|By Annete Karanja|
Lydia Ekai acquired a pass to a Strathmore education through a KIVA scholarship. In 2017, she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree – Finance option. Years later, she is now pursuing a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Enterprise at the University of Westminster in London.
After graduation, she and two other Strathmore alumnae, Hellen Ateyo and Rebecca Eyanae, began the Strathmore Turkana Education Programme (STEP) in Turkana County. The trio, during their stay at the University, acquired the value of service to society by being actively involved in community outreach programmes organized through the Community Service Centre department. So, together with Strathmore staff, they set out to share their experiences and stories to inspire and motivate others through a similar programme of community service in their home county.
“In times of difficulty, I have learnt to believe in myself and accepted the process. Have you read the book ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers? Well, that in a nutshell sums up my life’s journey this far. I have had moments of doubt and others of fulfillment. At some point, while I was a student here, I thought I would never graduate. However, I chose to soldier on and embrace life as it unfolds.”
In this article, Lydia shares her Strathmore experience, one filled with both joy and struggles.
You read a lot; what pages are you currently turning?
For now, ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Prof. Steve Peters – is my fountain of emotional intelligence. It ignites my zeal to see beyond the surface. Don’t allow your emotions to dictate your life, rather learn how to deal with them as you learn how to become healthier in mind, body, and soul.
When you look back, what are some of the fun times you remember fondly?
Playing football for the University team. I was the goalkeeper. The practice sessions were great yet intense. The game was a great way for me to break the monotony of classwork as it gave me something to look forward to.
I experienced other memorable moments by virtue of being a Macheo volunteer where I tutored high school students and assisted them with revision. It was the best thing for me as every time we met the students, it reminded me of my days at Turkana High school. This experience led us to create the mentoring programme back at home.
Was there a time you felt like dropping out?
Yes, when I became pregnant. I thought this would cut me off from the scholarship and become the end of my education. It was an intensely stressful period. The nights were long and the days exhausting. How was I going to manage being a student and a young mother? I did not know what to do so I prayed to God to help me because I owed it to myself to graduate no matter how long it took. Strathmore gave me a chance to take a year off so I could be with my baby while I sought the way forward. It was such a relief. This comma of my life was a moment of reflection. I am glad I did not quit but chose to take it a day at a time. In the end, I completed my degree in five years.
From my Strathmore experience, I would like to encourage Stratizens to seek genuine relations. In life you need others and they need you too. Strathmore changed my life and I remain grateful. The human connection I received here played a pivotal role, be it through my mentor, Christina Garashie or the registrar, Stephen Ng’ang’a. When I felt challenged, I knew help was available but I had to seek and find it. Don’t know how to get started? Visit the mentoring office, the smiles of Celestine and Ruby will have you feeling right at home.