Good students graduate with a degree, brilliant students graduate with distinctions, whilst exceptional students top it off with an award to their name. In Strathmore University, no award comes bigger than the Chancellor’s Award. Incepted in 2005, the award recognizes a student of true pedigree, one who is disciplined, brilliant academically, active in either club or sports and a leader.
The award is so prestigious that academic years have gone by without a winner, noticeably in 2009 and 2010. As for 2012, Bilha Mucuha Wangui, a graduand from the pioneer Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management class broke the monotony of previous BBIT winners by bagging the famous award to cap off a memorable four years. She shares her experiences with SUMG member Kenneth Minishi, also a student doing hospitality, in a candid interview on her joy and surprise at being feted with the prestigious award.
Kenneth: In your own words who is Bilha?
Bilha: Bilha is a driven, passionate, enthusiastic person. Somebody full of life, looking for new ideas, making life interesting. She is a hardworking person, driven by several things particularly the desire to succeed through taking risks so as to achieve the goals she has set for herself
Kenneth: What was your first reaction when you realized you were due to win the Chancellor’s Award?
Bilha: I was very surprised and very shocked. Most of the things I did in Strathmore weren’t that high profile but I am grateful because it shows that people were watching even the finer details.
Kenneth: The winner of this award is determined by lecturers, was it even the more satisfying when you stepped up onto the podium amidst a raucous shout of approval from fellow students, not only hospitality and tourism?
Bilha: It was amazing and surprising. I interacted with a lot of people from BBIT and BCOM through my involvement in clubs and through this interaction I got to meet many students.
Kenneth: The CTH group of students has often been misunderstood as only cooks, cleaners. During your time at Strathmore you were at the forefront, representing your class and marketing the course to fellow students, do you think that winning this award will dispel any lingering doubt that the hospitality and tourism students are not just here to make the numbers but excel as well?
Bilha: Definitely, not just myself but my colleagues as well who are already working in various hotels countrywide. I am working in a good hospitality group in Mombasa. Collectively, this should show that CTH students have a lot more to offer.
Kenneth: What were your most memorable moments in Strathmore?
Bilha: The launch of HATSS club and when HATSS began to get more members I was very glad to see it grow. I am still passionate about the club and I am still working with the current club committee.
Joining the university was another because so many people want to join Strathmore and of course receiving the Chancellor’s Award and getting to shake the Pro-Chancellor’s hand!
Kenneth: In the comfort of your home, when you add this award to your growing CV do you feel added pressure coming with the tag of most outstanding student or is it an incentive to make you give that little bit extra and spur you on to much greater things?
Bilha: Not really pressure but a lifelong responsibility of carrying the name of Strathmore outside along with the virtues and values that come with it. I can now apply these virtues and it will help in my career growth as well as teaching others and help others grow.
Kenneth: Young students usually select degree courses because of the lucrative prospect they offer in terms of salary, status but you chose hospitality because it is your passion. What do you aspire to be in this dynamic hospitality industry?
Bilha: You follow your passion, have a dream and work towards it. In primary and secondary school I was never the highest but once I discovered my passion I started to succeed, know your passion and you will succeed, work hard in line with your goals and ambitions and you will succeed.
When I discovered I wanted to be a hotelier, I wanted to work in a 5-star establishment then become a top Food and Beverage Manager. After which I would like to become a General Manager as one day I dream of owning my own restaurant.
Kenneth: The term ‘all-rounder’ is fast becoming a rarity, as most students are only interested in getting good grades, or only playing sports or being totally aloof altogether ultimately graduating as ‘half-baked’. As a parting shot what would you recommend to continuing students so as to enjoy a quality all-round education and mirror the expectations society has for them once they set foot outside campus?
Bilha: Life isn’t all about academics. There is the academics side and the social fun loving side. You must strike a balance between the two. If you were to be a manager and only have a good academic background, you probably wouldn’t attract clients, vice-versa, if you only love fun you won’t manage staff well. You have to have an all-rounded life for success. It boils down to someone doing something today, learning that he has a challenge tomorrow and being ready to expand his horizon so as to counter this challenge.
It’s not about being popular but what you can do as an individual that really counts so do something you are passionate about, have the right attitude and work hard.
There you have it. All this in one word well WORD!