27-year-old Gladys Chepkirui Ngetich has been named in the 2018 list of the top 10 rising stars in the United Kingdom.
Ms Chepkirui, who is one of the top Ph.D. scholars in aerospace engineering science globally, faced an array of challenges while growing up in a family of nine.
Growing up in the tiny village of Amalo, Kuresoi South Constituency, Nakuru County, Chepkirui scored 298 marks in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations (KCPE).
However, she was not able to secure a direct admission as per the government standards and her mother had to move from school to school seeking for her admission.
"Luckily, I joined Mercy Girls’ Secondary School in Kericho," she narrates.
[caption caption="Gladys Chepkirui Ngetich during the announcement of Rising Stars in UK"][/caption]
Upon completion of her secondary education, she emerged the top student in the then Kipkelion District in 2008 and joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology to pursue a mechanical engineering course.
In 2013, she was awarded the Babaroa Excellence Award for being the best student in her class.
As fate would have it, it was just the beginning of many achievements and awards she has since bagged.
In 2015, she secured a Rhodes Trust scholarship for her Ph.D. in engineering at Oxford where she is reported to have combined her academic performance and leadership skills.
Additionally, in 2016, she was awarded the Tanenbaum Fellowship, which is an annual competitive fellowship awarded to Rhodes scholars for a multifaceted program in Israel, which also led to her being named the 2018 Skoll World Forum Fellow.
A few weeks ago, she received a patent in collaboration with the Rolls Royce PLC.
Following her humble background, Gladys co-founded the ILUU Organisation headquartered in Nairobi and was shortlisted for the McKinsey & Company Next Generation of Women Leaders Award.
"I want young girls to know that there is no limit to your potential. I scored dismally, was rejected by some schools, became a laughing stock in school for my deep Kalenjin accent, but I still became the top even in the languages I had failed in. This tells you that one you believe in yourself, nothing can stop you," she told Daily Nation.
Speaking of her excellence, her Oxford University profiled: "She is on the path to becoming a leading pioneer in Aerospace Engineering."
Conclusively, Gladys asserted: "I hope my academic journey resonates with someone. Keep going, give your all (even if your all gives you 298/500 marks!), keep stretching beyond the comfort zone, keep dreaming because no one knows what the future holds. And how I wish more schools would do the unusual and often look beyond the grades in transcripts especially during admission."
[caption caption="A section of Rhodes Trust scholarship beneficiaries at Oxford"][/caption]