Mum-of-three moves from Kenya to Preston to boost her career
A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) graduate who beat the odds to be awarded a first-class degree in mechanical maintenance engineering says her degree will give her a competitive edge.
Caroline Kasiemeka, 43, was an experienced senior technician at a key oil distribution centre in her native Kenya, but made the 7,000 miles move to Preston to boost her career.
Originally classified as a student with a 2:2 potential, Caroline seized every opportunity to enhance her learning through the University’s study skills support group WISER, and has graduated with first-class honours.
Now she says her degree will help her to shine when she returns to Africa – though she isn’t done with Preston just yet.
The mother-of-three, who was the only female on the mechanical maintenance engineering course, will return to UCLan in September to begin a research masters.
She says: “I have learnt so much that I now possess skills and knowledge that even my bosses in Kenya don’t have. I don’t think I am the same person as when I started degree and there are lots more opportunities available to me now.
“I feel that now I can stand out even more and I want to build on that through the master's programme.”
"I have learnt so much that I now possess skills and knowledge that even my bosses in Kenya don’t have. I don’t think I am the same person as when I started degree and there are lots more opportunities available to me now."
Caroline says she never had any doubt that she would achieve first-class honours, but admits she found some elements of the degree challenging.
She explains: “It is very different here compared to Africa, and there were things such as referencing and research that I found difficult at first. My tutor recommended WISER to me and it was a great help. I received a lot of valuable support from Karen Smith at WISER, as well as from Bob Frost who is the faculty librarian and helped me a lot.
“I found the fundamentals of engineering simulation module very challenging because I’d never seen anything like that before and it was frightening at first. I had to find courage, but I decided to set up a study group and I found myself enjoying it. Now I’m pleased I had that opportunity.”
Caroline adds that her family were initially concerned that she would find it difficult moving to a new country as a mature student and the only female on the course – but they needn’t have worried.
“I’m a tough cookie,” she says, “and age is just a number. I’ve made lots of friends and I’ve enjoyed my time at UCLan.
“The icing on the cake was my course leader, Dr Nathalie Renevier. She went above and beyond and was so encouraging during my time here.
“There are things I have learnt in a classroom setting that I never would have learnt in industry. I’m confident I can get better work now and that’s because of UCLan.”
Caroline is one of more than 4,000 students who graduated in front of family and friends at Preston’s Guild Hall.