Kidist Zeleke from Ethiopia is a 2007 AIMS graduate. Kidist is a strong-willed, ambitious woman who is passionate about empowering higher education in Africa, and making cutting-edge technologies accessible to all. She is currently completing her PhD in Mathematics at the University of Houston, in the United States of America.
What did you gain from AIMS?
Besides the 24-7 learning experience, AIMS was the place where I have drawn courage and hope for the future of Africa; where I was convinced that science and technology is the main way, if not the only, to solve the grand challenges in the continent. At AIMS, I have been introduced to various mathematical fields most of which I had never heard of before. I have enjoyed working in groups with students from different countries which established a life time friendship and a spirit of tackling problems together. I have learned simplicity and true interest in sharing knowledge from the amazing professors, invited tutors and AIMS stuff members. AIMS ignited undying fire of love towards my continent and responsibility to be one of those who will have major impact on a better future for Africa.
How did your education at AIMS prepare you for your current job/studies?
The various basic mathematical courses introduced to me, the essay I had to write to graduate and the computer skills that I acquired while at AIMS, provided the necessary experience and confidence to move on to my PhD in the field of computational mathematics which I am working on right now.
Which AIMS lecturer(s) made a lasting impression on you and why?
Almost all of the lecturers I have had were wonderful. And I remember all of them by name. I can't get Jan Groenewald, Jordi, Robert and Bernd out of my mind; that is because they were so approachable and respectful to students. I have seen professor Alan Beardon's number one principle of problem solving , 'start with a simple case' being very useful in solving almost any mathematical problem I face.
What advice would you give to today’s students?
Well, first of all I would like to tell you that you are so privileged to be at AIMS. I would like to advise you to take advantage of everything that AIMS has to provide. There is almost nowhere in the world of higher education where you can be in a non-stop learning environment for nine month, where you don't have to worry about your meals, electric bills and so on. Here are few things you should use at AIMS as much as you can: 1. The 24 hour internet access. 2. The amazing and very skilled and helpful IT staff. 3. Chat with the professors who dine and live with you. 4. Use the tutors to guide you on what you are interested on doing. 5. Use the students who have unbelievable knowledge in different particular areas you might not be familiar with; I have been introduced to the entire distribution theory by a student.