On Friday May 5th, 2017, Daraja held it’s 5th graduation ceremony. The girls have worked tirelessly over the past four years to complete their coursework and exams, as well as our unique Transition Program – which includes an internship in each girl’s chosen career path. As the graduates readied themselves for pictures, they hugged each other as they laughed and cried.
Teachers, staff, local community members, alumni, current students, and partners from the graduates’ internships all attended the event. The ceremony opened with brief remarks from teachers, opening prayer, and the singing of the Daraja anthem. Caroline Mwangai presented on the purpose of Daraja’s Transition Program, which she coordinates, and invited internship partners to present certifications of completion to the graduates they had worked with.
Purity Njeri and Mercy Wambui gave speeches after being elected this year’s honorable students.
In her speech, Purity stressed the importance of hard work and how everything you do matters in this life:
“In this life, we have ups and downs. In this life, we want to be a a great person. In this life, maybe we want to be President of Kenya or maybe something else great. Do you think it comes easy? Do you think it comes easy? No, it doesn’t. You must work hard, muster courage, you must stand in front of people because this is the moment I was allowed to be astonishing. When is your moment? When do you think your moment will be? See this is my moment. So, tell me, when is your moment? This is your moment. You haven’t finished what you have started or have you finished? This is not the end, we have somewhere far to go.”
Mercy’s speech focused on how Daraja has changed her:
“Yesterday, we were being shown our pictures from Form 1 and we just couldn’t believe it. Everybody has changed. We kept saying, that’s not me. That’s because Daraja has changed us. Daraja has brought us to who we are now. I would like to tell you this journey would not have been successful without everyone here”
Following the graduate speeches, teacher of the year Njoroge Wainaina challenged the girls to ask themselves, “what am I becoming today?”
Victoria, Principal of Daraja Academy, discussed how to raise a Daraja girl: “It takes the whole village to raise a girl, and indeed we’ve done it. It’s not a teacher’s doing, it’s not my doing, it’s not the founders doing. It’s us together. When we say Daraja is a bridge, take your part, own Daraja, really strengthen that bridge. When we do that, it becomes a village and a girl is raised.”
The last portion of the graduation program included speeches from Mr. Kipaloi, the District Education Officer, Joan Mworia, founder of several hotels in Nanyuki, and the featured speaker, Nyaga, the General Manager at UNAITAS, a prominent insurance company in Kenya.
Mr. Kipaloi stressed the importance of Daraja’s work: “Every time I come here, I feel very special. Every year this has happened, we turn out very empowered girls who contribute to the future of our country. Daraja has become a good mediator between the girl’s dreams and the world out there. Daraja has led the way, ensuring Daraja girls are prepared to contribute their part in the development of our country and the world.”
Joan discussed taking advantages of opportunities, specifically how she found herself engaging in hospitality and creating successful hotel businesses.
Nayaga emphasized that Daraja girls shouldn’t just accept the norm. He told a story about a mother who cut the head and the tail off of a fish. One day the woman’s daughter asked her why she cut the head and tail off. The mother patiently replied, “that is the way I have always done it.” Unconvinced and disappointed with her mother’s answer, she went to her grandmother and asked why she cut the head and the tail off. The grandmother patiently replied, “this way, the fish will fit into my pan.”
At the end of the ceremony, diplomas were handed out by the speakers and finally the girls were ready for the tassel turn, led by Charles Mbuto – affectionately known on campus as “Mr. C.”
The girls threw their caps into the air and embraced each other as all 118 Daraja students, families, and guests raced towards them screaming and crying.