13 contestants have been selected for the final of this year’s Mr. and Miss USIU-Africa-Africa beauty pageant. The contestants showcased their modeling skills and unique talents at a  ‘pre-judging’ event held on Thursday, November 2 in a packed and highly-energized auditorium.

The program started with an introductory walk by each of the contestants, to highlight their skill on the runway, followed by a ‘personality walk’ where each contestant expressed their unique style on the conventional runway walk. Contestants then paired up to perform a ‘couple walk’ and thereafter, each showcase their talents. In between the walks were performances by the dance club and some local musicians.

The panel of judges consisting of former Mr & Miss USIU-Africa 2016 Mr. Akintomide Akinyemi (IST, 17) Miss Kalpa Vrikshika (APT, ’17) and Miss Sheila Kanini selected finalist based on the contestants’ talents and their overall performance since the campaign began.

The ladies that secured their spot in the finale are Blessing Bakashaba (IR, Junior), Joycekayla Kiarie (IR, Sophomore), Mehreen Ahamed (Pharmacy, Sophomore), Mercy Onyango (Journalism Junior), Mercy Mwiti (IBA, Junior), Akual Chan (Criminal Justice Studies, Sophomore) Nelly Maina (Finance, Sophomore) and Eugenia Ignatius (IBA, Junior) . The gentlemen who qualified for the final are Aakash  Barot (APT, Junior), Faizal Ahmed (HRM, Freshman), Eric Ogwen (IR, Freshman), Caleb Prosper (IBA, Sophomore), Joseph Gordon (APT, Freshman), Adan Mohamed  (Accounting, Sophomore) and Denver Bagaka (IBA, Sophomore).

The talent showcase was won by Aakash  Barot (APT, Junior), Mercy Onyango (Journalism Junior), Mercy Mwiti (IBA, Junior), Eric Ogwen(IR Freshman), Joseph Gordon (APT, Freshman), Adan Mohamed (Accounting, Sophomore)  and Nelly Maina (Finance, Sophomore).

Kiambuthu Murugu (IR, Sophomore), one of the unsuccessful contestants was hopeful despite the disappointing showing, “I’m disappointed but I will keep looking out for more beauty pageant opportunities because this is what I love to do.”

This year the goal of the ‘pre-judging’ event is to raise funds for Al Taawon Education Center, a decrepit school located in the informal settlement of Korogocho, Nairobi. ­The Center lacks basic infrastructure for proper learning, a situation the pageant’s organizing committee is seeking to remedy by raising funds through the pageant. So far, they have raised a KES 100,000 – a far cry from their KES 4 million target. Despite this, the committee has high hopes of bridging this gap by securing the necessary sponsorships, coupled with high ticket sales before and during the pageant finale. The finale is scheduled for Thursday, November 23 at Nairobi’s newest mall - Two Rivers Shopping Mall, marking the end of the four-month-long campaign.
The New Economic Venture Accelerator (NEVA) has organized a Design Thinking for Business Innovation training sessions for NEVA members to equip them entrepreneurs with practical design thinking skills.

The training is conducted by Mr. Stanley Gichobi and Mr. Caesar Tuva, both of whom are co-founders of XD academy - an organization focused on training the next generation of social entrepreneurs and product developers by helping them understand the framework, logic and art behind user experience.

Each training session involves an introduction of different design thinking principles, which is followed by group discussions, focused on applying those principles to each group member’s enterprise.

The sessions, began on Thursday, October 5, and will run every Thursday at the Innovation & Incubation Center’s Research Lab. The objective of the training is to equip entrepreneurs with practical design thinking skills, design thinking is human cantered approach used in learning, collaboration and problem solving.

During each training entrepreneurs are taken through different design thinking principles then divided into groups where they work on applying those principles to their business and discuss with each other. Group members are then expected to apply the solutions they discussed, the present the benefits and challenges they faced in the next session.

