So let’s switch things up a little bit.

What I’m addressing here, is a subject that’s been on my mind for a while. In fact its something that I personally went through and I see a number of young people experiencing the same thing.

‘….High school is over ..what next?’

Some people have this figured out :straight to med/law/engineering school and that’s okay. Others..well they just have no single clue and that’s still okay.


November 4th 2015: lunchtime

Having my last exam paper collected by the invigilator was such an exhilarating feeling, and what made it better was that some people in that room still had one more exam to write.(Yes History was always the better choice..debatable). If you had asked me at that moment where my next steps were I’d have given you a clear and concise answer. I was going to the Dental School at the University of Nairobi (U.O.N), parallel of course because given the high levels of cheating that year and also knowing my capabilities I had already ruled out the option of going in direct.


This was a dream I had since I was a 10-year-old child in standard 4. All my compositions for “What would you want to be when you grow up” contained the same thing, ‘Dentist’. At that tender age I already knew all the hard work it was going to take; a) Perform well in my KCSE particularly in the three sciences, b) Work my way through the 5 years of dental school, c) Do a government attachment, d) Probably end up doing a masters e) Begin practicing. 

This is a picture of me in class 4..YEAR 2007. Dreams of being a dentist began.

One question I always ask myself is: would my younger self be proud?


Truth is I was ready to do the short courses everyone does after high school. Reality is my parents refused. I’m sure most people would be surprised by their decision because for most, they are forced into doing short courses to avoid trouble and perhaps laziness. Meanwhile, my parents wanted me to just take a break. 4 years in the Kenyan system is enough to drive anyone mad, and the next 5 would be even more hectic. They just wanted me to do something that wouldn’t be as tiring for that period.

Little did we know that would result in me being off school for nearly a year.


My year started with a short trip to Dubai with my mum where a conversation with her made me realise that my passion for Dental Sciences had begun to diminish. Obviously being the proud person I am, I did not let anyone know my true feelings. Instead I kept that to myself. I thought that maybe not talking about it would once again, light the fire that used to fiercely burn inside me.


Results Day.

Let me tell you how this was one of the most stressful days of my entire life. Not only were results being released but I had the gift of having BOTH my parents in the house. My dad literally refused to leave the house till results were released. The main cause of that pressure however, is that 2 days to the results’ day I had a mini panic attack, I was very certain I had failed my Chemistry practical which would be the main reason for my poor performance.

My mum sent the text.. 5 seconds later the reply came.. I held my breath because she was silent for a while.. then all of a sudden she’s coming towards me hugging me and REFUSING to show me my grades… I was so confused.. when she finally announced them, they (she and my dad) were over the moon. But I..I  broke down in tears (Never seen my parents both confused at the same time)

Truth is it was at that moment that I just knew I had reached a dead-end on the path towards reaching my dreams.

After finally opening up and explaining to them the situation, they advised me to go ahead and apply for the course then we see what happens. They had faith I’d get in but my gut feeling told me otherwise.

This Photo with one of my closest friends was taken the evening of results day in school.

The Aftermath

Panic set in and I decided to try apply for a business course. Business has always been my Plan B. Although after reflecting on it I came to realise that it actually has always been my preferred choice, I just deviated a bit and was too scared to go back to it.

Well, I did apply to Strathmore University for a Business Course….which was a disaster..  I got rejected. ( Contrary to what people believe, anyone can get rejected doesn’t matter if you were in Kianda before or not.) My parents don’t even know this by the way, I was way too embarrassed at the time to let them know. (Sorry mum and dad)

Time was ‘running out’, and I began panicking because I did not know where I’d end up. My mum did not want to hear of me applying to majority of the Universities in Kenya for business so that really left me desperate. My only other option was to leave the country, which I was uncertain of.


Most application statuses by this time had changed from verified to shortlisted and finally to admissible. Personally my status still read verified. It was in this period that I went to the only person I believed would help.

Getting down on my knees I asked God to show me where I was meant to be. I was lost and needed help finding myself academically. Deep down, I already knew the answer but I needed to be sure.

In early August I finally made my decision. It was really hard because it meant letting go of a lot of things, some of which I’m still trying to come to terms with over a year later. I decided to take the opportunity offered to me by my parents and leave the country. This decision was made based off of two things:

  1. My application status still read verified.
  2. Opportunity only knocks on your door once.


Final Remarks

You may ask, “so Ivy how do you know you made the right decision? ”

Remember how I asked God for help? I got my response from Him on 22nd September 2016. While walking into the arrivals terminal of an airport miles away from home, I received a text from U.O.N which told me to report to school the following day with immediate effect three weeks after my course had already started. It was at that moment that I knew I had made the right choice.

The point is  it’s okay to take your time figuring out what you want to study in University or if you even want to go to University. It may be better to delay your year of entry than to start something you’re uncertain of. At the same time its okay to start a course you may think is for you only to leave after a year because you realise halfway that it’s not what you want.

I know not everyone is lucky enough to have parents who are willing to let them take a year off school, or who support their dreams of perhaps becoming musicians, but don’t give up on your dreams, they are valid. Just try find a way of showing your parents how passionate you are about something and maybe, just maybe, they’ll give in.

‘You have to know where you are first, to know where you’re going.’- Eric Thomas.

I have no idea why I always look mad at something. Photo by Tara Thiani. I.G art_lens




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