Bright, Ambitious, and Headed to High School March 12, 2015 by Carolina For Kibera
By: Scott Weathers, CFK Volunteer
Last month, 25 Kibera students were awarded high school scholarships after an intense application process. With 110 students applying this year, CFK’s scholarship process was almost as competitive as undergraduate admissions at UNC-Chapel Hill, where CFK’s U.S. office is located (based on acceptance percentage CFK 22%; UNC 29%).
When considering who should be awarded a scholarship, CFK carefully weighs financial need with high academic and personal standards. In their applications, students shared personal essays, test scores, and grades, which were evaluated by multiple CFK staff members. From there, 40 students underwent panel interviews led by 4 of CFK’s staff designed to assess English language skills, interpersonal skills, and future aspirations.
And the results show! The recipients are bright students at the top of their class who share a desire to improve their community and aspire to become everything from future doctors to engineers. Not only are these some of the best students in Kibera, but they are also diverse. Despite receiving far more applicants from boys than girls, CFK’s Education Program selected 13 girls and 12 boys, based on the quality of their interviews, and the fact that providing education for girls benefits the entire community in major ways (Press Release, World Bank). The chosen students also come from various neighborhoods across Kibera, representing many different ethnic groups and both Christianity and Islam.
During the interviews, students often commented on how they would improve their community and create change for themselves and their neighbors. One particularly inspirational young woman, Rebecca, elaborated on her dream of founding a reproductive health clinic for girls. Several other girls plan to become journalists, holding up Kenyan news anchor, Julie Gichuru, as their role model.
Interviewers also commented on the sense of personal integrity of the candidates, regardless of their outcome in the process. One memorable interview came from a student who was not awarded a scholarship. After asking the student why he thought he deserved a scholarship, he simply responded, “I don’t.” Seeing the need for scholarships among students in the waiting room, he argued that others deserved the money more than he did.
Reflecting on the impressive stories and personal goals shared during the application process, it’s easy to reaffirm a core belief of CFK—talent is universal, opportunity is not. Over the next 4 years, 25 adolescents will grow, learn, change themselves, and change their communities, as all students should.