NEVA is the university’s venture accelerator, which was formed with the purpose of assisting students and alumni who have existing businesses or harboring business ideas, to solve current challenges or develop their ideas to fruition. Entrepreneurs are also provided with a working space at the Innovation and Incubation Center, on the third floor of the Freida Brown Student Center. Here, they can host business meetings as well as connect with other entrepreneurs.
The HeForShe club screened The Mask You Live In on Wednesday, October 11 at the Freida Brown Student Center. The 2015 award-winning documentary film was written, directed, and produced by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, to discuss identity based on gender and in particular, masculinity.

In the documentary, boys and young men struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating the narrow definition of masculinity. Though the film explores what Ms. Newsom perceived to be harmful notions of masculinity in the American culture, “There are many similarities available in our African societies,” noted HeForShe Club Secretary Miss Joy Nyokabi.

According to Ms. Nyokabi, the club’s agenda is to hold discussions around movies and documentaries related to gender and depicting real life situations as experienced by men and women in African society.

The screening was followed by a brief discussion facilitated by Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Ngure Wa Mwachofi and basketball coach Harrison Kaudia, which explored masculinity in Africa in relation to gender roles, careers, sports as well as emotional intelligence.

The audience mainly composed of male students and members of the rugby team, exchanged perspectives in relation to individual experiences connected with the concept of masculinity. Such examples as “Man up! You throw like a girl! Be a man and stop those tears!” were provided as evidence of the increased pressure on boys and young men in our societies, to hide their emotions, “grab a mask” and ultimately distort their true identity.

Initiated by UN Women in September 2014, HeForShe is a 1.5 million-member movement that invites “people around the world to stand together to create a bold, visible force for gender equality.”
If you have been watching television lately, you have probably seen the latest trend of bearded men or women both locally and internationally.  Many will argue that it enhances the facial features of an individual, but, could this be the reason you are going bald?

According to research done in 1988 by Cabanac, bearded men retained more heat in their beard hence they grew more bald. The results obtained supported the hypothesis that the male baldness is a thermoregulatory compensation for growth of beard in male adults. The research involved both bearded and unbearded men and women whereby the area of the glabrous skin on the forehead, calvaria and that of the skin of lips, cheeks and neck was measured. During light hyperthermia, the evaporation rate in the bald scalp was 2-3 times higher than the hairy scalp. In women and unbearded men, the evaporation rate was equal while for bearded men, it was 40% less on the chin. The research also shows that men with higher beard lines have most receding hairlines.

As there are several factors that may influence male and women pattern baldness such as age, genetics and level of testosterone, the beard may not be solely responsible for baldness, as research is still ongoing. Thus, those growing beards may need to take heed to avoid premature baldness.

Reviewed by Dr. Were L. Munyendo (Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics)
Two weeks ago, we wrote about technical and soft skills and how those can be developed. As a follow-up to that article, we wish to further discuss core competencies that enable graduates to transition successfully into the workplace. In my opinion, these competencies are also key in enabling current employees to thrive.

USIU-Africa, through the Career Services Department, is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) - a community focused on the employment of new college graduates. NACE classifies these type of competencies as Career Readiness , which it defines as the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace

In accordance with its mission, NACE, through extensive research and a task force comprised of representatives from both the higher education and corporate sides, has developed a definition and identified competencies associated with career readiness for the new college graduate. (Details about the research are available here.)

If you’re a current student, check out the following competencies to gauge your career readiness and if you’re a current employee, ask a colleague, or even your supervisor, to rate you on each on a scale of 1-10, with one being the lowest and 10 the highest.

COMPETENCIES:

  1. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving: Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions, and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.
  2. Oral/Written Communications: Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters, and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.
  3. Teamwork/Collaboration: Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure, and can negotiate and manage conflict.
  4. Digital Technology: Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.
  5. Leadership: Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals, and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize, and delegate work.
  6. Professionalism/Work Ethic: Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.
  7. Career Management: Identify and articulate one’s skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.
  8. Global/Intercultural Fluency: Value, respect, and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity, and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.
These competencies are a great place to start in self-assessments as they give a clear definition and criteria of what to look out for in each.

