“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Frolicking in the sun. Puddle-jumping in the rain. Teasing my sisters. Feasting on dessert. Sipping tea. Family vacations on white sandy beaches. This was my childhood in Kenya where at school, a diverse curriculum of the arts, math, sciences and even dovetail joints assured that amidst all the fun, I was receiving a well-rounded, stellar education.

I left the land of my forefathers for the land of opportunity when I was nine years old, never looking back until I visited ten years later. It was an eye-opening experience seeing the country I so vividly remembered, through such different lenses.

On one trip, I met Lilly, a six-year-old orphan, who personified life itself with her radiant smile. For the lack of school fees amounting to the price of a Big Mac, she was denied one of life's most basic opportunities — education. Lilly's story is all too common in Kenya where children face significant obstacles in life; obstacles I never had to face. I don't know where Lilly is now, but I pray she is still smiling.

I have a responsibility to remove the barriers that hinder so many. I have been tremendously blessed with a first-rate education and a rich set of experiences. With courage, I will combat injustice through education and the private sector. With humility, I will build bridges connecting people to their dreams. With joy, I will harness creativity to reveal Beauty.

America has been the staging ground. As it turns out, my greatest opportunity yet awaits me in Kenya. There may be steep costs and painful sacrifices, but Lilly's generation deserves a future as bright as her smile.

— Karibu Nyaggah