Guigma's Story

“When I was awarded the Scholarship it was like someone waking me from my dream and giving me the keys to realise it.”

Tosin on a white backdropKiswendsida Guigma

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Kiswendsida Guigma came to Sussex from Burkina Faso to study for a PhD in climate change. Due to graduate this summer, he has returned home to further his contribution to climate science and, he says, to make a difference to his fellow Africans. This is his story.

“My name is Kiswendsida Guigma and I was born in Burkina Faso, Africa. I was raised by a modest family and was educated at public school, where tuition fees were (and still are) largely affordable. In 2011, I was awarded an Algerian Government Scholarship to study for my undergraduate degree in Algeria. I simultaneously became the first person in my family to go to university. After graduating, I enrolled at the Institut Hydrometeorologique de Formation et de Recherches, also in Algeria, to study for an MSc in Meteorology. When I completed my studies, I returned to Burkina Faso to work for the National Meteorological Agency.

“I had always dreamt of studying for a PhD, so when I was awarded the Peter Carpenter Africa Climate Change Scholarship at Sussex, it was like someone waking me from my dream and giving me the keys to realise it. The Scholarship was a game changer in my life and career. I couldn’t have afforded to study for a PhD at a leading university like Sussex without it.

“From my very first day on campus, all I kept thinking was that after three years I would be graduating with a PhD from this beautiful and prestigious institution. Beyond that, there was science to produce for Africa. After visiting my new office and meeting my main supervisor and some fellow doctoral students, I realised that I had all the tools to succeed right there in front of me. All that I needed was determination.

“Loneliness was a challenge to begin with. When I arrived, my peers were on the verge of completing their doctoral studies. Other students arrived after me, but they left to pursue field work. As a result, I was often alone in the office. There were positives to the isolation though as it allowed me to stay focused on my studies and I soon adapted to working in a quiet environment. In fact, I now prefer to do so – a blessing during the Covid pandemic!

“My best memories of Sussex are from my induction weeks. They were great times! I really enjoyed the ambiance on campus and meeting so many people from all over the world, every one of them enthusiastic about the time they would be spending at Sussex. Other favourite memories include walking through Coldean Wood and Stanmer Park – I definitely have more appreciation for nature and the countryside now. I also loved the rain showers in late spring.

Now that I've graduated, my main objective is to be useful to Africa and my country, Burkina Faso. I want to use my qualifications to make a noticeable contribution to climate science as well as to my fellow Africans. Studying for my PhD helped me to realise how small my contribution will be, but also what a difference I can make.” Kiswendsida guigma
peter carpenter africa climate change scholarship recipient

“Of course, everything that I go on to achieve will be thanks in part to the Peter Carpenter Africa Climate Change Scholarships Programme. I would absolutely encourage other alumni to support scholarships at Sussex, especially in the field of climate change. Besides the impact that scholarships will have on individual students, they will also contribute significantly towards solving some of the major challenges that we, the human race, and our planet are facing. We need more science and more action now – before it’s too late!

“I say “BARK WUSGO” (“thank you” in Moore, a Burkina Faso language) to Peter Carpenter for such a valuable and life-changing opportunity. I hope that many other young and enthusiastic Africans will go on to benefit from his generosity, as well as that of other alumni who support scholarships at Sussex.”

Sussex alumnus, Peter Carpenter (MAPS 1969), established the Peter Carpenter Africa Climate Change Scholarships Programme at Sussex to enable African students to undertake doctoral studies in climate science. Explaining the rationale behind his generous philanthropy, he says:

“Working in Mobile Communications in Africa in the 1990s, I became acutely aware that Africa was in the front line of actual climate change. I founded the Scholarship Programme to enable African students to study at Sussex and then return to Africa to build capacity in the understanding and mitigation of climate change.”

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