About Me - Thuita J. Maina
About two hundred metres from Starehe Boys' Centre in Nairobi is Pumwani Maternity where on the last day of 1987, a handsome, bouncing baby boy was born: me! After birth, my mother headed back to her home in Kiserian, Rift Valley, Kenya. My father had acquired a piece of land there a year earlier (1986) and built a house on it. And that has been my home all my life.
I have very little recollection of the first three years of my life, as it is with every person. The little I remember in those first three years of my life is my mother carrying me on her back as she took her friends for a walk around our farm.
My awakening to life began in late 1992 when I vaguely recall feasting on a meal in my home's small, sooty kitchen while hearing political campaign messages from afar. Back then, my home had no electricity, radio or television. Life must have been tough for my family as we had no access to piped water either. We depended on fetched water from a nearby stream.
On January 1993, I joined Noru-Moru Primary School, a two kilometre walk from home. I remained in the school for seven years until the third term of Standard Seven in 2000 after which I was transferred to a private primary school of affluent families, Kunoni Educational Centre, where I finished my primary school education.
So well did I perform in 2001 KCPE exams that I was admitted at the prestigious Starehe Boys' Centre in Nairobi for my high school education. If you remember, Starehe Boys' Centre is about two hundred metres from Pumwani Maternity where I was born.
Getting admitted at Starehe was one of those lucky breaks that completely altered the course of my life. It is at Starehe where I perfected my in-born goal of aiming high which resonated with the Starehe motto of Natulenge Juu (Let Us Aim High). I kept aiming high in academics so much that I managed to rise from the bottom of my class to score an 'A' in the mighty KCSE exams.
My impressive grade in KCSE secured me an admission to one of the local public universities to study a course of my choice, apart from the University of Nairobi's BSc. degree in Actuarial Science which I missed qualifying by one point in a grading system I won't bother to explain now. Had I qualified for that Actuarial course, I am sure I would have chosen to pursue it but as later events would demonstrate, it was good for me that I didn't get to study it.
During the gap year after finishing high school and before joining university, I pursued a Diploma in Information Technology at Starehe Institute where I became fascinated with how computers work. That fascination led me to apply for a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering at a local university known as JKUAT.
While I was in Starehe Institute, I applied to four top American Colleges (MIT, Cornell, Dartmouth & Stanford). I really desired to pursue my undergraduate studies in one of those colleges but as fate would have it, they all rejected me. So I had no option but to matriculate at JKUAT where, as I have said, I had applied to pursue a degree in Electronics & Computer Engineering.
I reported at JKUAT on a lovely day in May 2007. In my first year at the university, I spent my time attending classes and in the weekends, I would dash off to All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi where I sang with the cathedral's 9.30am English service choir and played the organ. I loved being part of that choir because of the spiritually enriching hymns we sang and the buddy-buddy monthly fellowships we had.
And you know what? I didn't intend to finish my undergraduate studies at JKUAT because I couldn't dismiss from my mind the desire to study in America. So while I was still a first year student at JKUAT, I submitted applications to four top colleges: MIT, Yale, Harvard and Stanford.
I informed the colleges in their application forms as well as in my essays that I wanted to pursue Physics. When we broke for a long holiday at JKUAT on December 2007, I thought that was the end of my time at the university, for I strongly believed this time round I would be admitted to one of the top American colleges I had applied for admission.
How wrong I was! All the four colleges rejected me. So far, I don't think I have ever been as depressed as I was when I received a succession of rejection letters beginning with MIT in mid-March of 2008 followed by the other three about two weeks later.
I therefore reported back to JKUAT for my second year in May 2008. For some reasons I will not explain now, I dropped out of JKUAT that year. Then I reported back in 2009 to repeat my second year but again, I dropped out.
And guess what! I still couldn't dismiss my desire to study in America that I had fanned in my mind since my days at Starehe Institute. So I decided to re-apply to top American colleges I had applied two years earlier during my first year at JKUAT, but this time, I told them I wanted to pursue a different course. I can't exactly recall which course I intended to pursue in those colleges (it must have been Political Science or History) but I am cocksure it wasn't Physics or engineering-related after having found Electronics & Computer Engineering to be abstruse during my days at JKUAT.
The colleges I applied this time round in 2009 were Yale, Harvard and Stanford because I didn't want to submit a new set of recommendation letters and high school transcripts. Back then, I thought if I just submitted better essays and improved SAT scores, I could greatly increase my chances of getting accepted. (I would also have re-applied to MIT but a member of staff in the institute discouraged me from applying for the third time.)
As it happened, the three colleges rejected me again when they released their decisions in early April of 2010. But this time, the rejection letters didn't depress me as much as they had done two years earlier in 2008.
In June 2010, I matriculated at the University of Nairobi to pursue a degree in Political Science, History, Economics & Public Administration. What struck me most about the degree is its simplicity compared with engineering, at least for me. There was room for self-expression as opposed to working with pre-defined formulas. For that reason, I loved my new course which I eventually had to stop pursuing because of financial constraints.
After dropping out of the University of Nairobi, I ventured into politics. I ran for my home-area County Representative seat in the 2013 General Elections in Kenya. My campaign was unsuccessful as I didn't clinch the seat. It was a good learning experience though.
These days, I am at my home in Kiserian reconnecting with my passions (jogging, walking, reading, writing, singing, gardening, socializing, networking, piano-playing, story-telling & computer-programming) with the faith that something interesting will come up which will launch me to the life of my dreams. That's all I am saying.