I am closer to achieving my dream thanks to the Riara Katiba Scholarship

If I was asked to summarize the opportunity Riara Law School’s Katiba Scholarship offered me, my response would be, “I am sitting in the shade today because Katiba planted a tree for me yesterday.” My name is Samuel Kyalo, a recent graduate of Riara Law School (RLS), and this is my story.

I am the first born in a family of three, born and raised in Machakos County. Since childhood, the field of Law interested me profoundly. I am not quite sure of the exact moment when the Law bug bit me, but I can say without any doubt, that it was long before I stepped inside a high school classroom. My primary school teachers would often ask us to say the career paths we wished to pursue later in life. When my turn came I’d intone, without batting an eyelid, “When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer!” That would elicit giggles from my wet-nosed classmates, most of whom had never heard of such a career. But the reassuring smile that I always got from my teachers reinforced my resolve to one day be a prominent lawyer. I became an instant mini-village celebrity after excelling in the 2008 KCPE exams, which secured me a position at Kabaa High School, one of the top provincial schools in the then Eastern Province.

At Kabaa High School, I became greatly interested in current affairs and therefore joined the Debate and Current Affairs Club. I was not shy and I was an excellent debater and negotiator, traits I have perfected with the passage of time. I attended many live court sessions during school holidays and inevitably fell in love with the Legal Profession all over again. The thing about the legal profession is that it is like a waterfall of knowledge and in the words of Mehmet Murat Ildan, “Knowledge is the only water which makes one thirsty when it is drunk.” The more I learnt about law the more I wanted to know more and the more my passion continued to burn.

I finally completed my high school studies in 2012, and although I got a good mean grade, it did not land me a government-sponsored slot in any of the Public Universities, as competition for law courses in Kenya is cutthroat. The Joint Admissions Board (JAB) offered me a place at South Eastern Kenya University to study Bachelor of Education (Arts) degree but I wasn’t ready to settle for anything other than law. I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I wanted to be nothing else but a lawyer.

I took up a teaching job at a secondary school back home while persistently searching for scholarships and any other available option that would put me on the path of the legal profession. One uneventful day, I stumbled upon an advertisement on the internet titled, “Riara Law School Katiba Scholarship”, a scholarship that would enable two qualified and deserving students to study law at RLS.  To qualify as an awardee, all I had to do was to write a 2500-word essay on my interests and detailing how I would use my law degree to contribute towards the proper implementation of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. This opportunity felt like the crack of a new dawn so I wrote and delivered my essay to RLS in August 2013

At an unveiling ceremony held in December 2013, Boru Gollo Jattani and myself, were declared winners of the award.  That was the beginning of our “free ride through law school”. At the ceremony I couldn’t help but feel like a man who had crossed miles of desert only to stumble upon an oasis.

During my time in RLS, I was taught by the most outstanding faculty who held my hand along the way. In addition to excellent faculty, Riara’s Socratic method of teaching enabled me to approach issues critically, leading to an exciting learning experience.

I also took part in some of the most reputable Moot Court competitions, including the International Red Cross Moot (Nairobi), World Trade Organization Moot (South Africa) and the All Kenyan Moot Court (Nairobi), being mentored by among others, Prof. Sylvia Kang’ara, the RLS Dean, as well as working for a top legal firm, all these throughout a four-year period.

On 16th March 2018, I graduated with an LL.B. degree (First Class Honours). During the graduation ceremony, I was also awarded two of the most prestigious University awards: The Vice Chancellor’s Roll of Honour for excellent academic performance and the Excellence in Leadership Award for contributing to student leadership in my capacity as Chairperson of the University’s Electoral Authority.

I am currently undergoing the Advocates’ Training Program at the Kenya School of Law which I hope to complete at the end of this year, and not even the sky is a limit to what I hope to achieve. I would like to pursue a Master’s degree in law, practice and teach law and later serve my country as a Judge. Apart from my love for law and everything that has to do with legal issues, I am also interested in entrepreneurship.

Today, I am closer to achieving my dream than I was five years ago thanks to the rare opportunity afforded by Katiba Scholarship. I extend my deepest gratitude to Riara University for the life changing opportunity.

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