Mr. President, tell us about yourself
My name is Bill Kaunda Gwendo. I joined Mount Kenya University in September 2017 after my admission to pursue a degree in Pharmacy. Currently I’m proceeding to my 5th and final year. I serve as the Chairperson Mount Kenya University students association, the pharmacy students association of Kenya (KEPhSA), and the Chairman Kiambu University college students and alumni association ( KUCSAA). I’m also the founder and Director of NAJIMUDU NAJIWEZA a non governmental organization that aims to equip and skill persons living with disability in various sectors so as to promote inclusivity and realizing the affirmative action.
Tell us about steering MKUSA during this pandemic
Steering the Students Association during the pandemic is quite a hurdle. This is attributed to the crisis being experienced post lockdown. Issues surrounding mental health, financial constraints, general wellness among others. These problems have in one way or another affected students lives. It may take a while to get back to our normal life.I feel that leadership is about taking responsibility and being consistent in it. Capitalize on the available and ensure it becomes better. To put it simply, whatever your hands finds to do,do it well. Good leadership also goes with good mentorship. I owe all this to Individuals before me who singled me out in a way or another and encouraged me to push forward. The ones who offered me guidance and support and also to those I continue to mentor. Filled with a limitless pit of knowledge, the world has a lot to learn from and the only way to get the knowledge is from each other. We grow by learning from each other . Any leadership encompass intelligence, responsibility, diligence and humbleness.
How do you strike the balance between your studies, leadership roles?
I balance my school work and my roles by being efficient. I achieve this by waking up early everyday, and scheduling what I need to do during the day, afterwards I study before starting my day. MKUSA roles sometimes bite off a huge chunk of my time leading to skipping lessons. I make arrangements with my lecturers and course mates during such occasions to have a make up and get notes respectively, as with practicals. Leadership opens one’s mind in terms of management and understanding. If you put your mind on something it will automatically be easy to actualize it.
What inspired your to vie for MKUSA President? What are your roles, just but a few
The quest to incorporate leadership for all devoid of segregation and incapacitation. I also envisioned promoting constitutional reform, students based business as well as reviving and revitalizing the clubs and associations.
My main role is chairing the students council and maintenance of a cordial relationship between the administration and the students body among others.
As the President of the largest private university in East & Central Africa, what role are you playing in ensuring adherence to COVID-19 guidelines in the University?
I do sensitization with the help of my team, we use print media, student influencers and the staff to help enforce COVID-19 protocols as laid down by the Ministry of Health.
Through the clubs and association and with the initiatives like mentor me we aim to reach out to a good number of students for mentorship as well as guidance and concerns facing students during their stay in the university.
With Freshmen joining MKUSA umbrella, what are your plans on conducting civic education on leadership opportunities in MKUSA & elections?
We have the various opportunities including orientation and student activities like sports, art and clubs. We also have leadership programs that will aim to train and inspire students to take responsibility and be consistent in what they do.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced while discharging your duties? And achievements
Striking that balance between studies and leadership, lack of proper communication from the administration leading to uncertainty however this has been through relevant offices and we’re seeing improvements.
Some achievements and or strides we have made include the revival of clubs and registration of new ones. The compilation design and publication of the MKUSA magazine dubbed as The Infinite, is smartly tucked in as a dream come true, too. The issue of inclusivity and representation has also improved with recent signing of MOU with a number of institutions including NCPWD to support persons with disability. I have also brought on board the alumni ,we did a test run with the pharmacy alumni and now the upcoming medical camp with the alumni. With the support of the alumni we are looking to start an alumni scholarship fund for needy students, too.
With the rise of mental health cases in the country, what steps are/have you taken to address it?
Mental health has been the sword of Damocles in the recent years, we have made plans and partnership with a number of institutions to bring the discussion to light so that we can have amicable solutions and understand mental health and the coping mechanism as well as the preventive measures. I look forward to more solutions tailored by and for the students to help mitigate this problem.
Which book are you currently reading?
Currently I am reading the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It is the story of a shepherd boy from Spanish province of Andalusia who dreams of traveling the world in search of a treasure as desirable as any ever found. An unforgeable story about the essential wisdom of listening to our heart and above all, following our dreams.