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Akello refused to take ‘no’ for an answer

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th May 2009 03:00 AM

WE all tend to give up after failing on the first or even second trial, don’t we? And so I was amazed by 26-year-old Susan Akello, a doctor at Nakasero Hospital, who fought for a scholarship until she got it.

By Carol Natukunda

Who is Akello?
Born in 1982 to Mr. and Mrs Adakun, Akello. She and is the first born in the family of four.

Went to Spire Road Primary School

Studied O’Level at Tororo Girls School

In 1999, she joined St. James Secondary School in Jinja and studied physics, chemistry, biology and submaths.

WE all tend to give up after failing on the first or even second trial, don’t we? And so I was amazed by 26-year-old Susan Akello, a doctor at Nakasero Hospital, who fought for a scholarship until she got it.

Akello was a second-year student at Makerere University when she applied for the scholarship in April 2003, but she missed interviews for the scholarship with the Madvhani group. At the time she was in Kumi, her village, doing internship at a local hospital and had no access to newspapers. She only discovered she had been short-listed for the interviews nearly eight weeks later and the panel was already selecting the beneficiaries.

“I cursed myself. I cried, I felt bad...,” she said.  However, Akello “badly” needed the scholarship. Paying her tuition was taking its toll on her parents, who are teachers earning meagre salaries and had other children to cater for.

Boldly, Akello went to the Madvhani offices and pleaded her case. “The Company Secretary (S.K Lyengar) was annoyed with me. He said I was not serious… How do you forget about your application?” he asked.

She was crestfallen; she cried for two weeks. She then dried her tears and called Lyengar again to plead her case. He laughed. How did Akello expect the members of the panel, some of whom were abroad, to travel back – for this “unserious girl”? Moreover, she did not look desperate – her parents had paid fees for her first year in university. Although Akello was disappointed, she never gave up.

She called Lyengar for the third time. He was amused that Akello had not given up. She won. The board sat hastily, for this one girl. And the first question was: “Convince us that you deserve the scholarship.”

Akello snapped: “In Africa, parents don’t save for a child’s education. They borrow or sell whatever they have...” “But how come you’ve managed to go to school?” one white woman remarked.

Akello gave an emotional outburst. She could not feign orphanhood, but she needed the scholarship. “Ask them…” she told the woman “…Ask any African on this panel, how they went to school…”

Two days later, in September 2003, she got the scholarship. Now, as a doctor, Akello confidently strides across her workplace – Nakasero Hospital – with a smile. “If you apply for a job or a scholarship, you can have it. If you apply and fail, try again. Giving up is not an option,” she says.

And sorry guys, she is hooked! She got married in 2006 and is the mother of one child. And yes, her husband is supportive of her work. “It doesn’t bother me to wake up in the middle of the night to attend to a patient. When you love what you do, your spouse learns to live with it.”

Akello refused to take ‘no’ for an answer

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