Worlds Apart: Life at University in Australia
This year, KCE’s pioneer class of girls graduated high school and left for colleges around the world! We wanted to share what this incredible journey has been like through the eyes of one of these students.
Sharon, pictured below, is one of three of our girls who received scholarships to attend universities in Australia. We sat down with her to see what she had to say about her journey to where she is today:
When asked what inspired her to join KCE back in 2009, Sharon explained, “I wanted to join Kakenya’s school because I had a big dream of becoming a surgeon, which I couldn’t have achieved in my previous school.” She explained that the conditions at her old school left much to be desired. “There were few teachers and they were often absent. We would get caned [hit] when we misbehaved despite the fact that we were just young kids. I also had limited access to reading materials. For instance, in a class of almost 60 students, we shared only one textbook.” Sharon’s old school was also very far from home, and the trek to and from school was dangerous for girls. “I wanted to join a boarding school as it was safe and would save me from the long distance I used to walk.”
She continues, “Since I joined KCE, my life changed as I learned that I had rights as a girl and that I can also do what boys can do. Through the help of Dr. Kakenya as our role model and my teachers, I started dreaming big and working hard to prove that we as girls can do even better than boys.”
Today, Sharon’s hard work is paying off. She is in her first year at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and is pursuing a degree in medical science! Transitioning from life in rural Kenya to life in a big city half a world away certainly had its challenges. “Everything was so different when I first arrived in Sydney, ranging from the seasons, the technology, food, and the people. I had a difficult time adapting and I had to learn how to use a bank card and to commute using buses and trains which so different from what I was used to in Kenya, but I am now used to it.”
Thankfully, she felt that KCE helped her anticipate what some of those challenges might be. “KCE was very helpful to me because we had mentors who advised us on what to expect on campus. We also attended many training camps through which we were taught about important things like relationships, how to save money, and how to choose our classes in university.”
Sharon says she has experienced many exciting new things since starting university, including “meeting new friends, my lovely accommodation, and the food. The fact that I don’t have to cook and wash my clothes is very exciting!”
On what this experience means to her, Sharon expressed, “It means a lot being the first girl in my family to study abroad because I got to be the light to my siblings who are now looking up to me as their role model. I am really happy and thankful to get this chance because for a long time, I’d hoped to study abroad and bring a difference in my society. I am so glad that my family is glad and I want to make my mother the happiest!”
After university, Sharon plans to go on to medical school to become a doctor. “I chose this because I grew up in a community that did not have enough medical facilities. In each village, there was only one hospital, and not everyone who needed care was able to get it. My dream is to solve this health challenge in my community and give them a chance to enjoy the best medical attention.”
It simply wouldn’t be possible for Kakenya’s Dream to support girls from primary school through college and beyond without the incredible support of our donors around the world. Our donors are ensuring that girls like Sharon will have the support they need to achieve their dreams, whether by attending medical school in another country, becoming a school teacher here in Enoosaen, or anything in between.
When asked if Sharon had any final thoughts or words of wisdom to share from her journey thus far, with a wide grin, she said “I would love to tell all girls to keep dreaming big and to pursue their dreams. They are our future leaders and unstoppable. They should not be limited by culture to stop dreaming! Anybody can be anything. They just need to have a dream, work smart and focus.”