Two years ago, Robert Ouma had given up on the dream of higher education. After high school, Robert, a Kenyan national, enrolled in the United States International University (an American University in Nairobi, Kenya), and completed his first year of study. But his mother had trouble paying the tuition bills, so Robert decided to drop out of school and look for a job. The job search was extremely difficult and Robert found himself at a low point in his life. Then, Robert’s uncle encouraged him to apply to his own alma mater, Montclair State University. He was still living in Montclair and offered to support his nephew’s studies by providing room and board. Robert applied to the University, and to his surprise and delight, was accepted.
But he still had to find a way to pay tuition costs. When he discussed the matter with an aunt who lives in the U.S., she offered to sponsor his education. Robert began his studies at Montclair State in the spring semester of 2010. When he arrived, Robert wasn’t clear about which course of study to pursue and was referred to the Center for Career Services. Career Services provided support including the Myers-Briggs test to help identify his interests and potential career paths. Together, they discussed ways to combine his love of speaking with his interest in business. Robert decided to major in Organizational Communications and minor in Business.
Robert found Career Services’ personalized attention to be invaluable. Since starting his studies, Robert has been very happy with the quality of education at Montclair State. According to Robert, in Kenya a comparable level of education could only be found at the nation’s top universities. He believes that Montclair State’s professors deliver an outstanding product, and encourage the students to question the material and offer differing opinions; in Kenya, students do not question the professor. Robert also enjoys being in a multi-cultural environment, something that was not available to him in Kenya. At Montclair State, he has interaction with students from all over the world, and feels that he is constantly learning about other cultures. Robert is currently assisting the International Services office as a student worker. He has a wide range of projects and interacts with the students who come in for assistance. He doesn’t believe he would have been able to find a similar job in Kenya until after graduation. Looking back, Robert cannot believe how much his life has changed for the better over the past few years. He went from giving up on his education, to being well on his way to earning a Bachelor’s degree. For this, Robert states, he is very grateful.