges. Personally, I believe this is the best way to study because what a lecturer can’t teach you things outside your course but a peer will always manage to increase your knowledge from information they acquired from totally random sources.
At TUOS there is a high emphasis on practical approaches to theoretical knowledge. We don’t just sit in a lecture room and take notes while an individual stands in front of a board talking for endless hours. We act on the knowledge we acquire. Firstly, we have a lot of laboratory sessions that place weight on the lectures. We have a varied range of labs from Microbiology to Chemical reactions and Physical properties. As a matter of fact, my course is one of those amazing ones where you get a taste of multiple disciplines. In addition, each lab session is conducted in small groups so that we all can learn. Further, each group is facilitated by an experienced PhD student that give us tips and more knowledge based on their personal experiences and research in the field.
Engineering students, especially, are taught soft skills of project management, team working, design and solving real life problems. In the first year itself, we participate in a faculty wide Global Engineering Challenge (GEC) wherein we work in diverse teams with students from various departments and backgrounds and solve all kinds of issues from pollution and water contamination to infrastructure advancement in less developed countries. Soon, I am also going to be working on a design project, with yet another team of students on my course, which involves material selection as a core evaluation technique. This emphasis continues to be placed in all years (with Engineering You’re Hired in the second year and so on) and this makes the teaching methods stand out and shine in the world market.
The student support office in my department is always there to give me quality information about my course and they provide excellent advice and guidance. On my course, we also have personal tutors that work with smaller groups of individuals. They work with us to give us career advice, course guidance, to take our feedback on any and all matters and they facilitate communication between us and the department.
Foremost, one of the benefits of an education at TUOS is that I see myself at the forefront in my field. My course is accredited by IChemi – a world renowned organisation that sets the bar in the field of Chemical Engineering. This accreditation is primarily difficult to obtain; in fact not all universities that offer this course are accredited by this body. For me this means my education will be one of the finest in this world and that will already set me apart from many in this field. Again, the emphasis on practical education is instilling in me the ability to take on the industry before a lot of my peers. The facilities and technologies that the University has to support my education is modern and advanced. As a result, it is making me more efficient and preparing me for the future of the industry well in advance.
One of the best things about student life at Sheffield firstly fosters independence. Further the diverse nature of the students allows learning outside the classroom and makes learning within the classroom a much broader experience. TUOS is a hub for endless opportunities. Literally, they are all lying at your feet waiting to be picked up. Be it wanting to work on a business project on the side while studying science or leading a cultural society that you don’t belong to but are interested and appreciative for. In my first year already, I have managed to do a million things that I enjoy apart from academics.
I am an International Engineering Ambassador and a Science and Engineering Champion. I am also a member of various cultural societies like the Korean, Indian and East African. Further, I managed to win the election to be an SU councillor for my department and also work as a Senate for learning and teaching in my faculty. In addition, I participated in the IBM Universities Business Challenge – a nationwide competition - and managed to go compete up till the semi-finals. I am also a blogger for the International Office and a member of the Women in Engineering Society. Yet, alongside all of this, I have a part time job within the campus and still have time to relax and unwind. Clearly, as a student I have all under one roof.
I grew up in a country home to a Nobel Prize winner in the field of environment. I grew up in a ‘City in gardens’ as the world commonly says; and as a result, I grew up to be passionate about nature, wildlife and the environment. We all know that at present, the world is facing energy and environmental crisis. The damage is life threatening – and not just human lives but lives of all species are at danger - in some parts of the world. As a race we have collective responsibility to protect what is our only home in this universe and as a global citizen, I want to play my role in fulfilling this responsibility.
As a Chemical Engineer, I want to specialise in energy and environment. I want to work towards producing greener technologies. I want to work with companies that are serving the correct balance between the economy and the environment. Yet, I sometimes picture myself working in the field of research instead of the industry directly but with the same motif. If I take to research, I want to dedicate my efforts towards discovering a revolution in the field of energy and environment. I hope that one day I can come up with a solution that will change the way in which we exploit resources and the environment so that our environmental footprints are lower than they have ever been. Also, dramatic and unachievable it may sound, I often find myself hoping that someday my determination will pave way for discoveries for which I will bag a Noble Prize too.
What advice would I give for prospective students coming to Sheffield?
"Pack your bags and come aboard, this is not just a learning institution it's an experience!”
And while you’re at it pack an umbrella too because the rain never seems to stop.
Jokes aside, The University of Sheffield has the best of not just both but all worlds to offer to you. However, as young adults it sometimes may become daunting to experience so much all by yourself. My advice would be embrace it - don’t resist it; yet don’t lose yourself while developing into a better individual. Sheffield is a city with some of the kindest people in this world. As a matter of fact, sometimes when I talk to family and friends back home and they don’t say the word ‘love’ at least 3 times in a sentence I bagger them about being rude.
Another thing that I would love to tell you is that when you move to university you will have endless opportunities. Not all of us are the same and many may feel overwhelmed. Yet, I would insist that you believe in yourself. You may not be incredibly fluent at English or a pro at sports. You may not be the most intelligent in your class or the most famous amongst your peers. However, I encourage that you sign up to various activities- society socials, sports teams, music groups and virtually anything that you think interests you. Sign up and show up! Eventually, you may not like it but that only means you will be able to identify where you fully belong and that is the first step into adjusting into uni life. When you move to university try to take a leap of faith… and if that sounds too much start by taking baby steps – or as we call it participate in the ‘Give It A Go’ program.
All in all, I would like to say that I am still somewhere in the middle of ‘the journey called life’ and the University of Sheffield is proving to be the most enthralling chapter so far.