WISER co-founder addresses “indomitable” students ahead of final exams

Dr. Sherryl Broverman with students Lencer and Purity on campus in 2019.

“You are indomitable girls. Do you know the word indomitable? Impossible to subdue or defeat. You don’t become indomitable in a life without challenges. You become it by rising to meet challenges and conquering them.”

WISER’s campus is quiet this March, but not the lonely, void-of-students-quiet of the beginning of the pandemic, over a year ago. Campus is hushed as WISER’s Form Four (4th year) students take their KCSE exams: national standardized tests in every school subject which determine students’ possibilities for university admittance and scholarships.

A year ago, it was unclear when students would return to campus, what campus life would look like when they did, and whether students would even be able to prepare for and pass their exams. Many schools throughout Western Kenya did not have the financial or staffing resources to continue their students’ education during pandemic lockdowns–a reality that most negatively impacted women and girls.

But WISER’s story was different.

Right away, staff not only began a massive food and resource distribution effort to combat immediate needs, but also began thinking through what it would take to ensure that every student was not only safe, well, and cared for, but also, still able to learn. WISER supporters raised funds for all students to have access to smartphones. Alumni interns and teachers started tutoring via WhatsApp, dropping hard copies of school materials at students’ homes while conducting wellness checks to make sure students had everything they need.

WISER’s story is about quick thinking, using our resources, and prioritizing our students. And it is more than that.

WISER’s story has always been, at its heart, a story about our students fearlessly rising to meet the challenges they face. It’s a story that would not have ended in students taking their final exams on campus right now were it not for students’ indomitable spirits.

WISER students learning in class after campus re-opening.

“I know many of you have to conquer challenges almost every day in various parts of your life. But you do! And when you need a helping hand you have the courage to ask for help. Together, you become indomitable.”

Dr. Sherryl Broverman, WISER’s cofounder, patron of WISER Girls Secondary school, and chair of the WISER International board, typically spends time on campus around exam period. She’s known many current WISER students since they were in primary school, having made connections with many families in Muhuru Bay during her time in the community.

While on campus, she almost always offers a speech to motivate the (nervous and excited) Form Fours ahead of their exams. Since the pandemic has stopped travel to campus, she sent the students a virtual address this year.

“Beyond sadness at missing being there, I mostly feel intense pride. For what you accomplished even when school was closed. For how you kept yourselves safe, knowing there was still a bright future coming. For how you dedicated yourselves to continued learning with your teachers. The word ringing in my head right now is indomitable.”

WISER girls prove time and time again that, when girls have access to what they need, they not only survive–they thrive. They not only make it back to campus even amid a pandemic–they make it back to campus ready to take the most challenging exams they’ve ever taken. And when exam scores are released in a few weeks, they not only aim to have passing scores–they aim to succeed with flying colors, despite every challenge they faced this year.

WISER students learning outside after campus re-opening.

“Yes, strong women you are. Indomitable. Courageous. Hard working. Dedicated. Those are the words that describe a WISER girl and you have created that image. I know you will dedicate yourselves to the upcoming exams and continue carving out new lives for yourselves. You have an entire faculty here ready to help you go as far as you can dream. Remember, work hard and work smart and the sky’s the limit…”

“Show the world what you can do.”

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