If you have identified gaps in your career readiness or level of competency as a current employee, visit Career Services in the Freida Brown Student Center for an in-depth discussion on how to pursue growth in the specific areas. You can also email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any feedback.

Election Peace Photoshoot 19102017 074

Kenyan students pose for a photo as part of a USIU-Africa campaign to encourage Kenyans to maintain peace before and after the repeat presidential election slated for Thursday, October 26. From left: Almasi Mae, Akaash Barot, Simon Mwandoe, Janes Amondi, Meet Pancholi, Yvette Achieng, Ryan Otsimi and Renee Wangwe Photo: Dan Muchai

The university will remain closed on Friday, October 20 to commemorate the Kenyan national holiday – Mashujaa Day. This was announced by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza, in an email message to the entire university community, in which he also indicated that the university will close from Tuesday, October 24 to Sunday, October 29. This, he stateD, will afford an opportunity to Kenyan members of the university community, to participate in the repeat Kenyan Presidential Election slated for Thursday, October 26. Similarly, classes that were scheduled from Friday October 20 to Saturday, October 28, are cancelled.

In his message, Prof. Zeleza underlined the values of “peaceful coexistence as well as respect for the rights and property of others in speech and action” that all members of the university community share, adding his observation that these values were already practiced in our learning and working environment.

Since the repeat presidential election was ordered by the Supreme Court of Kenya on September 1, the country has experienced a rapidly deteriorating political environment that has led to calls for boycott and a withdrawal from the elections by the incumbent President’s main rival, Mr. Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga, a former Prime Minister of Kenya, was the keynote speaker during the 37th Commencement Ceremony in August 2015.

Prof. Zeleza urged students, staff and faculty to “continue to be that shining light of goodwill and tolerance that Kenya needs so desperately at this time”. Drawing inspiration from his experience as a historian, the Vice Chancellor reminded the community of their responsibility to write “a heroic chapter of integrity, leadership and service”, which he noted was “our gift to the future”.

While the university is closed, essential services will still be provided to campus residents. Contacts details for the security team, which remains on standby, are available on our website.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Paul Zeleza, met Executives within the Alumni Association in an informal forum dubbed Affinity Evening held at his residence on September 30, 2017. The executives enjoyed a night of networking as they reminisced their time at USIU-Africa. They also shared their post-graduation experiences as heard from the Vice Chancellor about proposed infrastructural and academic developments at USIU-Africa, as part of the Strategic Plan 2015/16 – 2019/20. Among them, the Vice Chancellor highlighted the proposed School of Communication, Creative and Cinematic Arts that will be house the undergraduate Journalism and graduate Communication Studies programs.

The Affinity Evening is a monthly informal forum where the Vice Chancellor and other members of the Management Board meet and interact with different interest groups within the Association. It was conceived as a platform for at creating mutually beneficial relationships between alumni and their alma mater, creating a platform where alumni can network and rekindle old friendships. Senior university officials also learn from post-graduation alumni experiences as well as how they would like to be engaged by their alma mater. The event is also an avenue where alumni learn about current developments at their alma mater, as well as the role they have to play in moving the university forward.

 The next Affinity Evening slated for early November, will focus on alumni who are senior corporate executives.
Peer Counseling Training (September 28, 2017)

Ms. Noel Khayanje (Senior Counselor) leads a training session for student leaders, peer educators and counselors on Saturday, September 29, in the Freida Brown Student Center. Photo: Antonio Longangi

The Counseling Center in collaboration with the Peer Counselors and Educators Club, organized a Level 1 training session from September 29-30 and a Level 2 training session from October 6-7, in the Freida Brown Student Center.

Both sessions were designed for student peer educators, counselors and leaders to empower them with key information and skills to reach out and counsel their peers, in order to bring about positive behavior change among the USIU-Africa student community.

The Level 1 session focused on imparting basic peer education and counseling skills including group counseling, exploring self-awareness for the peer counselor, self-esteem, values clarification, qualities of an effective peer educator and leadership. It also covered practical counseling sessions at individual and group levels.

