John Gitau Wairimu, a Kenyan man who became one of the only four individuals to graduate with Masters degree in Nuclear Medicine Technology in whole of United States has opened up on his journey to the academic milestone.
Gitau and three other Americans will be graduating in the maiden Nuclear Medicine master’s program at The University of Alabama in Birmingham UAB.
Speaking to Jamhuri News, Gitau narrates how his childhood passion for physics pushed him to enroll for a course in automotive manufacturing at Alabama University, before ultimately dropping out after one year of study out of fear of its dwindling demand in the job market.
"I always had this passion in physics and fixing things around the house growing up. So I wanted to be in engineering, and I applied to a school in Alabama and enrolled in a course in automotive manufacturing 13 years ago. But the automotive industry was failing, and out of fear, I dropped after 1 year; but not before finishing a welding course in that program (am a very good by the way lol).” Gitau says.
Like a majority of African immigrants in the US, he was almost lured to studying nursing after numerous advise from friends, but his dislike for nursing drove him to enroll in Medical school.
”I didn’t like nursing…I was trying to get into Med school, but after talking to advisors, they pointed that I had too much Physics background in me to just let it run through the drains. So Nuclear Medicine came up……It involves a lot of physics and also a lot of patient care courses, you know, biology chemistry, so upon doing a little research I just fell in love with it.” Narrates Gits.
He opted to then pursue a bachelor’s degree in public health after attempts to enroll for Nuclear Medicine Technology programme failed. In 2014, when Nuclear Medicine was elevated to master’s and he applied together with a few others, but none qualified as the bar had been set too high.
”It took me another year of studying for the GRE and finally made the cut points. In the second application, 21 of us applied, but not all met the requirements, and to my understanding, half of them did not pass the GRE with the cut points required to get accepted in UAB graduate school. UAB is a very prestigious research and University hospital recognized worldwide, and so one is required to have a very high standard to get accepted in any of the programs” he said.
He says his journey has not been a walk in the park, but he pursued his dream despite dropping out of school for two NAD half years, he says: ” God worked his ways, plus motivation from friends and fear of failing my mother and the many folks who believed in me. I had to go back finish what I came here to do.”
About his plans in the future he said: ”I’m pursuing my Ph.D. in healthcare management next, but I plan to do it part-time starting 2018. I don’t want to be too late starting a family. Hopefully, I’ll meet a good wife who will support my dreams and that will be a plus.”