Student, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America. Champion of Equal access of education, and a college student leader
The curtains are soon falling for the 2021st year of the Gregorian calendar, and the best way possible to get down the year is to interview one of the most inspiring people I know. Look, I am rarely inspired by people my age but she is an exception. Why do I say so? Her story is not only exhilarating but also very stirring. As you get into the new year and plan your goals, reading this will be extremely important because of the wealth of knowledge and wisdom being disseminated by this lass. I declare her wise
Call her Lucia Muthoni Mwanzia. It is on a ghostly Friday evening and I decide to hop on a video conference with Lucia due to difference in location. She is in Memphis, Tennessee in the US while I am here in Kenya. She tells me it is a cold morning in her location, and I can confirm as she shivers attempting to wear black gloves. There are a few droplets as I can confirm through her window. I can vividly see her college room and damn, that room is elegant. It is very spacious and well lit. Lucia being the neat girl she is, her room is well arranged with several novels on the table and an apple fruit. In the background, Yemi Alade’s Mama Africa hitsong featuring Sauti Sol is playing in low volume, probably to make her feel the Africa vibe. Looking at her, I could not ignore her ever smiling face shouting that she will forever be young, of course with her dimples. Her Jade and Coral necklace are hanging around her athletic neck. She is donning an Ankara dress, a clear indication of her strong African heritage. She moves with speed to remind me about our last physical meeting, which was a tour of Nairobi city, walking from street to street, avenue to another and restaurant to another on one hot Saturday of January 2021 just before she flew to the US. It is such moments that we live to cherish forever. And after catching up about her plans for Christmas and her wishes to Santa, we get straight to this candid interview. You will love it because Lucia has a story worth being told.
GIVE US YOUR BRIEF INTRODUCTION
My name is Lucia Muthoni Mwanzia, I was born and grew up in Kitui County in Kenya where I started my primary school education. I am a second born in a family of four. I lost my dad in 2014 and at the moment, I only have my mom. I attended my secondary school education at Misyani Girls High School in Machakos County. I topped my sub county (district) in the secondary school examinations, earning me an internship opportunity at Equity Bank and getting selected to become a member of the revered Equity Leaders Program. It is interesting to note that four years earlier, I had unsuccessfully applied to the Equity Bank’s Wings to Fly Program (a scholarship program for secondary education in Kenya by Equity Bank). I worked at the bank for months before successfully applying to KenSAP, a college access program that connects gifted and promising Kenyan students to universities abroad. At KenSAP, I was trained on the application process and the SATs. With this training, I applied and got admitted to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee in the United States of America.
It would be important to mention that my life has been nothing but an awesome wonder. After my dad passed, I was left with no one to cater for my education. At that time, I was just joining secondary school and I thought that my thirst for education would end prematurely. It is at this moment that Kenya Education Fund come through and sponsored my entire secondary school education. After finishing my secondary school and topping my sub county, the education board in Kenya placed me at Kenyatta University to pursue Pharmacy. As I was waiting to join Kenyatta University, KenSAP approached me and asked me to apply to their program. I did apply, and I was among the very few who were selected, and as you know, KenSAP is extremely selective and competitive. As I mentioned, it was from KenSAP that I realized about Rhodes College. I successfully applied getting not only the admission but a full scholarship for the period of my Undergrad studies.I was among the very first Kenyans to get admission to foreign universities in that applications cycle. Rhodes is also an extremely selective school and is even more selective when you apply for fin aid (scholarship). Therefore, my life has been even a mystery to me. Things happened in a way that I never expected. At Rhodes, I am working extremely hard to make myself proud and to show other girls who are over shadowed by many challenges just like I was, and think that their journey has come to an end that through hard work, opportunities will just locate you. HARD WORK PAYS!
I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A LOT OF LEADERSHIP DUTIES IN SCHOOL. WHAT DO YOU DO AT THE MOMENT AS FAR AS LEADERSHIP IS CONCERNED?
Yes, I am extremely passionate about effective and transformational leadership. At the moment, I am a Resident Assistant in campus, I am also a representative of The African Students Association, representing the minority students in campus. We talk about issues such as gender equality and racism. I also attend the campus fellowship, where I sing. I have joined a community church here in Memphis where I lead the praise and worship. I also volunteer at a refugee camp which has a high population of Africans. Some actually speak Swahili, and wow, what more could I ask for than fellow Swahili speakers in this far lands. I am looking for more impactful volunteer opportunities around Rhodes College and beyond.
