Dr. Mercy Kitavi was raised in a small rural village in the eastern part of Kenya. Pursued her secondary education for four years in a provincial school away from the city where she faced water shortages among other challenges. More often, she was motivated to work hard to escape from the hunger and poverty she grew witnessing and made it to Egerton University, a public university at the Rift Valley region of the country where she pursued a Bachelors degree in Science. She would say that having a first degree was what she needed to light her path to education and the globe. After pursuing a Master’s degree in Biotechnology, she received a scholarship from Irish Aid to do a PhD at the National University of Ireland, Galway (2010-2015).
Since then she has worked with the International Potato Center, a non-profit organization and member of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research teaching researchers on the use of heritable genetic makeup to breed better sweet potatoes that counter climate change, diseases and increase nutrition to feed millions of populations in sub Sahara Africa who depend on it as a staple crop. She understands the value of giving back to the society, she has therefore retraced her steps for future generations, she serve as a board member and a mentor to the girls in her secondary alma mater.
Her message to them has been that Education has never been more important than today and even though some of them are going through tough times, they should never give up on their dreams, they should move out of their comfort zones and if they continue to push a little bit they will not only make their families happy but will have a successful future. She is also a patron of the primary school I attended.