Evance Abok: First Class Graduate With Master's Degree Finds First Job After 8-Year Struggle

Evance Abok with former CAS David Osiany (left) and the graduate during his graduation at Chuka University in 2016.
Evance Abok with former CAS David Osiany (left) and the graduate during his graduation at Chuka University in 2016.
David Osiany/Evance Abok

If Evance Abok knew it would take eight years for him to secure his first job, he may have doubted his resolve. 

Abok, a Kenyan graduate who holds a Master's degree from the New York Institute of Technology, was employed as a project manager at Taka ni Mali, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), after the intervention of former Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) David Osiany. 

"Having seen the plight of Evance, and since I am currently privileged to serve on the board of one of the NGOs engaged in Waste Management, Sustainability and Circularity in the country, I reached out to the founder and the management to ask if they had a slot to suit his skills," narrated Osiany on Tuesday, August 16.

"Evance was then subjected to a robust interview with the Team Lead to assess his skills, competence and attitude. And after the 2 hours assessment, I am delighted to inform that Evance has walked away with an offer to be the Project Manager for a massive yet greatly interesting project with Taka Ni Mali." 

The new york institute of technology, Manhattan Campus.
The New York Institute of Technology, Manhattan Campus.

According to Osiany, it was clear from the onset that the Master's holder was sharp, has an analytical mind, a disciplined work ethic and a tireless pursuit of proving his skillset. 

Osiany added that he learnt of Abok's plight in one of his local WhatsApp groups and thoroughly investigated the extent of his struggle. If learning that Abok was jobless despite graduating top of his Master's class was heart-wrenching, then his other hardships are even more distressing. 

His academic success streak can be traced back to his time at Oriwo Boys High School, where he emerged top in his school after scoring an A- (minus) in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

He was subsequently admitted to Chuka University to pursue a degree course in Environmental Science and graduated with first-class honours in 2016. Abok was selected as the Valedictorian of his class after demonstrating exceptional academic resilience. 

His star brightened as he immediately secured a Fulbright scholarship, a programme funded by the United States Department of State, to pursue a Master of Science in Environmental Technology and Sustainability at the prestigious New York Institute of Technology.

Abok's own Struggles

On August 10, Abok penned a heartfelt post on Facebook detailing his struggle to find meaningful work in a dark period that lasted for eight years.

He noted that he was orphaned at the tender age of eight years, and his upbringing depended on his sole caregiver, a widowed grandmother. 

The New York Institute of Technology graduate Evance Abok
The New York Institute of Technology graduate Evance Abok

After completing school, Abok tried his luck in the business world, but most of his endeavours flopped, throwing him into a cycle of chronic depression.

"(I had) no meaningful professional engagement up to 8 years following my graduation from Chuka University (needless to say, as the best-graduating student on November 13, 2015); and more than five years after graduating with a Master’s degree from the New York Institute of Technology -scholarship," he recalled.

"8 years and counting… my life is a cocktail of so many things. You see, life is oozing unfairness; In fact, the only distinctive feature of life is its unfairness."

Studying at the New York Institute

His arrival at the New York Institute of Technology in 2016 presented a glimmer of hope for his future, especially with his love for environmental conservation.

A profile of the graduate on the institution's website paints him as an individual with a good sense of humour and a social conscience.

"He has always been involved in protecting the environment, including volunteering to clean urban areas, plant trees, and championing environmental conservation," read the profile in part. 

His career goal is to work as an environmental consultant, and he has a particular motivation: Kenya is rapidly industrializing, and Abok sees a clear need for technical and policy expertise so that Kenya’s development takes into account the need to protect environmental integrity," the New York Institute of Technology adds. 

Abok’s research interest is in air pollution prevention and remediation.

According to Osiany, Abok's academic achievement made him a good match for the NGO since "whereas the organization needed an expert in environmental technology and sustainability, someone actually had a Master's degree in both fields from a leading environmental school globally, and demonstrated capability."

In Evance Abok's journey, his triumph stands as an inspiring testament to perseverance, reminding job seekers to embrace grit and unwavering determination to break through.