[RUFORUM PhD Experience] Dr. Matia MUKAMA – My PhD Journey!

Dr Matia Mukama and Prof Umezuruike Linus Opara on the graduation day at Coetzenburg Centre, Coetzenburg sports grounds, Stellenbosch University on 12 December 2019

Having been fully immersed in the research and knowledge industry through my MSc (Food Science) training under the South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology (SARChI-Postharvest) at Stellenbosch University under leadership of Distinguished Prof. Umezuruike Linus Opara, I was excited when Prof (U.L. Opara) on my MSc graduation day (9th Dec 2015) encouraged and recommended that I apply for a PhD under his mentorship. My only worry then was how to fund the forthcoming PhD study. With his assurance of “we will find a way,” we applied, after which I left for Uganda. I received admission in March 2016 and begun the chase for my travel and visa requirements.

Earlier, in January 2016, the then Programme Officer – Training at the Regional Universities’ Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), Dr. Sylvia C.C. Mkandawire had notified me of a new publicised PhD funding opportunity, the DAAD In-Region/In-Country Scholarship Programme for PhD studies within East Africa. This was targeting both in-country and in-region (sub-Saharan Africa) applicants, supporting selected RUFORUM regional PhD Programmes in the Eastern and Central Africa (ECA). In my field, the funding available was for PhD in Food Science and Nutrition at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology – Kenya (JKUAT). I did apply for the scholarship and for admission to JKUAT. It was a three year programme meant to run from 1 Sept 2016 to 1 Sept 2019.

Upon completion of my travel and visa requirements, I travelled to Stellenbosch University in August 2016 to commence my studies under a one year grant that Prof Opara had secured under the Post-Harvest Innovation Programme 2016. Fortunately, around the same time, I received the good news of being selected for the DAAD-RUFORUM In-Region/In-Country Scholarship Programme, 2016 (57299300). On the downside, I had not heard from JKUAT in spite of repeated requests for feedback on my application before I travelled. It thus heaved a sigh of relief when DAAD instead accepted to fund me for the programme I had hitherto started at Stellenbosch University, outside the scholarship funding region.

Please read the complete story here

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