• Gladys Chepkirui Ngetich

Keep going, keep stretching beyond the comfort zone

Updated: Feb 10

298 out of 500 marks. These were my KCPE marks about 14 years ago when graduating from Lelaibei Primary School in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. I had 45% and 56% in English and Kiswahili respectively. Proceeding to a good high school was nearly impossible with these paltry marks (in stark contrast, the leading KCPE candidate nationally that year had 472 marks!).

Sister Josephine Anyang’o, the headmistress at Mercy Girls' Secondary School, looked beyond what other schools were looking for. Whereas many schools were obsessed with high marks, she often sought to contextualize performance. I remember her taking my mom aside and having a lengthy conversation after my admission test. Mom told me later that the headmistress had informed her that I had not passed the test very well. I was not surprised myself because I had performed relatively dismally in the two languages in KCPE, and the admission test itself tested the languages and Mathematics. Mom further confided in me that nevertheless, the headmistress had chosen to give me admission in her school because she saw a great potential in me.

Long story short, I graduated from Mercy Girls' Secondary school not only top of my class but also as the top student in the whole Kipkelion District. I went on to pursue a Bsc. in Mechanical Engineering at JKUAT. I was determined to graduate with distinction from the first day I stepped foot at JKUAT. 5 years later, I did graduate with distinction.

I had ambitious dreams but getting an admission to University of Oxford and winning the Rhodes Trust Scholarship were not in the list of my dreams. In July 2018, I was named amongst this year’s incredibly amazing Top 10 UK’s Rare Rising Stars. I have not even processed this news yet.

I hope my academic journey resonates with someone. Keep going, give your all (even if your all gives you 298/500 marks!), keep stretching beyond the comfort zone, keep dreaming because no one knows what the future holds. And how I wish more schools would do the unusual and often look beyond the grades in transcripts especially during admission.

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