Graduate Spotlight: Shekinah Githinji – My four years finally paid off
“You require sautéed vegetables, meat, white sauce, red sauce, cheese (sliced mozzarella, grated parmesan)… wait did I lose you anywhere in the ingredients for making Lasagna? Have you ever tried it?” Over the years, I have perfected my art in making Lasagna. I love to cook. (And to eat, of course!) Transitioning to university to pursue a course in the Hotel and Tourism Industry was a dream come true.
Growing up, I always had a passion for culinary arts. Chef Gusteau in the famous movie Ratatouille says that good food is like music that one can taste, color you can smell. One needs only to be aware to stop and savor it. Food and cooking is an art and the art requires courage above all else. A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe. It is a worthwhile experience preparing, cooking salivating meals, delivering them to guests, and seeing that joy from enjoying the meal, an exhilarating moment! It is that passion served as fuel to select Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Hotel Management in the School of Tourism and Hospitality in Strathmore University. I can attest that, indeed, student life on campus was a wonderful journey. A blended learning approach in both practical and theoretical classes really made the class sessions stimulating.
Opportunities such as being a module leader in almost every semester not only shaped my growth and development, and leadership skills not to mention my public speaking skills. Clubs such as the Community Outreach Programme and the Hospitality and Tourism Students of Strathmore (HATSS) built my confidence in cooking and management. Through the HATSS club, I got the opportunity to be a vender for snacks and pastries at the frequent flea markets on campus. The Annual Food Euphoria events culminated my four years, a platform where I demonstrated the skills I had learnt. Participating in the EUROCHRIE, an international virtual cooking competition was a learning moment where I had to put to practice and display my prowess.
“Experience is the best teacher”. The internship opportunities have been the best teacher and have contributed to my work experience in the Hotel industry. Despite the harsh impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry, I was lucky enough to not necessarily endure the hardships; I managed to do and complete my internships at the Tribe and Trademark Hotel and the Crowne Plaza Nairobi Airport. Thanks to those companies, the lessons learnt are deeply engraved.
Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
Almost all students are familiar with procrastination. ‘I will do it tomorrow. I cannot do it right now’. An enemy that I have constantly battled with and which many of us have fallen victim to countless times. We often replace important but unpleasant and stressful tasks with less important, less stressful tasks, or more satisfying activities. For instance, catching up on the latest series instead of completing an assignment. The adrenaline rush of completing assignments or work less than 24 hours to the deadline is inexplicable, but we still manage to submit them on time, right? That begs the questions whether adrenaline should power me to work, or I should do and complete the assignment or work in good time.
What kept me going?
A first class honours degree was a goal that I intended to achieve by the end of my four years’ journey at Strathmore University. Come rain, come sunshine, the destination never changed. True to that fact, it has come to fulfilment and I am so honoured to be graduating with an Honors. I will not lie to you and say that it was a bed of roses. It was not a smooth sailing at all.
My goals, my future plans. That is what that kept me going. ‘Education is not a method of preparation for life; it is indeed life itself and without it, nothing can be changed in this world.’ Learning was not an easy process but through perseverance and having that burning desire to always be successful, I had no other business but to excel. The future was in my hands. The choices I made defined me. No pressure. No struggle. No diamond.
The role of a mentor is important. John C. Maxwell once said that one of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination. Dr. Lucy Gikonyo, my mentor, I am lost for words; I cannot describe how grateful I am to have such a wonderful support system pushing me to greater heights. You kept me on track. From the constant words of advice, to the words of encouragement and motivations, to the listening ear, indeed through that it pushed me to strive for excellence. Ultimately, I have gained confidence in who I am and that has greatly shaped me. I love the woman I am becoming.
To my peers…
Yes, you can do it. If I made it, you can make it.
This article was written by Jemmy Kamau.
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