Cynthia Meikan and Brian Mutave: Breaking Border and Cultural Barriers to Pursue Courses in STEM

In the heart of adversity, amidst the arid lands of a pastoral community battling the shackles of tradition (FGM and child marriages), overcoming financial adversities and growing up in areas with poor infrastructure, two remarkable souls emerged as beacons of hope, breaking down borders and cultural barriers to chase their dreams in STEM fields.

Cynthia Meikan, the third born in a family of four children, grew up in Loitoktok, Kajiado County to parents whose income barely reached US$2 a day. In a community where quality education was a privilege, not the norm, her parents sought an alternative. Bridge Illasit School offered them hope, a place where Cynthia’s thirst for knowledge ignited.

She remembers her learning at Bridge,

Bridge Illasit wasn’t just a school; it was a gateway to possibilities. I was able to quickly blend in, and participate in various co-curricular activities that shaped me to the person I am today.

High school brought new challenges as Cynthia encountered diverse cultures. Fueled by a desire to break the chains of early marriages and create a path to empower girls in her community, she excelled in her KCSE exams, achieving an impressive A- (minus). This achievement was not just a personal triumph but a triumph for her community.

The University of Nairobi’s calling letter was her ticket to a new world, a world she had dreamed of beyond the confines of her community. Today, Cynthia walks the halls of higher education, on her way to becoming a medical doctor. “My journey doesn’t end here,” she declared with passion. “I aspire to revolutionize public health systems, especially in my community.”

On the other hand Brian Mutave, the firstborn in a family of two, was born on 16 September 2002, in Machakos County. Growing up in an underserved community, Brian faced numerous challenges, but his determination and resilience propelled him towards success.

In 2016, Brian sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Bridge Kangundo, where he achieved an impressive score of 394 marks. He later secured a place at Mangu High School.

At Mangu’ life was different, Brian mused.  I was used to the Kamba culture but there, I found myself in a mosaic of cultures and learned that unity transcends tribe. My horizon expanded, teaching me that the world was both vast and interconnected.

In 2021, he sat for the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and achieved a remarkable mean grade of A- (minus).
Brian’s commitment to education led him to pursue a course in Civil Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta International University (JKUAT). His choice of Civil Engineering was driven by a desire to make a lasting impact in his community.

Growing up in an underserved community, Brian witnessed firsthand the need for improved infrastructure, particularly in areas such as road networks, housing and water supply.

Civil Engineering became Brian’s tool to shape a brighter future for his community, a tool to uplift the marginalized, and to break the cycle of poverty.

I’m determined to go beyond Machakos, to explore and learn, and then return to contribute,” Brian declared. “Infrastructure will be my instrument of change.

Cynthia and Brian, two individuals from different corners of Kenya, united by the fire within them, inspire us. Their stories remind us that barriers, whether financial or cultural, can be broken. Education is the bridge, and determination is the foundation.