I was also inspired by my mother, who was taken out of school after second grade, only to enrol in adult education decades later to learn how to read, write, and sign her own name.
Graduating with a BSc in Agriculture and Human Ecology Extension from Egerton University in 2004, I thought I would advance in my work as a scientist at the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). Although my employer recognized my hard work and outputs in terms of publications and results, promotions are pegged to education. To advance you must align yourself with the system.
In 2010, I won an AWARD Fellowship on my third try. As part of AWARD’s training, I drew a road map for my career development and realized that I had no choice but to attain an MSc. AWARD also helped me to identify my strengths and sharpen my leadership and negotiation skills, while increasing my visibility. I began applying for a master’s degree both locally and abroad, but all admissions required full fees, which was impossible for me with children in college. I needed a full scholarship.
Today, as a senior researcher in KARI’s Social Economics and Applied Statistics Department, I work with women farmers, many of whom are living with HIV/AIDS. They face tremendous stigma, and I want to conduct research that will help improve their lives. I learned that Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands offers a Master of Management with a focus on Rural Development and HIV/AIDS. I applied and won a full scholarship, much to my delight. I leave in September 2013, for one year. I hope that this training will help me to contribute to the mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS within KARI’s research program, and especially to the well-being of Kenyans.
So many opportunities are coming my way. Recently, AWARD sponsored me to attend the First International Horticulture, Economics, Marketing and Consumer Studies Symposium in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. I was the only African there.
In conversations with my AWARD Mentor and other AWARD Fellows who have advanced in their careers, I would ask myself, “Why can’t I?” But now I say, “Yes, I can!” For this late bloomer, it’s never too late to succeed.
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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