Sacrifice leads to success

A clinical nurse specialist from Kenya graduates with distinction from Bangor University this week.

Bernard Ojiambo Okeah, 32, from Busia, Kenya graduated with an MSc Public Health & Health Promotion degree feeling “genuinely proud of this achievement”.

Bernard grew up in rural Kenya raised by his mother with nine siblings following his father’s untimely demise leaving the family in economic turmoil, lacking the necessities of life.

Bernard recalls: “A meal on the table after several days was a total privilege, we were homeless for almost a decade and lived in a condemned building. Despite the struggles, I was driven by a strong desire and hope that a better future was possible. I knew then that gaining an education would give me a good chance at life.

“Every day, I walked several kilometres barefoot in the scorching sun throughout my primary education. I was at the verge of dropping out of high school because my family could not afford it when help came our way. I was privileged to become a beneficiary of the Oil (Olive) for Education programme in Kenya which supported me throughout my high school and university education.

“I then pursued a BSc Nursing and Public Health at Kenyatta University and graduated with a distinction. I worked in diverse clinical settings as well as in health policy and advocacy, interacting with top level government executives.”     

Following attending a University event in Nairobi in 2016, Bernard developed a keen interest in Bangor, and had to make a difficult decision to leave his wife and children in Kenya to pursue further study.

“I read so much about the University; its world class quality of education, a rich culture, and its strategic location with a conducive learning environment. It was a difficult decision to leave my family behind, but ultimately, the sacrifice will give my family a brighter future.”

To supplement his studies, Bernard worked as a part-time carer in nursing homes around Bangor, Anglesey, Rhyl, and Llandudno, which helped him make lots of friends. He was a member of the University’s Catholic Society which made his stay in Bangor a worthwhile experience, making new friends and visiting iconic places.

During his studies, Bernard participated in the Geneva Challenge 2019. This was a great learning experience to collaborate on a project with a team of talented scholars with the aim of improving community health working within the context of Neglected Tropical Diseases in low-to-middle-income countries.

After graduation, Bernard will stay in Bangor for his PhD and is looking forward to another wonderful experience!


Publication date: 13 December 2019