Proud Open University student Kevin Odhiambo Onyango lives in Kenya and is studying for his MSc in Environmental Management – in preparation for setting up his own environmental consultancy firm. He shares how OU study has changed his life so far.
“I am finding my experience of being an international OU student very exciting because I’m interacting with students from other parts of the world through the online tutorials. This has really shaped my thinking and helped me to become a global citizen,” he said.
“Studying internationally makes it possible for me to learn from global academics and worldwide experts and also gives me access to journals and books that would be expensive for me to acquire locally.
“I plan to complete my Master’s degree and then set up an environmental consultancy firm, working for my local and international community.”
“I want to progress in my career”
Kevin already had a BSc in Environmental Science from Maseno University when he enrolled with The Open University but wanted to study further to enable him to progress his career and become an environmental management consultant with his own business. He is currently working for a non-governmental organisation called UHAI Kenya, which supports the human rights of smallholder farmers, fisherfolks and gender minorities.
He said: “I enrolled with the OU because I want to progress in my career and become an expert in my field of study. I want to specialise as an environmental management consultant, so I chose the course to help me do this, because my previous degree was more general.”
Kevin added: “Already, I have been able to perfect my skills in critical thinking and discuss environmental management issues with ease. So far, I have managed to learn and expand my knowledge on how I view environmental management, and this means I am able to analyse issues while drawing on referenced supporting facts and information.”
Kevin was able to get a Commonwealth Scholarship from the British Council to fund his studies, designed to support talented individuals with the potential to make a positive impact globally.
“I wanted to study while working full time”
Thanks to the OU’s flexible, supported distance learning model, Kevin has been able to continue working in Kenya while he studies – which is one of the reasons he chose the OU.
“The flexibility and convenience offered by the OU allows students to study while continuing with their daily activities, like work,” he said. “This is what made me choose The Open University. It is so important, because I didn’t want to leave my job in order to enrol for my studies.
“I am able to study even when I am travelling thanks to the tools provided by OU. The mobile app has been incredibly helpful for me and is very interactive.”
Kevin has also found the OU’s study planner to be a great help when it comes to organising his busy life.
“The best thing about OU study is that it has a very interactive website that offers a study planner,” he said. “This can help students to plan how to study and check on their progress. Using this, I have developed a study plan, which I use to help me fit in all my activities each day. In doing so, I can ensure that I dedicate time to cover each topic in my course.”
He has also found the OU to be understanding when it comes to life’s unexpected problems which get in the way of studying.
He said: “There was a day I was very ill and couldn’t manage to finish my TMA on time and I had to ask for an extension. I explained the situation to my tutor and she granted this with no problems. They know that sometimes life gets in the way.”
“No dream is too big”
Kevin has been impressed with the quality of the OU’s materials and believes there’s no better place he could have chosen to do distance learning internationally.
He said: “All the OU materials are very much up to date with the current academic needs and the tutors are always ready to help and available. They even organise tutorials on other channels like WhatsApp in order to reach students.
“I would definitely do more studies with the OU. I am a very proud international student and am delighted to be associated with a global brand like The Open University. I would love to enrol for an OU PhD in the future and continue with my career development. I’d even love to become a tutor for the OU!”
He says he will use his Master’s degree to inspire those around him to change their lives, like he has.
Kevin added: “As the first-born child in our family, I am a pacesetter. In achieving my Master’s degree, I will be illustrating to my siblings and community around me that no dream is too big, as long as you believe in yourself.
“OU study has changed my life. I will now be able to accomplish my dream of becoming an environmental expert. It is the best place for distance learning if you want to experience quality international education. I’d urge those who haven’t enrolled yet to do so, and to give it their best shot.”