Monicah Namu, UBC Mastercard Foundation Scholar
“I was very interested in helping my community in terms of food security as my country experienced famine and crisis,” said Namu. “I could see the lack of good agricultural inputs and knowledge of how to process food after production, which included a post-harvest loss of almost 40 per cent. I thought, if I can do something, now is the time.”
Born and raised in Kenya, Monicah Namu explains why she felt compelled to come to UBC for a Master of Food Science degree, a professional program within the Faculty of Land and Food Systems. Without donor support, she could not have made the journey to Canada. Monicah studied biochemistry in her undergraduate degree and was always at the top of her class—she did not have role models or much exposure to the idea of food science as a possible future career pathway. Now as an aluma, and having landed a job in food science prior to graduating, she reflects on her journey getting to LFS and how greatly a Master of Food Science has shaped her as a person and her career.
Inspired to make a difference, Monicah began searching for scholarships before choosing to study at UBC. She was supported by the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, which gives students from Africa financial, social, and academic support to complete their education. After graduating, the scholars then utilize their learning and experiences to contribute to the economic growth and social transformation of their communities in Africa.
“I am so happy they gave me an opportunity to study here and they should continue doing this because there are so many other kids from Africa who have dreams, and because of financial constraints they can’t achieve those dreams, most of them give up along the way. Donor support to help someone achieve a dream goes a long way in changing society; the support doesn’t just benefit me, it benefits my community too.”
To Monicah and her peers in the professional program, UBC is one of the best institutions that has transformed her life, not only in career development, but her as a person. She is confident in her ability to impact her community in her hometown. Her advice to current and prospective students is that “you have opportunity to make an impact in the world. Once you are at UBC take an interest in learning as much as you can, not just course material, learn from your peers, instructors and most importantly from the cultural diversity at UBC. Engage and interact with people different from you to expand your cultural intelligence. Be ready to learn in your classroom and beyond, with the whole community, it makes more sense to learn from a 360-degree perspective and to try new things.”
Monicah now works as a Quality Assurance Technician at Pace Processing, applying all of her new skills and knowledge and is grateful that she can make a difference, “every day food recalls are reported, pathogen and microbial issues are found, and I felt the responsibility as a food scientist to make sure the population is safe. When I am there on the ground, I can do something to ensure the food safety.”