Scholars at the Round Table
The Kenya Scholar-Athlete Project (KenSAP) is a program that chooses a dozen high-achieving and gifted Kenyan high school students from low socio-economic backgrounds and assists them in gaining admission to the most selective and prestigious North American universities. If they are selected to take part in this highly competitive program, they are offered full need-based financial aid. Founded in 2004 by John Manners, KenSAP has helped almost 200 students pursue their studies abroad, opening the door for unique job experiences and advanced degrees. For the past 5 years, CWA has partnered with KenSAP by organizing and sponsoring a round-table discussion to offer support, advice, and community for Kenyan students heading to North America for their studies.
This years event started when Eric Garvin (CWA President) opened the event with the trivia question, “What is the youngest continent?” A female KenSAP student bound for Harvard immediately raised her hand and answered with confidence “Africa”. This was a powerful moment, especially given the significance of young individuals preparing to represent Kenya abroad and learn as much as they can in order to serve their country’s development down the road. In North America, the median age is 35 and rising, while in Africa the median age is 18. There is no doubt that a healthy and educated young work force can drive positive change and innovation across the continent.
Eric then went on to offer gifts to all of the attendees. First, he recognized the dedication and hard work of KenSAP President John Manners and Director Alan Davidson. They were presented with CWA shirts, bracelets and a Nelson Mandela portrait book. Eric then acknowledged the graduating high school students on their achievements so far and presented each student with a t-shirt from their perspective university as well as a bracelet.
CWA staff member Onyema Oyeka moderated the discussion. She was joined by four previous KenSAP participants serving as panel members. Together, they were able to shed light on their own experiences and what the audience, the 18 newest high school graduating KenSAP class, should expect as they look forward to starting their academic journey in the United States.
Following the presentations, all adults, except the panel moderator, were escorted out of the room, creating a conducive environment that allowed the students to ask questions freely. The panel discussion began with the moderator asking the four panelists general questions about their experiences since leaving Kenya. This allowed the audience to introduce their own questions they had. No topic was off limit. The discussion flowed easily into the night ranging from topics from classes, student-professor relationships to racism, sex, and just about everything in between. The incoming freshmen asked very thoughtful and sometimes personal questions to the panelists, who answered honestly, providing insightful advice the students could identify with. The event was engaging, filled with laughter and excitement and turned out a success. Altogether, it was an invaluable learning experience for everyone involved.