Nainika: from Mauritius to Manchester
Student experience 14th November 2022
Meet Nainika Sahye, a fully funded Mauritian state scholar and an aspiring mechatronic engineer. She tells us all about her story and journey as an international student here at The University of Manchester:
The 7th of February 2020 – was the day life changed completely for me. I still remember sitting in my living room with my sister by my side and watching the live broadcast from the Ministry of Education office in Mauritius where the names of “laureates” were being announced. Every year, the Mauritian government offers a scholarship to the few students who shine a little brighter than everyone else and make it to the top of the league in the academic race of A-levels.
Hailing from a family where I have grown up watching my parents strive to make ends meet, this bursary was my ultimate dream to turn our lives around for the better. This is why, when I did not make it to the top in my first try at A-levels, I took the risk and decided to give it a second go by working harder and persevering with the endless support of my Physics and General Paper teachers who would go out of their way to ensure I had access to every resource I could possibly ever need. Aware of the difficult financial situation of my household, my primary school teacher became my messiah when she decided to pay for my exam fees. Without these three gurus of mine, I would not be where I am today.
It felt like time stopped for a second when I heard my name being announced for the fully funded State scholarship. My sister looked at me with her jaw dropped and in that whirlpool of happenings, I found myself crying tears of joy, satisfaction, fulfillment, and excitement for what lay ahead. Becoming a laureate in Mauritius is a matter of such pride that for a few months following the proclamation, I was invited to several places across the country for interviews and prize-giving ceremonies.
Because of one such interview that was broadcasted on the ‘Top FM’ channel on Facebook, I got in touch with my greatest mentor- Dr. Kailash Sunneechurra. He is an alumnus of the University of Manchester himself, currently working as a programme manager at Rolls-Royce. His incredible journey from an aerospace engineering undergraduate student at the university to where he is presently has been my biggest inspiration until now.
I recall being so intrigued by a Bollywood movie called ‘RA.ONE’ which was about gaming, virtual reality, and robots when I was 12 years old that I wanted to build robots when I grew up. However, it was not until my discussion with Dr. Kailash that I went on this amazing self-discovery journey and realisation dawned upon me: Mechatronic Engineering is the way!
I knew that applying my hard-earned knowledge to build these programmable machines and watching my creations work would give me a sense of achievement and professional satisfaction that nothing else could. Since I was so passionate about following the trail blazed by my mentor, the University of Manchester already held a special place in my heart. After some online research, I was impressed by the rich history of science and engineering at this prestigious Russell Group university. A look into the future of engineering at UoM left me speechless: The newly purpose-designed Home of Engineering and Materials with state-of-art facilities for students was the largest home for engineering in any UK university! What more did I need?
The University of Manchester became my first choice in a matter of no time! Amidst the havoc that Covid-19 wrecked, receiving an unconditional offer from the department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at UoM was the best thing that happened to me in 2020. Despite all the restrictions put in place, I started gearing up for university and on September 11th, 2020, I set out on my bravest journey so far- packing my life in two suitcases, leaving behind my family, friends, and life, and flying to my dreams! To this day, I thank God every single day for my mentor- Dr. Kailash, and his wife. Since the moment I stepped out of the customs office at London Heathrow Airport, they took care of me like their own. They are the very reason I was able to get to Manchester and settle in without any issues. They have both been a constant source of inspiration, guidance, and support. 2020 was no doubt a difficult year for all university students.
Just like everyone else, I felt really homesick for the first few months and the Covid-19 restrictions only made things worse for my mental health. Fortunately, I lived at Dalton Ellis– a catered university hall! Through the dine-in system, I was no longer confined within the four walls of my room. I met with people from different fields of study and one such connection led me to the Student Angels Volunteering group. During that hard year, Student Angels were one of the very few groups at the SU that still provided face-to-face volunteering opportunities. Hungry for growing my network, I grabbed this opportunity zealously. Alongside the personal satisfaction, this noble work of helping the homeless with food and water procured, I managed to complete all my volunteering hours for the Stellify Award.
I got lucky again when my course announced that there were a few compulsory lab sessions I had to attend in person. Because of those, I got to make friends without whom I can no longer imagine my life here in Manchester. 2021/22 was perhaps the best year of my university life! The Home of Engineering and Materials opened its doors to all students for the very first time and the university resumed back on campus. The multitude of societies and extracurricular opportunities that came along has been the greatest highlight of my university life so far. I became the President of the close-knit Mauritian Society where my team and I organised events to gather the Mauritians around Manchester under a single roof and celebrate our native rainbow culture. Being passionate about performing arts, I joined the Indian Dance Society and made it to the advanced team with whom I performed at events like the Diwali Ball and Bollynights. If I look back, these are the memories I will cherish for life.
As you must have noticed already, I am really greedy when it comes to my personal growth and rounded development. So, I became an FSE student ambassador and project mentor, a PASS leader, and maintained my student rep role in the second year. I cannot be grateful enough for the person I have grown into and the skills that these roles have helped me develop. Let’s not forget the pinnacle of my academic accomplishment as a second-year Mechatronic engineering student: The Embedded Systems Project, more famously known as The Buggy Project. This was a year-long group project throughout which we built an autonomous line following vehicle. The professional satisfaction I felt while seeing our buggy work during the technical demonstrations was a feeling no words can describe. I can only imagine the growth of this feeling once I become a fully qualified Mechatronic engineer!
The buzz on campus heralds the beginning of a new academic year- a year full of new opportunities. As I venture further into this journey, I look forward to exploring new avenues at the University of Manchester to unlock my full potential and become an engineer of value! #proudUoMstudent
Watch Nainike and other faculty of science and engineering students receive their awards at our recent scholarship award ceremony: