The homestretch to my undergraduate was nigh.
On the December 6, my 16 years of education would be crowned by a graduation, the 50th such graduation at the University of Nairobi. Yes, I was enthusiastic but more of relieved that I was going to be among the over 8000 lucky graduands.
You see, some of my classmates-slightly more than 100- will not be graduating. Some had missing marks, some didn’t meet the requirements of the course and some quit campus for one reason and others, sadly, died.
Therefore this day was momentous as I had survived upheavals, strikes and rowdy classmates to sit in the graduation square; gown, hood and cap to boot. I would be conferred with my Bachelor of Arts Degree after four years of lessons, self-discovery, mistakes and most of all holding true to what I loved most: scholarship.
I was more grateful that it was this phase in my life that set the ground for better things, optimism and hope in greater days. True, it paid off. Unlike most of my former classmates, I already have a job.
This is a big deal.
Seven out of ten of my former classmates do not have a job yet and so much is expected of them. They have parents who are glad they finished campus and that they will be independent and soon enough money will start flowing. For six months since we finished our last exam, my pals have sent a thousand applications online, and in person. They have tarmacked for that blue collared job, which seems to be evasive. Their uncertainty is tenfold and their anxiety palpable: the prospect of being jobless after graduating from The University of Nairobi (Best University et al) is depressing.
Therefore, this graduation is a bitter reality.
The ‘power to read’ is a phrase that haunts more after it is spoken. To some this is a green light to set forth and become change makers but to those I spoke to, it means regulating their expectations to avoid disappointments.
Some have realized that the ‘power to read’ does not mean earning just yet, as they do not have the over five years experience needed in the bloated job market. So it is not the power to make ends meet through the expected handsome salaries, but the power to make compromises, learn new skills and become masters of totally different subjects to what they studied in campus.
Flipping through the graduation bulletin in the Bachelor of Arts Listing, the reality hit me again. There were only 24 students with the coveted First class. And over 800 of us with Second class, upper division. Yes, 800. Then almost double that number with lower division and a handful with the Pass.
What this classification meant, it pooled all our different abilities within a range regardless of whether some were stronger than the rest. This then translated into the fact that if there is a job opening, it may be applied to by over 800 people from the University of Nairobi alone let alone from other institutions.
Looking at all the names I was heartbroken that some of my classmates would disappear in the sea of yearly graduates.
I knew then what this ‘power to read’ really meant.
The power to read meant that I had to stop comparing my life with that of my friends. I had a chance to become the best writer, reporter by doing what I loved and not what people thought would be best for my Political Science and Communication majors. I realized that comparison is the death of contentment. That sometimes I am ahead. Sometimes I am at the tail.
The power to read meant my single degree was just staid and mundane if I did not add to it. This I did by gaining experience in communication, writing and media in various internships while in campus. My degree may have me called for an interview but it is the experience that will possibly get me the job. I mean, there are thousands like me every year with the degree.
The power to read means I am to humble myself and take every day as a lesson. Nothing is definite or guaranteed. All I need is preparedness to deal with whatever life throws at me.
I will go the extra mile, repay my Higher Education loan and use what I learned while in campus into practical skills.
I hope using my newly acquired skills,to give back to society. However little.