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Executive and professional education

 

Yvonne Omenya
Yvonne Omenya (MFin 2013)

“I
was elated that I got in, but I knew that the offer to attend was without a scholarship
at that stage so it really was more of a 50 per cent joy. Then when I got the scholarship
that was really the extreme joy.”

The
life changing email from Cambridge for Yvonne Omenya came in the middle of her working
day at a sugar manufacturing company in rural Kenya. She left her desk early and
rushed home to share the news with her family – she was going to be part of the
MFin Class of 2013.

“It was surreal. Until you are in a developing country I don’t doubt somebody is really able to appreciate what it means. My dad was elated. I’m the first-born daughter in the whole of the family line for both my parents – everyone is looking up to me. So, for me it was more than coming to Cambridge. It was also about believing in yourself, setting a good example for the younger ones, telling them that if you work hard it can happen.”

Her
scholarship of £27,000 covered the majority of her tuition costs and, during her
academic year in Cambridge, the School contributed an additional £1,000 towards
her living expenses, as did her College Hughes Hall.

Nonetheless
Yvonne still took out a substantial personal loan of around £20,000 from a Kenyan
bank.

Thinking back on that now she admits “the loan was quite stressful, but I had faith in Cambridge. I knew that there was no way I would go to Cambridge and then nothing would change afterwards. And the funding gave me peace of mind to concentrate on my studies.”

When pushed Yvonne admits laughing that, “I did perform well, and also met my personal goal”.

She confesses to feeling “awe-struck” on her first day at the School. “Before I even came to Cambridge I used to look at it in pictures. I had virtual views of Cambridge and it looked lovely. But on that day it was like ‘yes! Finally I’m here! And I’m here to work hard.'”

Yvonne was hired by Barclays in London directly after graduation. Two years later she was able to pay off that huge personal loan in Kenya. Then in July 2017 she moved to her current job with the risk advisory team at Deloitte in London.

The
scholarship, then, super-powered her career but also enabled many other positive
changes too.

“My work in the UK has even helped me build a house for my mum back in rural Kenya. It has solar power so that she can have a better life. I don’t think I could have done that as soon as I would have loved to if I wasn’t here.

“There
are people who can afford to come to Cambridge. I knew I couldn’t. But then I did.”