John Kevin Owuor was not deterred by his background while he was thinking of joining Strathmore University. He did not have school fees, accommodation or upkeep money to work with, but he had a desire, a smart mind and hope. With support from his family and spiritual leaders, he was driven to start on a blind journey that has proven to be one of the best choices he ever made.
What is your background?
I am the first born in a family of two boys. I lost my parents at a tender age and therefore lived with my younger brother, on our own, for 3 years until I finished my KCPE at Homa Bay County. Our supporters then were our teachers, neighbors, well-wishers, and one of my aunty. I went through the hands of at least 7 families and 2 missionaries, each taking turns to shape my life and that of my brother.
I joined Form 1 with the help of my uncle and well-wishers, and completed my KCSE national examination in 2010. Being a social person, I had made friends with some influential people while in Form 1, Mr. Rariwi, the late Eng. Maurice Otieno and family, the late Fr. Kevin Shalom and the late Rev Bishop Colin Cameron Davies, who helped see me through secondary school. Their support also took me through five trying and demanding medical surgeries. The transition from primary to high school, and high school to campus, made me believe that when you have God and good people around you, anything is achievable.
How did you know about and join Strathmore?
After my high school results were released I was called to join a public university to pursue Artificial Intelligence Engineering. But the late Bishop Davis encouraged me to apply to Strathmore instead. One day, he accompanied me to visit the University; we took tea at the cafeteria and during that period I observed how staff and students carried themselves and concluded that I had to join the institution. I applied to Strathmore, passed my interview tests and joined school in 2013 to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree.
I was supposed to join Strathmore in 2012, but I had to defer for a whole academic year for lack of accommodation. In 2013, I almost had a repeat but I met someone who took me in as one of her own siblings and I lived with her and her family throughout the four years. Staying with this family made my stay in the city bearable. I am indebted to her.
How was your Strathmore Experience?
My journey at the University has been the best for my moral and spiritual development. I specifically appreciate the mentorship I was offered that nurtured my growth.
Being in Strathmore for four years made me understand why industry prefers our graduates. People talk about the need for integrity, morality and professionalism at the work place; at Strathmore it is a culture. No one forces you to do the right thing, but you will feel guilty and out of place for doing the wrong thing.
I also had a chance to work for the organisation in different departments; as a library attendant, administrative assistant and an accounts assistant, through the work-study programme.The experience was enriching.
When did you join Macheo and why?
I joined Macheo in 2015. At the time, I heard that they were mentoring students from the slums. Given my background and how I got to Strathmore, I understood the need to give my time to such a programme. I wanted to be part of a team that would help give the less fortunate more meaning to life.
I taught the Form Twos of the programme Mathematics, and later switched to Physics which I have been in charge since 2017.
Through Macheo, I have attended numerous training sessions and seminars which are very significant for someone seeking a wholesome transformation for themselves and those around them.
What are your future plans after Strathmore?
I have heard many motivational speeches where people say that the contribution by a single person, got them to a place of success. Such a statement would be hard for me to make because when I look at my life, the list of those who contributed towards my growth is long. My late parents, my teachers, lecturers, mentor and religious leaders all played a part in my journey. With this, I have come to realize that small efforts by many people contribute to making someone great. I therefore intend to take up the role of influencing other lives for greatness.
For this reason, I have joined the Community Service Centre (CSC) where I am involved with similar-minded groups like AYNET and KECTIL to make the world a better place.
I hope to start a charity organization in future that will help impact lives through education and professional growth. My responsibility is to make the world better than I found it.
Strathmore gave me hope, a hope that has kept me going and given my life more meaning. Above all, I am equipped with capacity for global service.