Tuesday, February 24, 2015

From Kenya to HKU and Back - Erick Komolo (PhD candidate) Profiled in SCMP

Source: SCMP (Jonathan Wong)
"Kenyan PhD student in Hong Kong helps poor kids learn back home"
South China Morning Post
Gloria Chan
24 February 2015
Erick Komolo is a testament to the transformative power of education. Now the doctoral student has started a trust to give Kenyan children the same chance to escape poverty
As a poor village boy in western Kenya, Erick Komolo walked 10km a day to and from primary school. By the end of his final term his toenails were so worn down from the daily trek that they have never grown back, he says. But it was all worthwhile. "I'm better-off by far than anyone else in my village," he says, referring not to financial gain but to opportunities for a decent education.
     Komolo has travelled a long way from those dusty paths in his rural homeland. Now in his fourth year of doctoral studies at University of Hong Kong, researching international trade law, the 31-year-old has experienced first-hand how education has the power to transform lives... 
    Komolo, who decided to pursue his PhD in Hong Kong in 2011, thanks his father, a retired primary school teacher, for insisting that his 15 children go to school regardless of the family's circumstances...
     Another scholarship followed, allowing him to spend a year at the University of Kent in southern England, where he earned a master's degree in law. Returning to Kenya, he became a barrister in the capital, Nairobi, specialising in human rights.
     One of his most memorable cases was the Federation of Women Lawyers versus the president of Kenya, he says. "We challenged the president's decision to appoint fewer female judges to Kenya's Supreme Court. That case eventually led to an increase in the number of women judges in Kenya. That's important for a country where women are gravely marginalised."
     A year later, Komolo was again gripped by the urge to tackle a new challenge. "I was attracted to Asia, and Hong Kong in particular. I don't know why but there was something refreshing about it. I went to cybercafes in Nairobi and spent hours on Google. That's how I ended up applying to HKU. I'm glad I got a professor with similar research interests," he says...
Click here to read the full article.  Erick is completing his doctorate in the Faculty of Law on the regulation of marine fisheries in Kenya under the supervision of Dr Shahla Ali.

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