By Brian Murithi
I had for a long time envisioned myself being in a university but didn’t know which university I wanted to go to reason being there was only one university that is known to cater for VIP’s like myself. Don’t get me wrong. Am not a political personality nor an entertainment celebrity neither a corporate honcho. By VIP I mean Very Improved Person. Am improved from the fact that I do normal things in another way and not the normal way like most of us do. For instance, to get around I use a four wheel engineless vehicle which is manually propelled by hand from the wheels or from the back. It’s a one passenger vehicle so am sorry you cannot hitch a ride. Hope you now get the point. In case you did not, all am trying to say is that am a special needs student.
My high school teachers encouraged me to go to Kenyatta University but I was not for that idea. I wanted to go to a new place where not very many people had gone. Having been turned down by three institutions of higher learning, I had little hope of coming to university when I decided to take a chance on JKUAT and try my luck. Some of the reasons for being turned down came as a result of my condition, something I dreaded since it was a problem that took a while to solve like building of ramps for easy movement around buildings with stairs.
And so on 2nd September 2015 I reported to the University I had little hope of joining. In my hometown, JKUAT is a big name best known for churning out graduates of technology related courses like Information Technology (IT) and Engineering. I had little hope of joining JKUAT partly because of the course I was interested in, Public Relations. I must admit I was very happy when I came to the University. The idea that I could have my phone while at school was a big thing for a very obvious reason. The idea that I would have a laptop to do assignments really fascinated me from the fact that I now could download movies and play games when am done. All work with no play makes Brian a very bored man.
The next day I stayed indoors in my room not knowing what to do next. I only came out during lunch and supper time at least to keep my intestines engaged. It was there that I encountered my first challenge in the University. I didn’t know anybody by name who I could call to place my order. I had to wait and look out for a few concerned people who I would then send with my order. That’s the thing I love about being physically handicapped. You cannot go anywhere and people fail to notice you unless they are blind, asleep or have chewed blackout. I use this unwanted attention to my advantage to get things done without having issue commands like an army general.
I had my first lecture on a Tuesday afternoon at CLB. My inability to climb up the stairs introduced me to my classmates and friends who helped me get to class. The lecturer was lively I did not even notice the lesson was for three hours. From then on life became fast paced again juggling from class, assignments and group work. Am happy my classmates accepted me as I am and this made me feel appreciated. Whenever I encountered challenges they were ready to help without hesitation. Since I could not keep up with the speed of some lecturers, they gave me their notes to copy from. I owe much of my academic success to them.
The subordinate staff in JKUAT has really made my University experience an enjoyable one. Nowadays I don’t wait for long before a cook shows up to me to take my order. At times I have been put to task to explain my whereabouts at lunch hour since I didn’t make an appearance at the mess. In the halls of residence the staff help me to clean my room at no cost as well as taking our clothes for washing.
Then there is the JKUAT CATCOM and the JKUAT CU. Aside from growing spiritually I have grown socially by associating with friends from both side especially JKUAT CATCOM. I feel guilty whenever I miss the Mass from Fr. Lawrence Njoroge the CATCOM Chaplain. This is in addition to the hike and charity work carried out every semester in different parts of Kenya.
All in all the experience has been far from what I expected. I have had so much fun here in JKUAT despite the challenges faced such as strikes at night, going long distances in search of ‘strong Wi-Fi’ and having to put up with noise at night whenever there is a big football match.