In this edition of the #AlumoftheWeek, we discuss with a recent graduate from AIMS Rwanda. Japheth Muema Kasomo is an alumnus of the AIMS-ESMT Industry Immersion Program (IIP). He shares his experience at AIMS and how the IIP positively influenced his career. He is currently a Data Processing Intern at Dalberg Research.
Q: Tell us about your journey before AIMS
Japheth: Before joining AIMS, I had done my undergraduate studies in Mathematics (Statistics) and Computer Science at Taita Taveta University, Kenya. Having done well in my undergraduate, the chairman of the Mathematics and Informatics department advised me to apply for the Master’s program at AIMS, which I did.
Q: How would you describe your time at AIMS?
Japheth: AIMS is an institution that offers all the necessary resources, creating an enabling environment for studies, which highly motivated me to apply. My life changed upon joining AIMS since I could define my career and follow my passion. The high-quality tuition provided by lecturers from all over the world improved my programming, presentation, and scientific writing skills, thus shaping my 5-year goal of becoming an experienced data scientist focusing on AI applications to solve complex business problems. I conceived the AIMS-ESMT program as a mixture of academic and practical learning and skill development, which allowed the transition from a scientific environment to an applied industry setting.
Meeting and having close interactions with people across the globe was a remarkable experience at AIMS. It enabled me to make lifetime friendships. My favourite memories from AIMS always came during birthdays. We could all be refreshed by running around pouring water on people celebrating their birthdays, whether they are lecturers or students. The significance of it is the showing of our blessings over the celebrant. The discussions we held with friends were also memorable.
Q: Tell us about the impact AIMS has had on you
Japheth: AIMS gave me a clear definition of how mathematics can solve emerging problems in the business world. Through AIMS, I got the chance to gain employable skills such as adaptability, communication, interpersonal skills, critical thinking, and work ethics. The class presentations and group work improved my presentation skills and confidence while expressing myself to the audience.
Working under pressure, meeting deadlines, accomplishing a lot in a short amount of time, honing my research skills, and assisting me in developing soft skills are some of the critical areas AIMS taught me. AIMS also taught me the importance of collaboration in all aspects of what we do.
Q: What would you describe as your post-AIMS success story?
Japheth: To single out my success story, I managed to publish a paper in a high-level journal immediately after AIMS. I currently serve in a data processing role at Dalberg Research Limited, where I’m mandated to create dashboards and develop a database for data storage purposes.
Through the collaboration of a colleague, we are also focusing on forming a group that will be responsible for educating youths on soft skills in Kenya. I’m focused on changing research insights about bits of knowledge into usable, significant, and valuable African technologies in ways that closely follow African societies, people, groups, and ways of living. Through field research studies and existing literature, I can contribute to findings and design recommendations about technologies that will increase production and solve African problems.
Q: Which of the SDGs is most important/relevant to you? How do you plan on addressing it in your work?
Japheth: My focus goes to SDG 3. SDG 3 talks about good health and well-being. This is highly motivated by my Master’s thesis while at AIMS, which talks about climatic and environmental factors that affect the double burden of malnutrition among women in Kenya.
Health is wealth, and good health brings happiness. Throughout history, improved health has been one of the main benefits of development. This benefit results partly from an increase in income and partly from scientific progress in the fight against disease and disability. Hence, there is a correlation between health and development, although it isn’t tangible. Good health is considered part of a society’s capital stock, as long as the essential differences between this type of capital and physical capital. These differences, in turn, provide an insight into the health services market and, in particular, into the tendency to spend more and more resources on health. I plan to model different algorithms that will improve health systems’ ability to prevent and detect diseases early, especially non-communicable diseases.
You may access my article that talks about how feeding habits may lead to poor health from the link below: https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S2352-8273(21)00214-7
Q: What is your message to current AIMS students and young people across the continent?
Japheth: Dear future generation, you don’t know what the future holds for you unless you encounter many ways of impacting the world. These ways are hidden, and AIMS unveils them for you by equipping young scientists with skills and knowledge to solve Africans’ grand challenges. AIMS might not be easy; it requires one to move from their comfort zone, be flexible, and collaborate with others. AIMS requires one to endure, and the last fruits will be sweet.