The Level 2 course focused on specialist topics like gender issues in peer education and counseling, sexuality, HIV & AIDS and relationships, contraceptives, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV), drug and substance abuse, life skills, psychological first aid and self-care for the peer educator/counselor.

Trainers were drawn from among alumni, Population Services Kenya, Kenyatta National Hospital, Haven of Hope Rehabilitation Center and Counseling Center staff.

Armed with their new-found skills, participants are now expected to form peer groups to discuss and address issues covered in the training sessions, and plan for community peer outreach events and sessions. Such issues include, creation of awareness, offering support, counsel or referral on sexuality, addressing life skills gaps, drug and substance-related issues, among others.

They will also attend follow-up supervisory sessions at personal and group level, with the professional counselors, as they engage with other students.
A research paper by Dr. Kioko Ireri, Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, has been published in the current issue of African Journalism Studies – Africa’s leading journal in the field of journalism and mass communication. The paper – “Job Autonomy: How Kenyan Newspeople Perceive Their Journalistic Latitudes” – examines job autonomy in news selection decision, media freedom, media freedom-job autonomy relationship, and predictors of journalistic autonomy.

Findings show that over half (59%) of respondents believe that there is enough media freedom in Kenya. Similarly, there is a positive correlation between media freedom and journalistic autonomy—a relationship though moderate is statistically significant.

While four in 10 Kenyan journalists have “some freedom” in deciding what to include in news, only 15.5% enjoy “almost complete freedom,” and 31.7% have “a great deal of freedom.” When analyzed by demographics and work-related variables, male journalists reported higher autonomy than their female colleagues. Older and more experienced journalists have more freedoms than those who are younger and limited in work experience. Journalists with advanced education (doctoral and MA degree holders), those employed on full-time basis, and high monthly earners enjoy more job autonomy. Kenyan journalists working for international media organizations reported far higher autonomy than those in the local media. Job satisfaction and job security emerged as the strongest predictors of journalistic autonomy in the Kenyan media.

The study is based on a national representative sample of 504 journalists drawn from 62 media outlets in Kenya. The research paper is one of the ten variables that Dr. Ireri examined in his Indiana University- Bloomington doctoral dissertation – “Constructing A Portrait of Kenyan Journalists In The 21st Century: Demographics, Job Satisfaction, Influences On News Values and Autonomy, And Standards of Journalism Training”. Five other paper papers have been published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Media Ethics, Journalism, Journalism Practice, and Journalism & Mass Communication Educator.
On Monday October 9, digital strategist Mark Kaigwa and Kenyan YouTuber Aurthur Mandela (also known as Xtian Dela) engaged graduate and undergraduate students of communication in a forum dubbed “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) held at the Lecture Theater 5 in the Science Center, courtesy of Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication Dr. Lucy Gichaga.

Mr. Kaigwa, the founder of Nendo - a strategy & storytelling consultancy for digital Africa - gave a talk on ‘Uncovering the uniqueness of social media in the African context’ where he emphasized on the audience being the first determinant of what social media platform to use and proposed POST (People, Objective, Strategies and technology) as a roadmap in developing a social media strategy.

Mr. Kaigwa was listed as one of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30 Best Young Entrepreneurs in Africa in 2013. “The default device in Africa is the mobile phone where a population of only 350 million has access to the internet,” he said.

Mr. Mandela, who in his words ‘bumped into social media’, shared his journey to fame through social media and also imparted advice on how to build a brand, emphasizing on the importance of being relevant offline and making offline relationships worthwhile.

“The best place to network is at events,” he said as he encouraged his audience to offer free business services to gain brand visibility, as well as the need for consistency in order to develop one’s brand.

Mr. Mandela has won several awards including the Best Twitter Personality in Africa in 2015, the Best Facebook profile in Africa in 2016 and the second Most Influential Twitter Personality in Africa in the Africa Bloggers Awards.