Daystar University while marking its 37th graduation, celebrated the success of the 2nd PhD graduate and the first woman to graduate with a PhD from the University, Dr. Nancy Achieng’ Booker. The Doctor of Philosophy in Communication presented a new shining star in the history of Daystar’s academic excellence.
“I can’t believe that it has finally come to an end. I am so grateful to God that He has seen fit to bless me for the hard work I have had to endure over the years. It’s not by my own doing because there were many times I felt like I don’t want to continue and I try to justify why I shouldn’t do a PhD,” said Dr. Booker.
During her dissertation, Dr. Booker was under the guidance of two diligent supervisors, Prof. Ann Neville Miller (Associate Professor at Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida) who was her main supervisor and Prof. Peter Ngure, Associate Professor of Parasitology and Entomology, Daystar University.
“I learnt a lot from the two of them. They were a great team and were committed to see me complete my research work. Contrary to what many people say about post graduate supervision, my experience was made a lot more endurable with this team of great minds and committed supervisors, not to mention the support from the School of Communication, Languages and Performing Arts.”
She also emphasised that a PhD journey in itself is a grueling experience which calls for support from all quarters and that many people give up when there is nobody to nudge them on. “From my experience, I must say I have also learnt so much about how to support post graduate students in their research work”, she added.
Apart from working on her thesis, ‘Daktari’ has also worked together with Prof. Miller in publishing a number of research projects on health communication; on how couples communicate in issues of HIV/AIDS and on how doctors and patients communicate with each other. This is where her interest in health and communication comes from, hence her area of concentration which cuts across media studies and health communication.
Essentially, her dissertation was on youth, sex and media and how the youth make meaning out of sexual content that they consume. Inevitably, this meaning making influences their norms and attitudes towards sex. Through her working experience as a lecturer in both Daystar University for close to 12 years and Multimedia University for close to 3 years, she interacted with students who struggle a lot with sexual issues.
The streaming of Shuga, a popular television drama, rendered her into studying it after she found the content very explicit and arousing for an ordinary viewer and therefore, she wanted to find out its impact on young adults who are sexually active. Dr. Booker also sought,to understand how they interpret such issues, since they were the primary target. To her, this study would help her figure out how she could be of help to young adults in relation to what they need to contend with in their daily lives as far as sexual and HIV/AIDS issues are concerned.
“ As a Christian, it is not just research for research sake but I ask myself, how can we influence the kind of messages that young people are receiving regarding their sexuality and regarding sex,”
“We cannot change the world if we do not understand it. Studying Shuga helped me understand the world and what is communicated, so that, if I am going to change the narrative, then I can only change it because I know what I am changing,” she added.
Dr. Booker went through a tough patch when she lost a dear friend, the late Ms. Mary Kizito, a former communication lecturer at Daystar. She confessed that the late Mary Kizito was more than just a boss to her but a friend and a mentor. Her death was a nightmare and a stumbling block to her work but with God’s grace, she had an understanding team of supervisors, employers and family members who supported and encouraged her throughout. She recalls how she cut off all worldly pleasures and even had to take a break from her teaching and administrative work at the university for close to a year to concentrate on her writing. Now, she says, is time to give back.
While speaking to Involvement, Dr. Booker testified that she has no regrets whatsoever in studying at Daystar and encouraged others who would want to study locally to do so. “The standards are very high and you get value for your time. I can confidently say that I am as good as, if not better than those who have studied anywhere else. The faculty are competent and the learning environment is great. What more would one wish for? “Daystar is home and wherever I go, I will always know that I have a home in Daystar,” she emphasized.
Her achievement is an achievement for women too and she was happy that through her hard work, the upcoming female students have someone they can emulate. She encouraged students to always work towards achieving their goal. To her, when you start a process, see the end and work towards it. Her parting shot, “see the end in sight when you start any process, and keep focusing on the end rather than the people or things that seem to derail you in the process. In the end its worth all the pain, the sweat, the tears, the sacrifices and the turmoil. It all makes sense in the end.”