Aug 20, 2014

Meet Strathmore Law Student Who Was Told “We ni Mjinga’ But She NEVER Gave Up

Ruth Ambogo with Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at a recent event

She is just 20 years old but she knows what real life struggles are made of. When you meet Ruth Ambogo for the first time, it’s hard to tell the kind of hell she has been through to be where she is today all because of how she laughs and smiles all too easily.


“I grew up in Western Kenya and partly in Nyanza in one of those humble backgrounds where financial challenges are the order of the day,” says Ms Ambogo when I met her for the interview. She adds that the fact that she comes from a large family didn’t make life any easier.


“My father was one of those absent dads and my mum, the sole bread winner lost her only job with a local NGO and she had to go for 10 years without getting another opportunity. Simply put, life was hard,” she says.


But poor or not, Ms Ambogo had dreams of what she wanted to become when she finally grew up.


“I was in class 4 when a teacher asked us the most common question at that age ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?” some said policewomen, others teachers but there was someone who said they wanted to become a magistrate.”


She says the name magistrate sounded cool at the time. “I didn’t even know what an advocate did then but when my turn came, that’s what I said I wanted to be in future.”

Fortunately, she had the personality to suit her ambitions. “I was one of those students whom other kids termed as ‘kimbelembele’, always talkative, always the one to argue with the teachers; always asking questions and I remember a teacher once telling me that I would one day make a great lawyer.”


“I used to wonder whether I would ever achieve my dreams due to the financial challenges back at home. I however knew that education was all I had to make it in life and decided to take a leap of faith and believe that all would be well.My relatives came together and contributed to my high school education with the support of the principal who allowed me to stay in school without paying my school fees on condition that I would not get anything less than an A-”


She confesses that, “I never wanted to be one of those people who went to a primary school in Nyanza, a secondary school in Nyanza, a college in Nyanza, got a job in Nyanza and so forth. I wanted something different and Loreto Limuru was my ultimate dream school.”

Her absent father showed up and promised to cater for her education but only ended up paying for 2 terms.


“I remember this one time when he called me and said certain harsh words that I consider to have changed my life completely.


“I remember this one time when I got into an argument with him one day when I was in form two and there’s something he said to me which used to make me cry myself to sleep.


“What did he say to you?” I probe


“I don’t know if he meant it or if it’s something that was said at the heat of the moment but he said ‘we ni mjinga, your education will come to nothing,” she recalls that, “I was so bitter then asking the universe why me, why would a father say something so hurtful to his daughter ?”


She says that, “This words would later shape my life and as a result of this words I am who I am today.”


“From that moment on I decided my life was my own. If I was going to make it in life, it has to be my own doing, not my family, not friends, but me. I started focusing being on being a lawyer. I picked myself up and stopped feeling sorry for myself. I changed my attitude deliberately. I didn’t care whether the kids called me ‘kimbelembele’ because of my personality. I was going to use that ‘weakness’ to be who I wanted to be.”


Her change of attitude and hard work did finally pay off when she managed to score an A- in her KCSE and luckily got a full scholarship to study Law at Strathmore University where she is currently in second year.


Today she gives motivational talks to high school students and has been to schools such at State House Girls, Pangani, Moi Girls and many more.


“Even though sometimes I make little money out if it, it’s never about making money but rather making a difference in someone’s life. I wish young people were a bit more patient with money. Sometimes experience is what one needs more.” adding that she intends to use her law degree to become a change maker. My aim is to use the degree to venture into leadership where I can challenge and inspire young Kenyans to be drivers of the change they want to see,” she mentions Raphael Obonyo as one of the leaders she looks up to.


And for a young person who has had the chance to network with the likes of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and many senior personalities of this country she says, “The secret about networking is to approach people on a friendship rather than a need basis. That way you are create a relationship and establish value first, value that will land you greater deals with these people once trust is established.”

She adds that, “You are meant to be networking all the time, not just when you need a job.”


And for a young girl who has fought so much to make it, she advices you to never stop trying. “Through failing, you learn,” she adds that, “The most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve been told No several times but never quit.”


What can you expect from her in five years time? “I will not be shocked to find myself in a very serious leadership position.”


She now serves as the Public Relations Representative to Strathmore Student Council, Deputy President of Youth Senate- Kenya among other leadership positions.


You can reach Ruth at

This story was first published in Career Point Kenya website. You can see the original post here

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