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Student testimonial of the new MSTAH

The challenges in the life of a working student.
The Kenyan Jackson Musee Kathoka is a student of the Tropical Animal Health master programme, which is a collaborative effort between ITM and the University of Pretoria. There are 24 students in this first edition: half of them (like Jackson) are based in Antwerp and the other half in Pretoria in South Africa. The course is blended: most modules are online, and some practical ones are taught face-to-face.

"The core online modules were designed to change our way of thinking from undergraduate to graduate mentality, which they achieved! They brought something completely fresh to the table; the One Health basics was a great eye opener, it enabled us to interact on this subject and it taught us to be open for the opinions of our colleagues. Research methodology was a fantastic module, we learned a lot about proper scientific writing scientifically. Laboratory diagnostics prepared us for the task ahead, the involved risks and expectations. We acclimatized into the real lab setting quite fast.

The face-to-face phase has been very exciting, especially since I had only briefly met my classmates before, back in South Africa during the induction session. The practical classes were well-conducted by the supervisors and the lab technicians, the most outstanding was the molecular biology module, probably because we were able to a great deal of practice.

I work for a government parastatal as a senior veterinary officer. I was actually lucky for not having gone on leave for about four years prior to the face-to-face session here in Antwerp and so I had accumulated a lot of days to comfortably undertake my studies, otherwise I could have been forced to take a study leave. Strict time management is a must for a working student: at work we are expected to deliver on out duties but we are supposed to meet deadlines for tests and assignments for our studies. So now I have the habit to take my tablet everywhere with me - in case my appointment is late I can spend my time usefully and study. As a result, I have become a much more efficient person in the past months!"

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