#AlumOfTheWeek – Patrick Tenga Shako, an AIMS Senegal alumnus.

After hearing about the impact story of an alum went viral, he sought to find out what AIMS is all about and gained admission to AIMS Senegal with the recommendation from this alum. After AIMS, he marvels people with his work ethic, and they will not cease to give him multiple roles and promotions. In this edition of the #AlumoftheWeek, Patrick Tenga Shako shares his AIMS and post-AIMS story with us. The AIMS Mathematical Science for Climate Resilience beneficiary is now a Ph.D. student at Alexandria University.

Q: Tell us about your journey before AIMS

Patrick: Before I arrived at AIMS, I had five years of undergraduate and honours at Lubumbashi University (DR Congo), where I graduated in 2015. I studied mathematics and computer sciences, with two theses submitted; one in applied probability and another in actuarial sciences. During my mandatory 1-moth stage after my undergraduate studies, I chose to join the Informatics service of the University and the Finance Department in Metorex, a mining firm. All my life was based at the department as I was 2000 km from my family. In my department, everyone talked about AIMS because of the news of one outstanding student gaining admission with AIMS. After his return to the country, I later got to know this student as Dr. Franck Kalala and was privileged to be taught by him in my 4th year. He, together with my honest advisor, Prof Mabela, recommended I study at AIMS. I applied and was privileged to gain admission to learn at AIMS Senegal. It was my first time traveling abroad, and everything seemed to be new.

Q: How would you describe your time at AIMS?

Patrick: My stay at AIMS Senegal will remain one of the best moments of my life. I was strongly marked by the friendliness that reigned there. The love between Africans, the dedication of the tutors, and the entertainment sessions that happened each Wednesday. The most stressful of all, the problem-solving experience but all came together to build a beautiful experience.

The moments that struck me the most were giving back to the orphanage, classifying books in the Library, and creating the database that took us a whole day. The hottest moments everywhere in Africa were the moments of the meals since there we discussed all the subjects and learned about other cultures. I liked the group that I had nicknamed the Council of Elders; that’s where we learned about history. Also, I remember when we cleaned the beach and attended our tutor’s wedding ceremony, Dr. El Adj Omar, who allowed us to discover the Senegalese culture. The list is not exhaustive.

Q: Tell us about the impact AIMS has had on you

Patrick: AIMS has had three types of impact on me, relationship, science, and behavior. As for the impact at the relational level, I learned to live well in multicultural environments and appreciate and know other cultures and their stories. On the scientific aspect, I learned to become persistent in research. I have strongly developed scientific humility but, of course to like learning new things. Lastly, I learned to esteem others more, appreciate them for their true worth, and gather the courage to share my ideas on the behavioral aspect.

At AIMS, I acquired self-motivation, critical thinking, and technical skills such as statistical analysis using tools like R, python, Google Drive, Trello, Codecademy, and MOOCs. I also learned to lead teams in hackathons, work on projects, and even write academic resumes. All those skills come via roommates, tutors, lecturers, and also colleagues.

Q: What would you describe as your post-AIMS success story?

Patrick: The year I finished AIMS, I returned to my country and was recruited into a private university, one of the most prestigious in the country. I took a test, submitted everything I needed to, and took the interview. The spirit of AIMS made me stand out as one of the most proactive teaching assistants. Everyone was amazed that I always met the deadlines of the school authorities regardless of how short they may be. I was very responsive to emails and pushed others to apply to conferences and scholarships.

I co-organize with one of my former colleagues, the INDABA X DRC, and another international symposium on mining governance. Something which gave the university a good reputation. After a year, I was appointed as the Faculty Academic Secretary to organize meetings, interact with teachers, and manage student issues. In addition to this, I was assigned as the examination coordinator for almost two years. All of this was attributed to my ability to meet deadlines and apply effective time management.

Currently, I am a Ph.D. student at Alexandria University, where most of the impact from AIMS is effectively being put to use.

Q: Which of the SDGs is most important/relevant to you? How do you plan on addressing it in your work?

Patrick: The 3rd goal, good health, and well-being have fascinated me since leaving AIMS. That goal can still experience a leap forward if we apply digital technology. This means using computers, the internet, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, etc. I foresee applying the techniques of machine learning and deep learning in predicting the survival of patients and their recurrence to cancerous diseases such as those of the liver and CRC (the most fatal). The goal is to check the features that must be controlled to have a better prognosis while considering multi-omics data and medical notes. My studies will be based on Africa despite the scarcity of data for most countries that lack electronic registers or databases.

Q: What is your message to current AIMS students and young people across the continent?

Patrick: Just one thing: Discover your vision, be persistent in everything but also be patient. Keep your dream in mind but always be ready for jumping to the next step.