‘I want to improve teaching at the University of Liberia’

University Fund 3 min. Melinde Bussemaker

When Keith Nyankun (35) graduated from the University of Liberia in 2015, he felt a strong desire to continue his studies abroad. He wanted to get to know a new culture, meet new people and develop himself further. First, he tried neighboring countries, like Ghana and Sierra Leone, but he still had the dream of going further afield. In 2019 he was awarded a scholarship from the Tilburg University Fund Foundation and started his pre-master’s in accountancy. On March 26th, 2022, he obtained his master’s degree.

“Friends had told me about Tilburg University and that the school has a very good international reputation,” Keith recalls. “That motivated me to apply for a scholarship. Studying abroad is very expensive. I could never have paid for it myself. Without the University Fund, I wouldn’t be where I am now.” Keith is the youngest of three children. His mother lives in Liberia, his sister in Canada, and his father in the United States. “During the civil war my father was studying in Egypt, and he has lived abroad ever since. We didn’t flee to a neighboring country during the war, but we did have to abandon our home for a long time. I have seen some things that I can never forget.”


My dream is to get a Ph.D. in empirical research in the field of accountancy and study how data and robotics can contribute to auditing

Keith Nyankun 

Big transition

Keith looks back with satisfaction on the program in Accountancy, though the pre-master’s was very demanding. “It has been a difficult journey. It was a big transition from the education system in Liberia to the education system in the Netherlands. In Liberia, you get more guidance, while in the Netherlands it is more about independent study. Here they give you an extensive syllabus and you’re supposed to get to work on your own. During my pre-master’s, I read a variety of academic papers. That was good practice, because at the end of the Master’s we had to write a paper ourselves. That was something I had never done before, even though in Liberia I graduated with a Master’s in Finance. I really needed the pre-Masters. If I hadn’t completed it first, the transition to the Master’s would have been a massive challenge.”

Dutch culture

Dutch culture also took some getting used to. “In Liberia, you don’t send a text message to a neighbor or friend first if you want to get together,” Keith laughs. “I soon learned that in the Netherlands you don’t just drop in on someone because they might be busy doing other things. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. I had to leave my family right in the middle of the coronavirus crisis and I was really homesick. That was tough.”

I had a strong desire to be educated and I got what I set out to achieve

Doctoral degree

With his Master’s degree under his belt, Keith now dreams of a future in education. He’s not sure whether he will take that next step in Tilburg or somewhere else. “I’m keeping my options open. It depends on where I can get a job or find a position as a Ph.D. student. My dream is to get a Ph.D. in empirical research in the field of accountancy and study how data and robotics can contribute to auditing. My interests are in the evolution of auditing. After obtaining my doctoral degree, I want to go back to Liberia to offer my knowledge to the university. At present, students get instruction from one another, as well as from lecturers; I want to improve teaching and research at the university.”

Major impact

“Despite facing the challenges of war and lack of funding, I still managed to obtain my Master’s degree. I think my family is proud of me. I am certainly proud of myself. I had a strong desire to be educated and I got what I set out to achieve. I’m very grateful for the support. The University Fund has not only had a major impact on my life but also the lives of others in Liberia because I will be passing on my knowledge. The funding, therefore, has a significant reach. I am very grateful to the donors and hope that I too will be in a position one day to donate money to help scholarship students.”

Date of publication: 12 May 2022