MIM Kofi Annan Fellow

MIM Kofi Annan Fellow

Interview with Nelly Kasei Ogonda, the first Kofi Annan Fellow of the ESMT MIM program

Nelly Kasei Ogonda was born and raised in Kenya as the youngest of a family with 10 children, four boys and six girls. Her father worked in food processing company while her mother was not employed. The family struggled financially and due to the limited resources, Nelly and her siblings had to share the little they could get. Nelly describes that at times her mother would sell her farm produce in order to help her father meet certain obligations.

What do you cherish most about your upbringing?

As per the African culture, most families tend to focus their resources on boys, but my father treated us in equal measure. My father did not disappoint as he tried his best to educate all his children irrespective of the gender. My upbringing taught me not to shy away from difficult situations and that there is always a solution.

When did you become interested in mathematics?

I developed my passion for mathematics in primary school, so when I joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, I opted to major in mathematics. My experience at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology further ignited my curiosity in mathematics and soon after finishing my undergraduate degree. I was incredibly fortunate to get a scholarship for academic excellence to do a master degree at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).

What motivated you to continue studying math?

I hoped to understand the application of mathematics in solving African problems and challenges. The AIMS-Senegal experience was incredible, as I got an opportunity to look at mathematics from a different angle, to network with different people and their cultures and an opportunity to realize my dreams and ambitions. Luckily, AIMS taught me to be able to work under pressure and bring out the best in each situation. My interest towards the finance industry grew incredibly while at AIMS. I have a great hope and faith that AIMS will change Africa with the pool of talented students and alumni they recruit and produce each year.

What do expect from your time at ESMT?

The opportunity I have gotten at ESMT will enable me to achieve my dreams of becoming a financial analyst and financial manager. I am looking forward to a wonderful experience at ESMT and to learn what things the developed countries are doing that we in the developing countries are not doing.

How would you describe yourself?

I am a passionate person and stand up for what I believe in. I hope to make a difference in the world in near future. My biggest motivators are my parents and the future of a better Africa. My final remark is always to trust in God, believe in yourself, and work hard and smart. Nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams if you have the will and passion. As they say, today’s hard work makes a better tomorrow.