3 Masai women graduate CSU with honors

May 22, 2008 4:42:51 PM PDT
Three women from the Masai tribe in Kenya are on a remarkable journey.They graduated with honors from Chicago State University Thursday. All three plan to get their medical degrees and return to Kenya to provide medical care and serve as role models for other women in the Masai community.

The Masai people have a proud tradition and a rich culture. Their rural villages, however, lack medical care. For some, their only medical care is miles away on foot.

Three young Masai women have broken the traditional path of Masai women for the good of all.

The three sped through their studies, without a break, in just three years. And they haven't been home since 2005. They are Masai from central Kenya, where women are rarely offered education. These young women are the first women in their villages to seek college degrees in the U.S. And they want to be doctors.

"I feel like I'm doing this for a whole community of other women who never get a chance to do this. And it means and it will mean more to them than it will mean to me," said Everlyne Nkadori, Chicago State University Graduate.

"When I get my medical degree, I'll definitely go back to my community. That's the whole drive. That's the whole thing that's driving me into the medical career," said Agnes Kisai, Chicago State University Graduate.

Typical 22-year-old Masai women would have been married as teenagers and would have several children while working on a family farm by now. These women were already standouts to have gone to high school.

Sitatian Kaelo knew she wanted to be a doctor when she was 10, when she walked 19 kilometers with her sick younger sisters to the nearest hospital.

"When we grew up, knowing what a hospital can do and what a doctor can do for someone's life. And that's probably I can make a new life for the women," Kaelo said.

She won Chicago State's highest honor, The President's Cup. At graduation, she spoke of their sacrifice and the significance of their successes.

"Today, I stand here proud and tall, representing a community, representing change and a new legacy of the Masai community," Kaelo said.

Among the 1,200 graduates, these women have big plans for themselves and their communities. They want to see their families and friends. More than that they want to insure a healthier future for the Masai people.

Kisai is applying to medical school.

Nkadori is also applying to medical school and will do a yearlong research project at the University of Chicago.

Kaelo has been accepted to Rush University Medical School and begins in the fall

The graduates spoke with their families Thursday by phone. None of their relatives could make it. But some local Masai came to support the women at graduation and are considered family by the women.

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