HOW IS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE UNITED STATES?
I came to the US on January 20, this year. I am planning to major on Business and Economics here at Rhodes College. My first few months were quite challenging because I was just trying to know about this place, and find new friends. I have since made massive friendships, I am loving my classes and the more people I meet. To say the least, I am enjoying my stay at Memphis, getting my confidence back and being able to do all the things I am passionate about. I am also travelling into other cities here in America, and just enjoying the other side.
Memphis is a town with rich history and heritage to learn and explore, and I am extremely privileged to be here. I have immersed myself in learning this history. You know that Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated here. There is also huge musical heritage with some genres like blues with originated here in the south. The very first recording studios in America were here.
YOU ARE AMONG THE VERY FEW YOUNG KENYANS WHO HAVE BEEN PRIVILEGED ENOUGH TO GET A WORLD CLASS UNIVERSITY EDUCATION. HOW DO YOU PLAN TO GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY ONCE DONE WITH YOUR DEGREE?
I want to become a champion for quality education for all. I believe that through education, we can realize our full potential. Back home in Kenya where I come from, many young people want great lifestyle but are not willing to put the work. Therefore, once I am done with my education, I will be back and champion for equal access of education so that as a society we can beat poverty and ignorance. Through education, we can all be the change that we want. I also want to mentor the young people into unlocking their abilities and grabbing all their potential not only in academia but also in other areas of personal fulfilments.
I KNOW YOU TO BE VERY HARD WORKING AND IT HAS WORKED FOR YOU AMAZINGLY. A LOT OF YOUNG PEOPLE ESPECIALLY HERE IN KENYA TRASH HARD WORK. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY?
The only way that you can achieve whatever you want is through hard work honestly. You have to be on top of your game to be the best. Doing extra and going past the comfort zone. Of course nothing good comes easy. If you want something, there is no secret but hard work. And again, when you work hard, you can easily defend your products with confidence. It is also very inspiring. Apart from the grades in academic excellence, there is also experience and exposure. Therefore, if you want anything good in life, you have to work hard for them. However, if you skip the bit of hard work, you are likely to not feel the worth of whatever you are enjoying. I hope it makes sense!
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
I want to be the best version of myself. I always want to scale to the highest levels I can. I do not want to settle for less but be the best I can. I want to be of much impact as possible and also make my mum proud (laughs).
WHAT CAN YOU TELL TO YOUR FELLOW YOUNG PEOPLE
Do not be afraid to show your weaknesses, because through it, you get to learn. There is a quote that goes, “everything you need is on the other side of fear. So I advise the young people not to be afraid to show the weak part of them. Apply for that internship, apply for that job, write that paper. Above whole, tower in confidence and believe in yourself. Do not fear. Pleeease. Do not compare yourself with others, whatever you do, do it well. Be confident!
Losing myself. I believe every human being is unique and has special goals and purposes to achieve. I am always scared not to be myself, because once I lose who I am, then all my goals and focus are lost as well. I try not to lose my morals, goals and beliefs. In the recent times, people are trying to copy others and living like them, and in doing so, they forget their infinite goals and purposes in life. So without any doubt, I am fearing losing myself even for a second.
I love rice, especially fried or white rice with beef stew.
Switzerland and Mauritius. I love nature and these countries are the richest in that.
I do not have one. I do not crush on people. I tend to love the works of people but not get attracted to the doers. For example, I can love a music, but not the artist. So I appreciate their art, and I think that is enough.
WHAT IS THE STATUS OF YOUR ROMANTIC LIFE? IS THERE A ‘PRAYER PARTNER’ (PUN INTENDED) ?
I am single.
Michelle Obama. I love her for her elegance, leadership and composure. She is carrying out different impactful duties. I really admire her leadership skills and her fluency.
Own your own happiness. Surround yourself with the right people, build networks, have a relationship with God. Do the things that make you happy, and also hat make other people happy. Life is not a competition. Be the best version of yourself. And Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2022!
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