By Edwin Muema, a KamiLimu 5.0 mentee and SOC Analyst and Junior Penetration Tester at Visibility Technology Services.
Last year, I won the University Mega Cyber Challenge sponsored by the EC Council University (ECCU). ECCU is a part of the EC Council, which is the global institution that provides cybersecurity certifications such as the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). The win was not only a huge success to me at a personal level but also demonstrated that what I learn at KamiLimu actually works, and more than that, it works at a world-class level.
The Mega Cyber Challenge Competition had 3 phases. First, participants were required to answer a cybersecurity question on ECCU’s website. My doubts started at this point as I found the question rather simple. However, I proceeded with the process because, at the very least, I would win bonus points at KamiLimu. About 40 participants from around the world progressed to the second phase, which involved a trivia game similar to Kahoot! I was quite familiar with the game format as we play Kahoot! a lot at KamiLimu, and this experience enhanced my confidence. I aced the questions, which were all cybersecurity-related, and emerged as the leader! Only the top three contestants from this phase advanced to the third phase, which is where the KamiLimu advantage really shone.
One of KamiLimu’s pillars is Scholarship Awareness, in which mentees are taught how to write award-winning scholarship essays. As fate would have it, the third phase of the competition involved writing a 1000-word response to one of the six questions shown below.
You would think that I would change my mind and take this competition seriously after seeing 6000 USD on the line, right? Well, at the time, I had more pressing matters that needed my attention, such as my internship. Additionally, I had barely considered further education except during a scholarship awareness session run by Dr. Chao in which she mentioned that we should not rush into higher education until we know what we want. This was the most practical piece of advice I have received regarding higher education. Time flew fast and soon, the submission deadline was approaching, yet I was still unbothered. “1000 words are too many. The formatting requirements are rather tiring. I need to focus on my internship. It is probably not even a full-ride scholarship anyway.” These were some of the excuses running through my mind.
It took the efforts of one of my friends at KamiLimu, Anastasia Rotich, for me to snap out of my reverie. She postulated that there was nothing to lose by trying and that I would either live with the regret of missing out on this opportunity or live with the knowledge that what KamiLimu teaches actually works. I found it hard to argue with that line of reasoning. Furthermore, I felt I should at least put to work the lessons taught to me by my mentors at KamiLimu. I selected the first prompt and the resulting essay can be found here.
The results came in on 18th of December, which, coincidentally, was also the day I was graduating from my 5-year Electrical and Telecommunications Engineering degree course. After an underwhelming online ceremony in which I was busy fixing a programming script, I went to the gym. A close friend video called to check up on me at 5 pm, and that is when I saw the email pop up on my notification bar.
And not at a local level or country level either!
I was top in the whole world!
To say I was elated would be an understatement. Winning was the positive reinforcement I needed to know that, at the very least, I was headed in the right direction as far as my cybersecurity career was concerned. I remember bench-pressing double the weight I was used to after seeing that email! Later, during an interview call I had with my assigned enrollment advisor, she mentioned that other reviewers were very impressed with my essay. Furthermore, she stated that I had won against people with over 10 years of industry experience, which she found surprising as I had barely half a year of professional industry experience under my belt.
I know that I won because I am that good. It also humbles me to know that it was God’s plan for me to join KamiLimu and for the program to play an instrumental part in enhancing my skills.
Therefore, when I say that KamiLimu is life-changing, I do it not from a place of wishful thinking. Neither do I express this opinion based entirely on the experiences of someone else: KamiLimu changed my life. It brought out the best in me. It taught me the skills I need to be world-class and compete at a global level. It gave me the community I need to keep me tuned and aligned to goals that go beyond myself. It encourages me to be the change that I want to see in the world — to answer the call to serve others in an improved professional and personal capacity; to upskill others; to dare to dream and see that I, Edwin Muema, have the capacity to make a difference in the world.
15 years from now when I am the top cybersecurity consultant at the United Nations International Telecommunication Union, KamiLimu will still be every bit an integral part of my story as it is right now.
Thank you KamiLimu.
Edited by Allan Wasega