By Ravelomahafaly Andriamihaja Guénolé
“After I had completed my scientific option baccalaureate in 2009, I had no idea what university life had in store for me. But now, I can congratulate myself on having survived”
My name is Ravelomahafaly Andriamihaja Guénolé. I am a 20 year old second year student studying at the IHSM marine institute at the University of Toliara, Madagascar and fellow of the Roger Samba and Jean Paul Getty Award.
Life as a student wasn’t always easy. Many students give up the adventure for lack of resources. You have to take care of yourself; we have to find a part-time job to support your needs, buy materials and all the necessary things for the course. Despite state support, higher education is a chance that is not always available to everyone in Madagascar. Fortunately, there are grant programmes to encourage students to study in the noble cause of conservation for natural resources.
Thanks to the Roger Samba and J. Paul Getty scholarships, I can be fully committed to my classes, I can travel and hope to widen my career prospects for later life. I also enjoy updating a blog promoted by Radio France International, dedicating myself to the discussion of issues on the environment in Tulear.
From my education in marine science, I discovered another way of studying that I had never known before: learning in harmony with the sea and nature. Although theoretical courses between four walls are interesting, curiosity and discoveries during field trips are much more exciting and I think many would agree.
After a successful first year of university study, I found myself looking forward to the next one. You have to be flexible and use independent learning. There is no one to tell us what to do like there was in high school. We are totally masters of our choice. It’s not that the teachers do not want to take care of us, but they want to show their trust and belief in our abilities. I think that investing and acting in cases of local development is one way to prove that the world can count on us.
The J. Paul Getty Award, described by US president Ronald Reagan as ‘the Nobel Prize for conservation’ was established in 1974 and recognises outstanding leadership in conservation. The award recognises achievement in three annually rotating categories: political leadership, scientific leadership, and community leadership in conservation.