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Counseling Psychology Career and Professional Resources

Student Spotlight: Anne Mungai

May 19, 2010

  • Student Spotlight: Anne Mungai


“Njogu ndiremagwo ni muguongo wayo”
(Kikuyu proverb)

Translation to English:
“An elephant does not get tired of carrying its trunk.”

Anne explains her choice of the above quotation:
“Despite the heavy school work that I need to do while in graduate school, I will carry on ’til the end, because it is my dream and my responsibility to do the best I can to achieve this dream and not get tired of it.”


It has not been easy, exhausting my family’s funds, funds that I contributed nothing in accumulating. I miss the life back home in Kenya where you could buy five cabbages with the dollar that you buy one cabbage for at the Burlingame Fred Meyer’s. Life is so simple in Kenya; you don’t worry about what kind of food you eat, how much calories in a day you are eating. You can enjoy cheap French fries everyday and not get overweight. But what I miss the most is the people who I know would sacrifice anything probably even their lives to ensure that I achieve my dreams. I remember my father holding back his tears, not looking at me in the eyes at the airport because he had to be the “African man”, the man who doesn’t show emotion, the emotion here being the fear of his little girl “Wa Kamande” as he calls me, being devoured by the unknown world of America. But the prayers he and the rest of my nuclear and extended family keep praying for the little girl (who is now ten pounds heavier) are being answered, one after another. My biggest miracle so far, happening on April 15, 2010.

I get to school at around 9.00 am because I report to work at Bon Appétit at 10.00am. I head to the Dubach PC lab in Templeton and as I sit on this computer, I say to myself, “I’m either gonna hate or love sitting at this particular computer for the rest of the time that I’ll be at Lewis and Clark.” I check my mail and I gasp, “Oh my God!”, “Ngai! (Kikuyu, for ‘God!’)”, I log off and head out and I’m crying. I don’t want people to see me crying so as I’m walking to the Agnes Flanagan chapel, I try to compose myself whenever I meet someone on the path. I get there and thank the God to whom my family back home prays for me. I say this with no shadow of a doubt, that if they didn’t pray for me, I wouldn’t have gotten the AAUW 2010-2011 year fellowship. At the Agnes Flanagan I sit in a dimly lit chapel and my tears can now flow freely no need to compose myself. He knows me inside out! Soon my emotional session is over and I need to get to work. I still have to help my parents out, in any little way possible.

I applied to Lewis and Clark because the Graduate Student Handbook in the library at USIU, my undergraduate university, recognized it as one of the universities that offers graduate training in Addictions Treatment. I was accepted for Fall 2009, but I couldn’t get a visa interview at the US embassy in time to travel, settle and start my classes. I am glad I postponed my enrollment to Spring 2010. I was able to spend Christmas with my family and to enjoy the roasted goat meat. Christmas is not Christmas without goat meat in my extended family. In a weird way, it’s our Christmas tree.

So I arrived December 29, 2009 and what a welcome I had! It snowed in Portland that very day! School began two weeks later. “Lots of difficult reading!” was my constant response whenever I was asked about school but with time now I have been able to cope and in my second semester I will be taking a RESEARCH METHODS class, among others. I will be fine, remember, because my family back home is praying for me. I have a dream, to help people suffering from addictions and their families, as well. My brother did not die of suicide related to alcoholism in vain, and my family did not go through the pain of the disease and his death for no reason.


Note about Kikuyu added by Joan Hartzke McIlroy: 
The Kikuyu tribe, also spelled Gikuyu, is Kenya’s largest ethnic group, comprising approximately 22% of Kenya’s population (about 6 million people, according to a 2007 fact book). 

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