Don’t focus on the challenges, look beyond them

During the #ICYA2017, many students had their say. One of them was of Vera Sham from Cameroon who is studying Plant Phytology in Wageningen University. With her roaring voice she proudly silenced the audience by telling her story.

Listening to her, I decided that I had to talk to her. Her story is quite similar to mine and perhaps to those of many other students studying agriculture.

Vera did her BSc. in agriculture in Cameroon. Many people asked her why she chose agriculture when she could  become a doctor or lawyer. She took on leading roles at her university in Cameroon, was vice president of the student association, and also academic officer. Moreover, impressively, she is member of the American Phytopathology Society.

She chose  agriculture, because looking at the future of Cameroon, she knew that agriculture would be one of the main sectors to work in. She did not only want to satisfy the country’s needs, she also chose it because of her own interests. Vera loves working in the agriculture field. The reason why she chose phytopathology is because producing healthy fruits and vegetables is one of her main goals.

‘Many of my professors motivated me to apply, because I was a good student who always wanted to see change. So I organized all my documents in small cybercafes and send them to several universities. I didn’t hear anything for a long time , but I didn’t give up my hope. Then one day I heard that Wageningen University wanted to sponsor my tuition fee for two years. I then searched for living allowances at several organizations with succes. This is how I came to Wageningen University.’

Vera’s plan is to go back home  and apply what she has learned in Europe in her own community.  She would like to contribute to  setting up a plant science laboratory, something they currently don’t have in Cameroon. The reason she wants to start a laboratory is that is will enable people to be educated and carry out research in Cameroon itself. That will benefit farmers, who can approach scientists and ask for advise concerning with their plant pest and disease related problems.

The message that Vera would like to give to the coming generation is: ‘Don’t focus on the challenges, look beyond them. Motivate yourself . I said to myself that I can do this, and I did it. Do not sit with ideas and think someone will turn them into reality for you. Go and do it yourself.’

I am so glad I met Very and that I had that chance to talk to her. I hope her words will inspire you as much as they inspired me!

Blogpost by Sandhya Maniram , #ICYA2017 Social Reporter – sandhya_maniram@hotmail.com

Picture courtesy of the author.

This post is part of the live coverage during the #ICYA2017 – The International Conference for Youth in Agriculture, organised by IAAS (The International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences).

This post is written by one of our social reporters, as part of their training on social reporting, and represents the author’s views only.

The #ICYA2017 social reporting project is supported by GFAR, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research.