“Finya computer itoe dollar…”


Standing testament to this truth is Caleb Etemesi, a 3rd year Computer Science student, a skilled programmer whose heart resonates with the melody of piano keys, even if his performances are confined to indoor spaces.

Ever since high school, Caleb has always been drawn to the world of programming. Computer classes were his favorite, providing him with a perfect opportunity to hone his skills. During his spare time, he would sneak into the computer lab to refine his craft and at home, you would find him curled up in a corner fixated on his computer coding. Contemplating on his talents, he wondered if I could turn them into profit. However, the challenge lay in finding job opportunities while still an underage. Thus, participating in competitions became his outlet to showcase my abilities and earn money.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and being a form 4 candidate, he took a leap of faith and signed up to participate in the Data Clustering Competition by Telegram. “Were his parents on board with the idea, considering he was in his fourth year? How did he juggle it all?”  Questions filled my mind, as memories of my own time as a form 4 candidate flooded back, recalling how my parents diligently shielded me from distractions during this crucial time. His parents harbored no doubt that he could handle it all, and indeed, he did! And succeeded!

He secured the 4th place in the competition, surpassing countless participants worldwide! It was his debut, making the achievement even more surreal. Not only did it bring him joy, but also his very first earnings—1000 euros! Participating in the competition not only enhanced his skills but also provided an opportunity for him to learn from others in the world of programming, giving him the impetus to hop on the next challenge.

In 2021, he joined Strathmore University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Informatics and Computer Science (BICS). But that wast’t the only milestone — he landed his first job! Balancing university studies and a corporate job? It’s definitely no small feat, but hey, that was not his first rodeo, he faced it head-on, turning challenges into opportunities. Participating in competitions took a backseat that year as he immersed himself in the new exciting chapter of life: adulthood.


Excelling and shocking the world, he did.

2022 came. He set his eyes on the Google Summer of Code, a renowned worldwide programming competition. Participating in this event, he focused on open-source projects, particularly image decoding. His efforts paid off with a prize of 3000 USD and valuable exposure to cutting-edge technology.

In 2023, more exciting opportunities awaited him. Even being in his third year, he aimed to broaden his programming skills and so, he signed up for the Android app development competition. He found it fascinating that what he learned in the competition aligned perfectly with what he was to be taught in the following semester, aiding his understanding of the concepts. Then later in the year, he participated in the Student Category of the Compression Huwaei Content competition where the participants were tasked with the challenge to compress data to its smallest size and then reverse the process. With only two participants, himself and a fellow student from Ukraine, he clinched the second spot. This achievement earned him a prestigious prize of 11,000 euros! 

While still salvoring the sweet glory of the Huwaei competition, him and his classmates were introduced to the Kotlin Multipurpose Competiton by his lecturer Mr. Daniel Machaje during class. Kotlin, a programming language unfamiliar to him, posed a fresh challenge. As his academic workload increased and demands from his job grew, doubts crept in as he faced the daunting task of mastering Kotlin to compete with classmates already well-versed in the language. “If I don’t win,”  he pondered, “I’ll at least get a T-shirt and perhaps gain some valuable experience.” Not to mention that this coincided with his end-of-semester examinations. Despite the impending academic workload, he committed himself to mastering the language and submitted his entry to the competition.


Fast forward to 25th January 2024, the ABSA Hackathon was underway on campus, and of course, he was participating. Although he didn’t win, he received a message on the same day declaring him a Kotlin Multipurpose Contest Winner granting him a fully paid experience to the KotlinConf’24 at Copenhagen in May 2024.

Kizuri cha jitembeza!

“If I don’t show up to work, how will I convince the organization to sponsor my school fees? Or even pay me a salary?
If I don’t show up to school, how will they justify that they actually paid for me to come and learn?
If I don’t show up and participate in these competitions, how will I justify to myself that I am getting better at programming?

Programming holds the key to my future –  it’s the ticket to a job, opportunity far and wide, and financial stability! I prioritize my students, and ensure my assignments are completed on time and to a high standard. Thanks to my understanding employer, I have a flexible schedule that allows me to balance work and study effectively. Whether at school or work, I strive to deliver and excel in everything I do.”


What motivates you?

“The anticipation of the next challenge or competition. The money, too. Hehe… lazima tupate dollar ” 


Article written by: Jemmy M. Kamau

What’s your story? We’d like to hear it. Contact us via communications@strathmore.edu