Graduate Spotlight: Leah Wanjohi – Journey to culinary prowess


If you have been to Upesi Joint, Afya Corner, the Cafeterias in Kilimanjaro and the Students’ Centre Ground Floor, or any of the SBS cafeterias, then you have  probably interacted with Leah Wanjohi’s culinary prowess and tasted her delectable creations.

From joining the School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) in 2019 to mastering the art of balancing work and study, Leah’s story is a testament of  determination and grit. But what makes her story a little unique? Well, it just so happens that Leah’s father, Mr. Wanjohi, happens to be a staff member at SU, the institution where she pursued her Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management degree.

Leah, a multitasking marvel, takes us on a whirlwind journey through her experience as a student and pastry chef at Strathmore University (SU).

Why did you choose a degree in hospitality? 

Before joining Strathmore University. I studied at Kibondeni College for a Diploma in Catering and Accommodation Management. The desire for hospitality was born there and led me to join the Hospitality programme at Strathmore.

What is it like to study while working at the same time?

Wow, it wasn’t easy. Working in the catering department requires one’s presence at every moment because it is a fast paced and busy department. The shifts start at 6.30 am and end at 3 p.m. This would force me to sometimes wake up at 2.30 am to work on my class work and then prepare for work. After my shift, I would rest for an hour, most of the time doing my assignments, before proceeding to class, which normally began at 5.30 pm and ended at 8.30 pm. I would then get home between 9.30 pm and  10 pm.

How was it for you to study at the same school where your father worked? And how?

It was phenomenal. It definitely made my life at SU easier because my dad is very supportive and is my mentor. It was also a motivating factor to see my father around because that kept reminding me that I needed to work extra hard to make him proud. Anytime I needed to talk to him and could not get him on call, I knew exactly where to find him.

In addition, I’m grateful to my entire family who have been there for me every step of the way.

What role did your father play in your educational experience at SU? Did he provide guidance or support in any particular way? 

He has been so supportive, and I am so proud of him. Through him, I discovered the chance to apply for scholarships to study at Strathmore. Being a full time staff member, I received some benefits from that, two scholarships amounting to 80% of the fees. That meant a lot.

Every time I got home at night, he was there, waiting for me and would ask, “How was your class? Have you learned something new?” This showed how caring he was and the motivation to keep learning.

Which teachers or mentors had the biggest impact on your academic journey? How did they inspire or support you?

The entire administrative and faculty staff at STH was incredibly supportive, and lots of thanks go to Dr. Chiawo, the Dean of STH. I created very good relationships with my lecturers, who became my mentors. They have been available every time I needed them.

What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Juggling between work and study was tough. It was never easy skimming off sleep so as to get assignments done and get to work on time. By the time it’s noon, I would be so tired but I would need to gather up the energy to attend classes in the evening. I remember having to do everything in my power to meet the tight deadlines that were there for submission of assignments. If you delayed an assignment by one minute, you would find the system locked and that would mean a missed assignment.

How would you describe your overall experience during your time at SU?

It was phenomenal. The best support system comes from my workplace, family, and academics.

Did you participate in any extracurricular activities or clubs? How did these experiences enhance your overall college experience?

I was a member of the Hospitality and Tourism Students of Strathmore (HATTS) club. We made quite a number of trips, and this helped me learn more on how hospitality is practised in different hotels. It was also a way to re-energize and take a break from work and classes.

What was your project about? 

I picked a topic after doing my work based learning at a top hotel in Nairobi  and related it to the units we had done in class. I looked at the Impact of Staff Welfare on Staff Turnover in the Hospitality Industry. This was a result of the high turnover rates I experienced in the different hotels that I worked for. The findings reflected the poor working environment, poor remuneration, and poor management that employees in the hospitality industry grapple with.

Anything you would like to tell the Strathmore fraternity?

My appreciation goes to the STH fraternity and the entire University for the great support you offered me throughout my academic journey. For the SU students, Strathmore has the best facilities, do good, be good, and be Strathmore!


This article was written by Teresa Nekesa.



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