A Lass I Once Admired
A True Story
on Jul 2, 2020
For some students, universities are places of expanding their intellectual bandwidth and trying out new ideas. For others, universities are places of finding a soulmate and falling in love. As for me, when I matriculated at the university in JKUAT in May 2007 to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering, all I desired was to excel academically in my first year and then transfer to MIT, Stanford or Harvard where I would finish off my university education.
I however have to confess that when I began attending classes at JKUAT back in May 2007, I got attracted to a lass in our class named Lorna Ogolla. What attracted me to Lorna was not only her beauty but also her drive and ambition which made her the class representative of our engineering class. She represented us with zeal.
It seemed Lorna admired me too because she commented at one time that she loved people like me who read a lot after she spotted me carrying a book about the world's greatest scientists. At another time, she cajoled me to sit next to her during a class we were having in a laboratory at the university.
But Lorna could be tough too. I once borrowed from her some notes, and when I asked her to come for them in my room, she refused. She kept phoning me to take the notes to her at the university library. And when I yielded to her demands and took the notes to her, I found her in a nasty mood outside the library. Furious with me for inconveniencing her, she angrily rebuked me as some passers-by looked on.
Despite her toughness, I still admired Lorna and longed for her friendship. I wanted to share with her my dreams of finishing off my university education in such elite colleges in America as MIT. And I had purposed to coax her to also apply to the elite colleges.
But then came one Monday in early July 2007 when I noted with a lot of concern that Lorna was missing in class. She was also absent the following day. And on Wednesday too. That got me worried. What had happened to Lorna? I wondered.
A few days later, I learnt from my classmates that Lorna had dropped out of JKUAT. That news made me so heartsick that I made the following incoherent entry in my diary on 10th July, 2007:
Sometimes I wish I were staying alone in this world. For my love for other people always results in strong emotions that sometimes make me weak. I didn't know human emotions could run me so down till Lorna left us. So I will appreciate the existence of everybody, especially my parents.I really was heartsick to learn that Lorna was gone from JKUAT. And I contemplated giving her a small booklet on communication as a token of our friendship. Had we met, I would probably have given her the booklet.
As weeks rolled by, I got over my heartsickness and forgot all about Lorna. I focussed my energy on keeping up with classwork at JKUAT and on applying to MIT and three other colleges in America.
Guess what! A year later around August 2008, I heard that Lorna was in MIT - the same college I had wanted to tell her about and which had rejected me. Truly, life is like that: incomprehensible and full of surprises.
To be honest, I was jealous of Lorna to hear that she was in MIT, the world's premier institute in science, technology, engineering and math. But I got over that too and moved on with life.
Then one evening in 2011 when I was pursuing a degree in Political Science at the University of Nairobi, I struck a conversation with a man who was my classmate at the university. When I told him that I had dropped out of an engineering degree at JKUAT a few years before, he informed me that his daughter had also dropped out of JKUAT and gone to MIT.
"Is that Lorna Ogolla?" I inquired from the man in a state of excitement. He said 'yes'. What a small world we live in!
I tried reconnecting with Lorna in the years 2011 and 2012 but she never replied to the emails I sent to an address of hers that I had found via Google search. And a year or two ago when I googled her name again, I gathered that after she graduated from MIT, she won a scholarship to pursue a master's degree in Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University. She seems to have been one lucky person - that beautiful and ambitious lass I once admired.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on a lass I once admired, you might also enjoy another one I wrote two years ago on "Some Bad Days I Once Had". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.
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Another Opportunity I Wasted
A True Story
on Jun 27, 2020
When I was in my final year in high school at Starehe Boys' Centre back in 2005, I developed a burning desire to learn computer-programming. I remember telling my siblings on one night that year of how I would immerse myself into the world of computer-programming once I was done with my high school career. And that's exactly what I did.
Even before reporting to Starehe Institute in January 2006 to pursue a diploma in Information Technology, I had already begun reading books on how to program computers. At first, I found it difficult to comprehend the logic behind computer-programming. But through persistence and determination, I eventually rose to the occasion and began to enjoy designing and coding computer programs which I would show off to my fellow schoolmates in Starehe Institute.
Among the computer programs I coded when I was in Starehe Institute was one for cracking passwords. Although I didn't get to crack the administrator password using the computer program, I succeeded in unravelling the passwords of two of my classmates. It was such an exhilarating experience just to create the program and see it work.
Then as I progressed with learning computer-programming in 2006, I developed another desire to understand how a computer works; the hardware part of it, that is. I wanted to know in depth how electric current is made to pass through circuits so as to perform the magic we see in computers.
A Starehe computer lab technician took an initiative one day in 2006 to explain to us - institute students - how the hardware of a computer works. I attended his lecture, eager to gain insight from him. Unfortunately, I didn't understand a thing he said. And when he opened a system unit of a desktop computer while lecturing to us how it operates, all I saw was a ganglion of wires that made little sense to me.
Still determined to understand how a computer works, I later on that year tried to assemble a desktop computer from disused components that were in one of the institute computer labs. My efforts were unsuccessful due to my limited knowledge.
A wonderful opportunity for learning how a computer works opened up for me in 2007 when I was accepted at JKUAT to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering. What even made the opportunity more wonderful were the facts that I was young and in robust health, my parents were both well and working, and the engineering course was affordable for my family because it was government subsidized. All that was required of me was to concentrate on my studies at JKUAT.
And JKUAT was a great university, at least during my time there. Its students were brilliant, its environment was serene, its food was palatable and its learning resources were fairly good.
But guess what! Instead of taking advantage of the wonderful opportunity by focussing on my engineering course at JKUAT, I became consumed with a craving to earn more money and study in America. That craving made me spend my weekends teaching piano in Nairobi and much of my free time in applying to elite colleges in the United States. And when my efforts to achieve those cravings backfired, I lost interest in my studies at JKUAT. That made me repeat my second year at the university. Eventually, I dropped out of JKUAT in 2009.
Looking back, I am thinking it was foolish of me to try to accomplish several big goals instead of concentrating on my studies at JKUAT. Had I focussed on my engineering course like a laser beam cutting through metal, I would by now have not only comprehended how a computer works but also probably invented, discovered, explored or expressed in depth something in the field of electronics engineering.
I really wasted a wonderful opportunity by not focussing on my engineering course at JKUAT. To this day, I am yet to understand how electrons are manipulated in order to perform the tasks we see computers do. How, for instance, an icon is clicked on a computer screen to open a folder remains magic to me.
Over the past one decade, we have had here at home several electronic gadgets malfunction. Gadgets such as TV, radio, wrist watches, mobile phones and computer components. But you know what? I have had no clue what their faults could have been, let alone sit down to repair them. All because of my lack of understanding.
So from my experiences, I advise all youngsters at the university to stay in school and apply their time in growing their minds with knowledge, wisdom, insight and understanding. Otherwise they might end up realizing too late what a great opportunity they squandered by misusing time meant for studying. That's all I am saying.
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story on an opportunity I wasted, you might also enjoy another one I wrote some time back on "A Great Opportunity I Once Lost". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.