Stephen's story

With our support, determined Stephen, 34, successfully juggled university, work and being a dad after a tough time.

“I’ve always been interested in knowing how things work and used to read electronics books when I was growing up in Nairobi. I remember helping my dad install solar panels on our home when I was 13. I was determined to become an engineer. But without IET Connect’s amazing support, I might have had to drop out of my studies.

I moved to London to be with my wife Lizzy in 2009 and soon started a degree in engineering at London South Bank University. In my first year, we separated and it caused a lot of financial problems. I was studying full-time and working part time six days a week, from 6am to 9am as a cleaner. I’d get home in the morning to the room I rented in a shared house, have a shower and rush to lectures and was never late even a single day. I was also taking care of my son Eric, who is now four, when he stayed over.

Working hard

I was feeling helpless but somehow I knew I would find a way out. I told myself to continue working hard and something would come up. I contacted IET about their scholarship programme but had missed the deadline. They recommended I become a member as IET Connect might be able to help.

Once I joined, the IET referred me to IET Connect who got in touch with me. They offered me a monthly grant, which was incredible. Before, I’d sometimes not eat because all my money went on paying my rent. I was able to buy food for myself and my son and to stop my part time job and concentrate on my studies. IET Connect also organised for me to have four career coaching sessions so I was more confident applying for jobs.

I graduated in October 2013 with a First Class Honours degree and got a job as an electrical engineer in Ipswich in January 2014. The amazing grant from IET Connect meant I did not have to steal all of my study time to work, just to make ends meet.

I have big hopes and want to become a chartered engineer. I’m settling in to my job and Eric is at school now. He asks a lot of questions and wants to know a lot of things at the same time, just like his dad.”

The amazing grant from IET Connect meant I did not have to steal all of my study time to work, just to make ends meet.

Stephen, Ipswich