When Faith Biegon ’14 and Joan Yego ’16 sit next to each other on a couch, casually close, they are like any other pair of old friends. They back each other up after saying something or add a final sentence to round out the other’s statement. They also share an extraordinary background.
Both women participated in a unique program in Kenya that prepares bright students for admission to elite U.S. Colleges. The Kenya Scholar-Athlete Program, or KenSAP, each year selects just a dozen or so students who have scored in the top 1% to 1.5% of Kenya’s national exams. These exams are young people’s gateway to university and are taken by roughly 400,000 high school graduates every year.
In particular, KenSAP targets students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many have grown up in rural areas, in farming families. Others have illiterate parents and are first-generation high school students. The program provides free room and board, and its instructors prep the students to take the TOEFL and SAT exams and fill out college applications. Since its founding, KenSAP has placed 106 students in schools such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown and the NESCAC schools — schools that can afford to offer generous scholarships. All KenSAP students have received full financial aid.