Academic Titan: Michelle Atieno

I enjoyed my high school days so much. I had so much fun for those four years that I’m always willing to go back, provided it’s the same classmates and teachers. I’m pretty sure there are many of us out here.

I met so many great people. Funny people (such as Sylvester and Maina). Serious people. Awkward people.

I obviously learned a lot. Chemistry and Physics were my favourite subjects. Surprisingly, I didn’t do well in them in the final exams. I still wonder what happened.

I fought with prefects on almost a daily basis. I was even beaten by the school head prefect (Hi Derrick!) and class monitor (Hi Chessa!).

I still cherish the Swahili classes. Mrs Odhiambo will forever go down as one of my favourite teachers of all time!

I probably can count the number of times I was early for the after-lunch classes. I often found myself still eating even after the bell rang. Unless that week Mr Mejja was on duty. 

Francis (left) and I in high school. On this day, we went for a function at Ngara Girls High School.

Anyway, I know I won’t go back to high school. That was a moment.

The main reason I wanted to write this article is to congratulate and give my flowers to Michelle Atieno.

Michelle joined Olympic High School the same year I joined the school. At first, we were in the same classroom. Not long after, the school principal separated the girls’ block from boys’. She remained in Form 1A and I went to Form 1C. There were four streams per class – stream A and B for girls and block C and D for boys.

All through my school life, I studied with some great minds. Usually, in each class, there are always the known leaders of the pack; those who frequented the top spots in exam results. In my case, in nursery school, I had Jedidah (rest in peace). In primary school, I had Daisy, Julius, and Vincent. In high school, I had Michelle and Allan. I’d always been part of the “known leaders of the pack” and sought for the top spot for each of those stages in my school life. 

Michelle was one of the hardest people to compete against in my school life. She was (and I suppose still is) a ferocious reader. She was determined to solve problems, disciplined to attend classes, and principled to always do the right things.

Obviously, it’s hard to compete against such a person.

I recently took part in interviewing Michelle in a UI/UX usability testing session for Wikonnect, an open-source eLearning platform. Derrick Were, my high school head prefect that beat me up, snapped this picture before the usability testing session.

In addition to excelling in class work, Michelle always showed great leadership skills ab initio. By the time we were finishing high school, she had risen to the highest rank by a girl in the school – school head girl.

Michelle recently finished her undergraduate studies in microbiology at Alupe University. She is awaiting graduation.

I’d like to share this with Michelle:

Dear Michelle,

Congratulations for finishing your university studies!

For the four years we studied together, I knew you as a dedicated, disciplined, and principled person. In addition, you are a quintessential young leader. The world needs more people with your qualities. As you transition from university to the so-called real world, I wish you success. Use the knowledge you’ve accumulated over the last decade and a half to make the world a better place.

Melkizedek Mirasi

By Melkizedek Mirasi

Lifelong learner.


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