Varsity Focus



Asya Essajee was elated when she received a call from the University of Nairobi's Academic Division office, informing her that she was the valedictorian class of 2017.

“I knew I had done well in my undergraduate studies but I did not think I would emerge top in my cohort,” she says. At the age of 25, Asya holds two bachelor degrees; one in Architecture and another in Architectural Studies.

“Architecture was a calling for me. Growing up, I followed with keen interest the ongoing construction of my parents' house. I have always admired buildings and awed at the various designs. I enjoyed art and physics in high school. I also fell in love with the art of designing and with that, I knew I wanted to do architecture.”

The valedictorian says that it was by the grace of God, hard work, dedication and a good team of family, friends and lecturers, that she was able to do well in her studies.

“My greatest pillar in my education system is my father,” she reveals. “He is a graduate and a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and fully believes in the high standards of the university and encouraged me to pursue my first degree at UoN. I enjoyed the support, encouragement and a sense of communalism from my classmates, my seniors, lecturers and also support staff.”

Asked about her highlights while studying at UoN, Asya said that she loved the studio culture at the School of Architecture and Built Science, the team work and motivation for each other. However, she did face various challenges.

“We had only one printing office, by the Architectural Students Association, so during class presentations, we had to deal with long queues and this caused a lot of delays in getting the work done. As Muslims, we barely had a secluded place to pray from. We would either pray at the balconies or go to the gardens and look for a private spot. Probably the University can introduce enough prayer spaces for Muslims.”

Having graduated on September 22, 2017, Asya is already pursuing a masters degree in Architecture at UoN. “I am also freelancing on small projects. I am taking up some of the interest that I had kept on hold for a long time like henna body art, cooking, swimming and the likes,” she says.

Advice to students

Asysa cautions students to be in control of their lives: “Live life in moderation by setting your priorities right. Learn how to balance your social life with your education and have good friends with a positive attitude. Your university life is so much more than your course. Do not limit yourself. There is always room to expand your horizons and move in different directions.” VF