Graduand Spotlight: Rhoda Kirui Building Futures through Mentorship
Rhoda Kirui a Bachelor in Commerce student and a member of the Community Service Centre (CSC) is grateful for her time at Strathmore University, a journey that cultivated her strong passion for helping the needy and inspiring her society. Coming from a humble background, Rhoda understands just too well what it feels like to lack, as well as to receive from well-wishers. Starting a mentoring program in her hometown is just one of the ways she desires to impact the society, especially young girls who see getting married as a better option to studying.
Q: What is your family background?
A: I come from a small town in Transmara district, Kilgoris County and my family is quite big. I am the fifth born out of seven children. My parents are very supportive and loving despite financial challenges that we encounter.
Q: How did you join Strathmore?
A: I learnt about Strathmore University from Lilian Munene, who is a member of staff at the school. She knew and interacted a lot with Hooper Trust, a charity organization that sponsored needy girls from my county who did exceptionally well in school. The organization would sponsor children from as early as the primary level to highschool, and if they performed well in their national examinations, they would further support them through university. I was among the students who performed well in the examination in my year, I got a B-, and as a result Hooper Trust chose to sponsor half of my tuition; Strathmore University offered to sponsor the remaining half. I went to Olgos Primary School in Kilgoris and Chebunyo high school in Bomet for my secondary education.
Q: How has your journey at Strathmore been like?
A: Studying at Strathmore has been a great blessing, not only with my academics, but also mentally, and spiritually. We learn about ethics, we are encouraged to participate in contributing to the society, and we have mentors who guide us all through university. This I believe, has shaped me into the lady I am today.
I have had great experiences with people who are always willing to help, for example, my project supervisor Ms. Mary Omingo who was never tired of helping me even if she had to explain the same thing a million times. She would willingly go the extra mile.
I also picked up mentoring that am currently doing at my home town. I learnt a lot from my mentor, and I desire to offer the same to children back home.
Q: You were a member of CSC, how did that influence you?
A: I learnt about CSC in my second year of university, in 2012, when their representative came to our class to speak about the centre and what they do. I decided to join them because I believed it was going to be my way of giving back to the society. Looking at my upbringing I understood full well how it felt to lack something, so I wanted to be the change I saw in my own life.
One of the activities that will remain memorable to me will be the visit we took to Kenyatta National Hospital. I met a seven year old girl from Turkana who was suffering from cancer. She had been in hospital for two years and had not seen her parents for a long time. She was feeling hopeless and just needed some sort of encouragement. I spoke to her and tried to cheer her on and by the end of that day, we left her smiling and optimistic.
I also draw inspiration from the time we visited Mother Teresa in Langata, a home for disabled destitute children. Seeing these women who were from age 12 onwards, made me realize that my life was blessed, regardless of the hardships I may have endured. This visit gave me a reason to stand tall and always look at the bright side in life, to appreciate what I have and be content with where I am.
Q: Did you have any challenges especially on studying away from home?
A: Strathmore was the reason I came to Nairobi, I had not been here before. The culture shock was immense but I had to pull through. I almost wanted to go back home in my first semester, but I was encouraged to stay on and it was obviously a great choice. I came in when the semester had already began and it was a challenge to catch up as well, but with time I adjusted.
Of course many times we had a lot of assignments to work on, but you adjust eventually. At least when I get a job I will not find too much work as a challenge.
Q: What plans do you have for your next 5-10 years?
A: Right now I am mentoring some students from my village. I am doing this with my colleagues who had been sponsored by Hooper Trust as well. The students I mentor are in both primary and secondary schools. The key is to try and encourage those who feel like giving up, maybe because of fee issues or they cannot understand their academic work, to know that they have an equal chance of making it just like any other person.
The girls tend to choose to get married early when things become difficult. To such, it is important to advise them the importance of having an education and to remind them that marriage can wait. Most girls opt to get married just after they finish standard eight, and the lives they end up living are desperate and wanting. Most of them have nothing to offer their children and probably have to rely on their husbands for the basics. My desire is to show them that they have a chance to make it through education just like I did.
Aside from mentoring I hope to start my finance career here in Nairobi, and use my salary to help my siblings finish their education journey as well. I am the first person in my family to come this far with education.
Q: Who is your role model/ who inspires you to work hard?
A: I draw my inspiration from a lady known as Mrs. Regina Kosgei, one of the facilitators at Hooper trust. During school holidays, we had seminars organized by the organization where facilitators would come and speak to us, mentor us and encourage us. The way Mrs. Kosgei expressed herself during such talks was remarkable; she would advise us to be visionary women.
My other role model is my aunt whom I lived with while studying. The way she balances her life, family and work is inspiring. She doesnt see limitations in life, she always finds a way of building success out of what she has been entrusted with.
We wish Rhoda the best in her future endeavors.