The transition from MPESA Foundation Academy to Lawrence Academy was something that I had anticipated, which created an easy changeover despite the few challenges that come with any change of environment, expectations, goals, and way of life. The first few days were no easy task. Most of the time I found myself confused, if not surprised. Losing track of thought in conversations was the biggest challenge, having to repeat myself for anyone to understand me. However, I was up to the task, I did not refrain from talking in public. Over time I was able to proficiently learn the language from a cultural context.
It was surprising how polite and welcoming Lawrence Academy community was. Everyone acknowledged my difference, embraced diversity, and patiently helped me understand some of the shades of things that never occurred to me. I was surprised at how much the members of faculty and students could shower on a “foreigner.”
The most captivating thing, one that helped me set my goals as I continued to pursue my dream of studying here was the school motto which states “Omnibus Lucet,” Latin phrase translating to “Let light shine upon all” and the mission which states, “Lawrence Academy recognizes you for who you are and inspires you to take responsibility for who you want to become.” These, combined with the values that MFA had instilled in, became my guiding principles. I started my academic year with a cross country pre-season. It took three days before the news of how fast I could cruise through the course hit the whole school. A new sport, one that I doubted while committing to, eventually became a platform through which I was able to make friends, both in and outside the school. It became a key piece in my college search process, with different college coaches reaching out to me hankering that I join their colleges.
The paramount goal for coming to the USA to learn in a different education system. The school champions excellence in academics and the arts, offering innovative programs that personalize learning and provide students with discerning advisors who support self-discovery and risk-taking. I was offered a wider variety of courses to choose from, which helped expand my horizons while at the same time focusing on what I wanted to do at college level. Coming to my senior year, I was able to choose even more specific and career related courses such as Anatomy and Physiology, Physics and Calculus, while also pursuing my interest in Computer Science.
The biggest difference between learning here and in Kenya was the learning process. With time I started to transition from studying for exams to analysis and thinking skills. Learning became more personalized and started to gain a different view. Without any summative test awaiting me, I was able to focus on real life application of whatever I learned in class. This was more discernible in one of the optimization projects I did in my calculus class, applying class knowledge and analysis to so maximize profit in large scale industries. Learning through independent research in history and sciences has been a key tool in developing my research and analysis skills. I wrote a history research paper in my junior year, talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis, one which made me realize that the cliched phrase “history repeats itself” stands with a more profound meaning. I learned that we could apply some of the things that were used then in solving some of the biggest problems we face in our modern world. The school has offered a platform for me to be able to reflect upon, understand, and learn from failure as well as success.
The school also offers opportunities through which learning becomes more of an experience than it is a process by offering a wide range of opportunities for students to develop skills necessary for the knowledge driven world. This comes through student-led activities, clubs, etc. The most important is the Winterim program, one that due to COVID I was not able to participate in but would love to take it back to Kenya and Mpesa with me. Lawrence Academy embraces the idea of experiential education through a two-week program which breaks students out of their normal routines and encourages them to open their minds, bodies, and hearts to new experiences. This is a unique experience with over 44 options around cultural immersion, academic field study, service-learning, crafts, and skills/ outdoor adventure.
Plurality of perspectives has been a vital instrument in my changing view of the world, through being patiently curious. I have learned how to engage in respectful dialogues and advance my independent thinking. Through different voices, views, and cultures, I have developed a more informed mindset, which helps in facing day to day challenges, and producing innovative ways of solving such challenges for the common good. It is an opportunity that over time has helped me think more openly and creatively, academics, athletics, and residential life. Such creativity and confidence helped me engage with the community as a student leader, fulfilling and living the dream of being a transformational leader. By being able to stand by voice and speak out my ideas, I have found myself being called out to take up leadership roles in different arenas in the community. By learning from international perspectives and instructions, the school calls on oneself to cultivate a personal stake in lifelong learning and make honorable, informed choices, something that I always wish I would help students at Mpesa embrace, while developing as leaders.
A goal that every international student studying in the United States has is international exposure. I have been able to travel to fascinating parts of the United States, from cities such as Boston and New York, to parks such as Niagara Fall, Minute Man National Historical Park, and of course being the first one on Mt. Monadnock in 2019 Mountains Day, the second most climbed mountain in the World. In addition to all these being a fulfilling experience, it has been a learning experience. I have learnt innovative approaches to handle different situations and my acumen in life. By seeing being able to see and live the life that Kenya aspires to, I am in a more advantageous position to champion for such improvements, whether in terms of infrastructure, technology, education, and life at large. This is a rich experience, learned through different lenses, that has increased my creativity and knowledge of the rapidly changing world.
Studying at Lawrence Academy and the United States prepares me for life after school. Through the college counseling office, with help from Alan Davidson and other friends, I was able to secure a seat in Tufts University class of 2025, where I hope to pursue my interest in medicine.
It has been a learning journey and I am forever grateful for MPESA Foundation Academy having this program. There is a lot I would write about my life changing experience, but I hope that I will be able to inspire someone. This is an opportunity that has exposed me to an international way of learning, developed courage, nourished my understanding and view of the world, developed flexibility of thought, analysis and thinking skills, and grown as a person. I hope that I will be able to bring back with me some of the experiences and lessons back to MPESA and Kenya at large.
But I’d say for this term the biggest achievements have been breaking our school’s 3,000m record (track and field) As well as 1500m record which was set in 2012.
As far as Academics are concerned, I was inducted into Cum Laude Society about three weeks ago. Cum Laude Society is dedicated to honouring scholastic achievement in secondary schools. The founders of the society modeled Cum Laude after Phi Beta Kappa and in the years since its founding, Cum Laude has grown to 382 chapters, approximately two dozen of which are located in public schools and the rest in Independent schools. Membership is predominantly in the United States, but chapters also are located in Canada, England, France, Spain, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.