Terry Muthoni: Networking out of slumberland.

By Allan Wasega, KamiLimu Committee Member

One of the unique attributes that stand out for me regarding KamiLimu mentees is their resilience and desire to enhance their skills despite the obstacles that they may face. For example, last year, we admitted a student — Everlyn Asiko — from Kakamega-based Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST). Everlyn was one of our outstanding mentees in her cohort and was recognized for travelling all the way from Kakamega to Nairobi to attend our sessions. She also inspired today’s interviewee from the same institution, Terry Muthoni, to apply to KamiLimu.

In this interview, Terry, a final year Computer Science student at MMUST, shares her ethos, experiences, and lessons learned as a mentee in the Networking ICT Track under the guidance of Jacqueline Kiplagat, a systems developer at E-Kraal Innovation Hub.

Terry Muthoni, Cohort 5.0 Mentee.

Q: Who is Terry Muthoni?

A: I am a Computer Science student at MMUST, presently in my last semester. Online learning, as we are doing, has got its challenges, but it has at least allowed me to spend more time with my family in Nyeri before my graduation. I also consider myself a truthful person, which is a trait that enables me to agree or disagree with something, depending on the situation.

Interesting. Personally, I find it difficult to say yes or no to requests from some people, especially those with whom I am close. So that is a trait I should definitely cultivate.

A: Please do. Being truthful has enabled me to avoid putting myself or those around me in uncomfortable situations. I am very upfront when dealing with my friends or colleagues, and I am unafraid to say no when I am unable to deliver on something. I also push those around me, to be honest with their feelings, and to commit fully to complete any undertaking that they accept.

Q: What was your motivation to be mentored?

A: At some point at the university, I felt a sense of directionlessness, with too many things happening to me at the same time. Have you ever felt like your cup is running out? That was me. For example, I was an incredibly outstanding public speaker in high school. But somewhere along the line, I lost this spark. I was also experiencing some stagnation. That is, I had learned various concepts in class, but had no extra input to add to this knowledge. Therefore, I needed something to wake me up from my slumber.

Q: So, why KamiLimu?

A: I actually came across KamiLimu in 2017, after I read about Dr.Chao in an edition of True Love magazine. Later, I got inspired to join the program from Everlyn Asiko, who couldn’t stop talking about how KamiLimu was helping her to grow as a person and student. I made my application as soon as KamiLimu sent out requests to do so as it seemed to be an organization that could assist me to get out of my comfort zone and help me stay alert regarding current events in the tech space.

Q: During the ICT Track selection, you settled on Networking. Why did you prefer this option to the others, for example, Data Science or Cybersecurity?

A: During the course of my Computer Science studies, I have realized that I do not enjoy the software development units as much as the hands-on ones, such as Networking. I noticed this difference after my second year when I enrolled in an industrial training module offered by our school. I really loved working on various Packet Tracer exercises that we were assigned to complete. Therefore, the Networking track was the most logical option for me as I could expand my knowledge in the discipline under the guidance of a professional mentor.

Q: I understand your reasons, and the beauty of the technology space is that one can select from among several fields and still be successful at what they do. What was the approach of your professional mentor during the personal projects phase of the ICT Track?

A: Our mentor wanted us to get a real-life feeling regarding how networks are designed and configured. Therefore, our projects entailed solving a network topology challenge using Packet Tracer. This hands-on lab enabled us to cover several concepts at the same time, including the common devices on a network and how to configure them for optimal performance.

Q: That is a very practical way of learning about computer networks. What was your experience during the project?

A: We are only two mentees on the track, so this gives us a lot of time to talk to and interact with our mentor, Jackie. I love working under the guidance of Jackie as she is very committed to her job. She was always ready to help and was very reachable.

Q: Were you pleased with your results?

A: Oh yes! The whole experience reignited my passion for networking. In fact, I am now doing my CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification, and I am enjoying every part of it as I now understand some concepts more clearly.

Q: I am glad the track worked out well for you. What particularly stood out for you during this period?

A: I love how accessible my mentor is, and her approach has given me a different perspective regarding what values a professional mentor should possess. Initially, I interacted with professionals who are too busy to serve another person. At KamiLimu, I am surrounded by specialists who, despite their busy schedules, will always find time to answer my questions. Additionally, I can now configure a network more effectively, which is a significant plus!

Q: Thank you so much for your time, Terry. In closing, what is the way forward for you and your group?

A: Thank you for hosting me too. Our next step is to complete a group project, which we are awaiting guidance on what it will entail from Jackie. Regardless, I am looking forward to it as I am sure that I will learn new concepts.

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KamiLimu

KamiLimu is a free 8-month structured mentorship program that seeks to augment classroom learning for tech-aligned students at Kenyan universities.