A group of young women stands in front of the bright blue front gate at WISER. They are dressed in a variety of styles – business wear, handmade dresses, clothing in dozens of different colors, each more vibrant than the next. They have come to campus from all across Kenya; from Eldoret, Nakuru, Nairobi, and farther. They are young experts in a range of fields and the group could answer questions about everything from mechanical engineering to early childhood education. And while each woman in the group has plenty that sets her apart, they all have something vital in common: they were all WISER girls.
Only a few short weeks ago, we invited all five classes of WISER alumni, stretching from 2013 to 2017, to join us back on-campus for the first-ever Alumni Day.
This event, held in the same year as the celebration for our historic fifth graduating class, brought over 75 of the WISER alumni back to campus for a celebration that also offered vital resources and useful experiences. Returning alumni had the chance to reconnect with their old mentors, seek advice from WISER administrators and teachers on everything from career placements to study tips, and, perhaps most importantly, alumni had the opportunity to visit with their former classmates and close friends.
But the Alumni Day also offered WISER graduates the chance to not only to receive mentorship, but give it as well. Alumni returned to their former Houses of Wisdom (the peer-led psychosocial support groups that meet weekly on WISER’s campus) to offer advice and guidance to current WISER girls, who listened on the edge of their seats. As the advice started flowing, the alumni opened up about their personal experiences with WISER.
“The reason WISER was built was because of each and every one of us,” offered one alumni. “We are women with a vision.” Others echoed the inspirational sentiments, with some alumni reflecting on how far they had come – from Muhuru Bay primary schools to WISER to now, a soon-to-be college graduate. “I did not think I would be standing here.”
The returning alumni demonstrated incredible leadership and passion for lifting up the future generations of WISER girls during this event. Their enthusiasm and commitment to improving the lives of girls in Muhuru Bay through any means possible inspires us to continue growing WISER’s impact each and every year.
Additionally, the WISER team was honored to welcome Ms. Betty Adera of the Betty Adera Foundation, which works with partners across Kenya to inspire youth, prevent gender-based violence, and affect public policy. Ms. Adera grew up in Migori, only a few dozen kilometers from WISER’s campus, and was able to share her story and advice with the current WISER girls and their predecessors. Ms. Adera generously concluded her visit with a gift of agriculture, business, and history textbooks to support the quality education of our current students.
As fall approaches, these alumni will scatter across Kenya as many travel to their college and university campuses. Some will be walking onto a college campus for the first time. Some will be returning for the final term of their degree. All will be watched closely by the current students at WISER, hoping to one day be in those same shoes.
But no matter what, these alumni go forward with the knowledge that they have done something incredible – they have studied, listened, worked, mentored, learned, grown, and inspired. They have embodied what it means to be a WISER girl.