Initially, as I applied for the MasterCard foundation scholarship, the two major ways I foresaw myself making a contribution to my home community using this newfound opportunity was by developing the “HYDRA 256 artificially intelligent purification dam” robotic concept that I had invented in 2013, and developing my creative writing skills to better poise myself as an article writer to promote public policies and health awareness. In relation to the latter, I hoped to improve on my proficiency in writing prose fiction, which I had been passionate about for most of my early life, and through this, I’d share ideas for community development in a more creative sense. My inspiration for the aforementioned robotics project came from witnessing the deprivation of clean water that most of Northern Uganda (region of my ancestral origin) suffered. I noted that the region had resources, and was potentially productive, but had seasonal droughts, and floods: conditions that could be alleviated by methods of purifying and utilizing excess water in wet seasons for use in the dryer seasons, meanwhile also supplying “clean” solar/wind electricity that could thrive in the sunny climate of the region.
I intended to use the support of robotics clubs at UBC to get professional assessment, insight and advice on the feasibility and development of the robotics concept. As for my creative writing, that was something I was considering having as a minor, with the hope that that would be sufficient. However, in coming to UBC, I soon discovered some unforeseen considerations. In my inquiries about the robotics clubs here, I learned that there were no clubs with objectives to develop free-lance projects for any purpose. To the best of my knowledge now, there is no way to develop this project through a club, and the only possible way is through the faculty of engineering. I always knew that the project assessment, development and implementation required the intervention engineering professionals, but I never had any personal interests in pursuing a degree in engineering, so I had to put the idea on hold. Any support, however to revitalize the idea, is much appreciated.
Consequently, my interests have reverted to a passion I have had for as long as I have been in education: to make a contribution to the health sector of my country. Much of my inspiration came from witnessing the life and work of my mother, who has been a nurse for as long as I have known. Spending a lot of time at the hospital, and contributing subtly to her work exposed me to the perils of health sector in Uganda. I resolved that as much as I could not contribute directly to public health policies (as a bigger, and perhaps, more political picture), I could use voluntary and professional service to extend medical treatment to hospitals. Also hopefully, I could inspire other health professionals to do the same. The most plausible way to achieve this has always been through attending medical school, and pursuing a career as a medical doctor.
Coming to UBC has in two ways modified this objective: medical school has become by far more far-fetched now than it has ever been, but however, I have been introduced to other disciplines that could possibly also serve to create revolutionary change to the health sector. This is the primary explanation for my inspiration to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Immunology. I intend to use this profession to contribute to medical and public health research in my country: focussing on vaccine and drug development, and epidemiological techniques. This would be through participating/ creating research projects at facilities like the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), and more subtly, vaccination programs in hospitals country-wide. These are sectors that have suffered lack of funds and technology in Uganda, yet could change health care forever. I also intend to use my exposure to facilities and organizations out of the continent to garner support for these sectors.
This is an objective best served by graduate school standing but working with what I currently have, I will strive to attain an honours undergraduate degree while at UBC. Though this might mean that I cannot have creative writing as a minor without risking an overload, I believe it will better serve my revised objectives. To further explore this idea, I currently consider two approaches; acquiring mentorship from professionals within this discipline and taking on laboratory/research positions to build my practical experience. I have so far sought mentorship and participated in the Undergraduate Research Experience REX program, and made an application off campus for a role in a clinic. I intend to scout for and apply for such similar opportunities, and any help in this endeavour is much appreciated.
Most of the questions I currently have about my objectives include, but not limited to the following: Is there a way to pursue a robotics project without being a student in the faculty of engineering? Could I have any assistance in scouting for laboratory/research opportunities considering my limited experience thus far? Do I have any hope for mentorship, or links to organizations with in the Microbiology/immunology industry?