“The SI scholarship opportunity is one that never stops giving.”

Judith Achieng’ Oginga is our alumna from Kenya. She studied a master’s programme in sustainable urban planning at Blekinge Institute of Technology during 2017 – 2018. This is her story.
SI scholarship holder, Judith Achieng’ Oginga, is talking in front of some persons.

I currently work at the United Nations Headquarter in Nairobi as an urban planner focusing on sustainable mobility, air quality, gender and youth. I am also a recipient of an industrial PhD offer from Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH) set to commence in 2019/2020 and I will be working on real-life projects in Africa.

When I applied for the SI scholarship in 2017, I was working at an architectural firm as an associate urban planner with a bachelor’s degree in the same field. At that time, as a young professional with some years of work experience, I felt that it was time to progress within my career. Naturally, this led me to seek out more challenging roles both within the company I worked for as well as in other larger organisations. I soon realised that most of the roles I was interested in required more than just a bachelor’s degree. It is at this point that I made the decision to deepen my knowledge by pursuing a master’s degree to improve myself and my career prospects. I was browsing the internet for scholarship opportunities. My search was geared towards other countries in the beginning, but when I came across the details of the SI scholarship and considered from both a financial and social angle, I knew it was the perfect fit and had to try.

When I reflect to the time before the SI scholarship and compare it to my present life, I am both awed and humbled to realise how much this experience with the scholarship has enriched me. It helped me level up as a global leader thanks to the SI Network for Future Global Leaders (NFGL) which every scholarship holder has the privilege of being a part of. One of the most impactful moments for an SI scholar is the Kick-off event which is held right at the beginning of the academic year. In this event, the message to strive towards becoming a leader and change maker is set with inspiring speeches from both the SI as well as alumni who come from diverse nationalities and backgrounds. The important role of each scholar as part of NFGL is highly emphasised and nurtured through participation in various workshops geared towards global sustainable development. This exposure went a long way in improving my leadership skills along with others who were also playing their own part in making a difference in the world, however big or small. The NFGL also brought me several amazing conferences and mentorship opportunities which helped me grow positively in my world perspective. It enabled me to acquire the right set of skills that I believe recruiters from renowned organisations find desirable.

The primary reason why one should apply for the SI scholarship is to advance their academic level through higher learning in Sweden. This scholarship covers both the tuition fees and living expenses, enables hundreds of people to access higher education which would have otherwise been difficult to achieve. Secondly, scholars can improve themselves and network with other like-minded people through the NFGL activities. Last but not least, at the end of one’s studies, the relationship that has been built with other scholars and Sweden is maintained through the Swedish Institute Alumni Network. In a nutshell, the SI scholarship opportunity is one that never stops giving. In addition, the application process is also straightforward and comprehensive.

During my time in Sweden, I also enjoyed the Swedish culture. Swedes are a humble bunch with no strong regard for lofty titles. They are also very keen with time, highly trustworthy and polite. I found a lot of aspects of the Swedish culture attractive and believe we can learn a lot from them.

Currently, my daily work contributes to sustainable development. As an urban planner at the United Nations (UN), I contribute daily to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we work to build sustainable cities and communities. In addition, having learned the impact of individual lifestyles on carbon footprint, I also try to practice personal sustainable consumption behaviours.

Besides my work at the UN, I am also very active in the SI Alumni Network. As an official in the board of our current alumni network in Kenya I continue to hone my skills as a leader, organiser and networker. I realise this also has a positive impact on my work as I am able to foster symbiotic partnerships between my organisation and the alumni network in matters of sustainable development. SI continues to provide funding to its alumni networks, which enables us to confidently approach potential partners. There is a lot of untapped potential in the network as an alumni member.

My short-term goal is to complete my PhD in Sweden and carry out relevant research on African development issues. My medium-term goal is to become an expert and leader in my field working on projects that have tangible impact on the communities which I will be serving especially in the African continent. My long-term goal is to head one of the large organisations in the world that has both vast resources and man power to reach millions of people across the developing world who need them the most.

Find out more about the SI scholarships.