As we watched Paskalina Karoli approach the graduation stage at Oldeani Secondary School with flushed cheeks and a shy smile to accept yet another award for her achievements, we were reminded of the road she took to reach this proud moment.
Paskalina grew up in a local coffee plantation where her mother and father worked as farmers. From a young age, her love for reading and eagerness to learn the English language made her a stand-out student at Gyetighi Primary School. However, Paskalina understood that even if her parents were able to cover the cost barriers of her continued education, attending Oldeani Secondary School would be a challenge. The two-hour journey from home to school would not give her the time she needed to focus on her studies and master the more challenging curriculum that comes with attending secondary school.
Having followed Paskalina from her first day of Kindergarten, after completing primary school, we selected Paskalina to be a LeMond Scholar. An initiative that covered her secondary school costs and invited her to live at the TCF Scholarship Hostel located next to the Oldeani Secondary School campus – thus eliminating the many barriers that would have prevented her from earning her high-school diploma.
Today, Paskalina says, “living in the Hostel, I never had to worry about food, electricity, or time to study. I don’t think I would be where I am today if it were not for the scholarship.” Paskalina used this leg-up to soar in her studies. On graduation day, she earned 6 of the 9 subject awards for receiving the highest scores in History, Math, Chemistry, Biology, English, and Geography.
We know that her final day at Oldeani Secondary School won’t mark the end of her education as she has big plans for her future, which include a post-secondary degree. When asked what’s next, Paskalina says, “I dream of being an Engineer one day, and I know now that if I put my mind to it, I can get there.”