In Kenya, intelligence is measured by the grades one scores in the national exams. If you don’t get a good grade especially in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), then you won’t get an opportunity to join campus and your chances to succeed in life will be quite limited.
However this is not the case of one Kenyan who has changed the narrative and proved that failing KCSE isn’t the end of the road.
Here is the story of one Mwangi Mukami – a Kenyan who got D+ in KCSE and ended up attaining 5 degrees in the United States of America.
Mwangi Mukami was born in 1984 and growing up he only knew of poverty. Together with his eight other siblings, he was raised by a single mother in the sprawling slums of Kawangware.
Mwangi knew the only way out of the slums was through education. He began studying hard and involving himself in other activities outside the classroom.
At 17 years old, he became the first male Children’s president of the Kenya Children’s Cabinet. During his tenure, he is credited with pushing the Parliament of Kenya to enact the Children’s Act – a national law protecting Children’s rights.
Failing KCSE and Rising up again
He sat for his KCSE and scored a D+. His peers laughed and mocked him when he told them that he still won’t give up on his dream of becoming an attorney or a policymaker.
He didn’t listen to them but instead decided to prove them wrong by chasing his dreams. He founded the National Youth Parliament of Kenya at 20 years old.
This platform enabled young people to literally sit in the actual parliament to talk about issues affecting them.
Four years later, he founded the Martin Luther King (MLK) Foundation – a non-profit organization that seeks to help and support the marginalized children and youth through a number of educational-based programs.
As the chairman of the MLK Africa Foundation, he steered the organization to operate in 8 cities across Africa with 14 full time and 214 part-time employees within a period of eight years.
Moving to the United States of America
Despite all these successes, Mukami didn’t let the D+ stop him from advancing his studies in order to continue with his advocacy agenda. In 2009, he moved to America where he did bridging courses at first.
He later joined the City College of San Francisco in 2012 and graduated with two Associate of Arts and Sciences (AAS) degrees in Behavioral Sciences in 2014.
A year later, he joined San Francisco State University and graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.
He went on to join the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy where he graduated with a Master of Public Affairs in 2020.
According to his Linkedin profile, Mukami worked as a Supervisor for Episcopal Community Services from September 2011 to July 2015.
He then got an opportunity to work for the City and County of San Francisco as the Chairman for the Shelter Monitoring Committee a position he held for 4 years and 2 months until when he left in December 2018.
He joined Tenderloin Housing Clinic where he worked as a Supportive Housing Manager for 4 years and 2 months. He later quit to pursue his passion and other interests.
Establishing MLIFE Foundation
He then established the Mwangi Mukami Low Income Families Endowment (MLIFE) in January 2018.
MLIFE Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to support underserved children and young people through educational programs, leadership development, peace-building, and intercultural exchange.
The organization has so far been able to reach out to over 300 young scholars in Kenya and America, successfully helping 98 percent of them to apply and receive scholarships.
They have also trained over 100 young leaders aged between 18 to 24 years on policy analysis, messaging for impact, non-violent communication, and leading teams.
The organization also organizes 10-days cultural visits to Kenya for undergraduate and graduate students. The foundation works with Mwangi’s alma mater school, Kawangware Primary School, to bring educational resources to children.
In response to the Covid-19, MLIFE raised and created the LEAP Tech Center to support e-learning at Kawangware and supports 471 students and 26 teachers.