Jennifer Mwende Kasyoka
I’m Jennifer Mwende Kasyoka, a form three (junior) student at St. Al’s. I went to Mitingani Primary School and later joined St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School in 2015.
I would love to share with you my experience in extra-curricular activities, mainly in track. I started participating in track when I was in fourth grade. I was only participating in long races such as 5000m and 10000m, which entail doing 12 and 24 laps respectively. Track is our family sport, and I remember some years back as a young girl, my mom and dad would tell me that they were famous athletes in their county, and no one could outdo them. That was before they passed on. After my K.C.P.E. exams, I left my rural home with my sister and came to Nairobi in search for an opportunity to further my education, and luckily I found St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School.
When I joined St. Aloysius, initially I felt very lonely because everything seemed new, including fellow students. Gradually, I began making friends; and, thanks to our favorable school policy on extra-curriculum activities, I began discovering and showing my talents in track. I could participate in 400m hurdles and other disciplines as well. In Form One (freshman year), I was able to excel in the 400m hurdles race which earned me an opportunity to compete at the next level which was county. At this stage, I did well and managed to proceed to the metropolitan level. The venue for this competition was at Makueni Boys High School in Makueni County, which is my home county. The meeting here was a reunion with old friends, and I found myself competing with many of the same students whom I used to compete against in primary school. Things didn’t go well for me at this stage, but I never lost hope in track.
In 2016, when I was in form two (sophomore), I participated in the competitions again but lost in the second level (county) as a result of insufficient time to train. In 2017, I participated in different disciplines and field events such as discus, but focused a lot of energy in the 400m hurdles race which earned me an opportunity to move to the next level. At this level, things were tougher and that required more training. I had this belief inside that I would make it to the national levels, which had always been my dream, and I knew I had what it takes to make it. The competition was held in Mombasa County for a period of one week because track and field was combined with other sports. On the day for 400m hurdles, I was nervous. The hour and the minute came, and I was assigned my lane - the second outermost lane. Inwardly, I told myself that I had already lost the race. ‘‘Silence for the start’’ I heard the race official say. When we got ready to start, the gun shot sounded. I finished the race at position seven which to me was a great achievement. Due to my performance I did not qualify to the next level, but still I still cherished the fact that I had reached the national level of the competition and represented my school.
I have been facing many challenges in track, but in the midst of these challenges I have always believed in myself, and this has enabled me to attain the impossible. Navigating through these stages up to national level itself was a great success on my part. Putting the name of St. Aloysius on the national platform with track is an extra-ordinary milestone. I have a dream of becoming a team manager for athletes. Just as Lupita Nyongo puts it, “dreams are valid” and “once an athlete, always an athlete”. So I will always keep the fire burning and my dreams alive.