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WELCOME CLASS OF 2020 This January, girls traveled from all over Kenya to interview for a spot at Daraja Academy. For most of these girls, daraja was their last chance. Daraja Academy was thrilled to welcome the Class of 2020 to campus this January! Girls from all over Kenya applied this past winter for 30 spots. To apply, girls submit academic transcripts, essays, references, a financial statement, and eventually attend an interview here on campus. We look at four criteria when evaluating potential Daraja girls: (1) Financial Need: All Daraja girls come from homes of material poverty and have no other means of continuing their education; (2) Academic Achievement: Successful applicants typically rank amongst the highest in their primary schools; (3) Diversity: Our student body currently represents 32 tribes and multiple religions; (4) Leadership Potential: We’re looking for girls who demonstrate determination, courage, grit, and kindness, who want to help others and act as agents of change in their communities. Daraja Founder, Jenni Doherty, participated in this year’s admissions process and is delighted with the results. “We’ve found a truly incredible group of girls this year,” she said about the Class of 2020. “They’re smart, they’re ambitious, and they’re already looking at the world critically and finding ways they can help and make things easier for others. I’m so excited to watch their progress over the next four years.”







CONGRATS CLASS OF 2017! “This is not the end, we have somewhere far to go.” - Purity, class of 2017 On May 5, 2017, the Class of 2017 threw their caps into the air and cheered as they received their high school diplomas. The graduating class spent four years studying the national Kenyan curriculum, culminating in their KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) exams at the end of their final year. But at Daraja, we don’t believe that education ends with exams: the graduating class returned to campus for our three-month “Transition” program, in which students are provided with additional career and life skills training as well as an internship in their chosen career path. We are confident that the Class of 2017 is fully equipped to thrive outside our campus. Principal Victoria returned to campus from maternity leave to give a speech to the graduates: “It takes the whole village to raise a girl, and indeed we’ve done it. It’s not a teacher’s doing, it’s not my doing, it’s not the founders’ doing. It’s us together.” Purity and Mercy, this year’s elected “honorable students,” each gave a speech. Purity emphasized that “you must work hard, muster courage...this is not the end, we have somewhere far to go.” Mercy focused on the transformation she had undergone at Daraja. “Yesterday, we were being shown our pictures from Form 1 and we just couldn’t believe it. Everybody has changed. We kept saying, that’s not me. That’s because Daraja has changed us. Daraja has brought us to who we are now. I would like to tell you this journey would not have been successful without everyone here.” This is the fifth class to graduate from Daraja Academy. They will be missed by their teachers and fellow students, but we are so excited to see all that they will accomplish.

We are thrilled to announce that two Daraja girls, Sophia and Patricia, are moving forward to the national level of a music and drama competition. They will both be performing spoken word poetry. This week-long event invites secondary schools from across Kenya to compete against one another in spoken work, debating, singing, storytelling, and dancing. We wish Sophia and Patricia the best of luck!

SPORTS Daraja sports teams have recently played in a variety of sporting events, including football, volleyball, and rugby. The rugby team has been performing incredibly well and will proceed to the national competition, where they will compete against 16 teams from all eight of Kenya’s provinces. Daraja’s rugby coach, Denis, hopes to send the team to the coast for the international beach rugby tournament in July.

DEBATE A team of Daraja girls recently participated in a local debate. Although our team unfortunately didn’t receive enough points to advance to the next level, they did win their round with the topic, “nuclear energy used as clean renewable energy.” The team recently submitted an application to The Great Debators, a televised debate between Kenyan secondary students. Our fingers are crossed that they’ll be invited on the show!

EVENTS Daraja campus hosted the second inaugural “Daraja Challenge” on June 3rd of this year. This fundraising event included a mountain bike challenge and a wilderness walk. Participants also planted trees at Naibor secondary school. On May 21st, the Daraja girls ran in their own version of “Bay to Breakers” (on a makeshift track around the campus in Kenya) as teams in California ran in the official Bay to Breakers race to fund-raise for Daraja Academy. The two races raised a combined $52,000! Thank you very much to everyone who participated.

farm The Daraja campus struggled through a long drought this year, and we are all very relieved about the recent rainfall. We are actively pursuing methods to improve campus sustainability so that we can more easily handle the next drought. Our new farm manager, farm intern, and other staff are working on implementing the use of a long-term fodder system called silage, improving drip-lines to conserve water, and building new fences to keep all of the farm animals safe on campus. We’re very excited about the farm’s progress!



STUDENT WRITING Evolution of the education system in Kenya By Suzane A. Class Of 2017 Should the education system in Kenya be evolved from 8-4-4 to 2-66-3? I leave that to you. Better done after a thorough consideration of the long term effects. Change is the only constant thing. I don’t oppose, instead I try and cope with the new changes. The current system of education, the 8-4-4, is a perfect foundation of learning, if you ask me. But we don’t do much when it comes to co-curriculum. Talents do earn a living in the current century, but with our system, rarely do we discover our talent. If we adopt the 2-6-6-3 system, statistics state that a high percentage of students will join high school when they are underage, but do we consider this? It is so interesting to hear of the long-term effects of the system, not only to Daraja Academy, but to so many other schools that are out there. Daraja Academy is a non-governmental organization that offers four-year scholarships to ladies who do well at their primary level and whose parents aren’t able to pay their high school fees. In addition to that, the girls must have leadership skills since the school’s main aim is to bring up strong grassroot women of change in society. Where are we going to take these girls and these boys?

CLEVER GIRL By Joan A. class of 2019 It is in the morning wake up full of determination Well prepared, ready for class The mind focuses on what the day was meant for, Pretty girl where is your determination? A long time being challenged with many problems Believing in your big mind has released you to problems Remember your mind directs you to where you want Surely, clever girl where do you want to go? Every day setting your mind to big things. Remember working towards the big things you are fighting for For nothing comes on a silver platter

This is real Kenya. The world is evolving, we need to educate our girls, our boys, they are the future leaders of tomorrow, the people to represent us in parliament as well as fighting for our rights. We are not going to become vagabonds due to lack of enough qualifications academics-wise, no, not now.

Sincerely, beautiful girl, what do you want to get?

Call it repugnance, I will take it, that’s exactly what I’m feeling about the current ongoing issue.

With assistance from your parents, teachers and friends

It was once said, “he asked what’s life because he wanted to know what’s death.” Don’t bring us the new form of education to test our intelligence. Martin Luther King said he had a dream that one day African people will no longer be judged by their color but by their content of intelligence and character, and surely it is proven.

The extraordinary, unique girl who is you friend?

This article was written for our student newspaper, The Daraja Times, which you can find on our website.

Your dream still directs you where you go, You should work smart to fight for it

Mind what you are doing and caring for, Since you might lose it on the way Your value can’t change remember You are still clever and unique!

Daraja girl becomes school teacher: CATE’S JOURNEY

The best lesson cate took from daraja? to always stand as a woman of integrity, strength, and hope. and is a secondary school teacher herself. Earlier this year, Cate graduated with a B.A. in Education from Karatina University, located near Nairobi. She now teaches Kiswahili and History at a secondary school in Kiambu county. She loves teaching, and especially loves the job security of a government job. Cate is not only self-sufficient, but is also able to support her family by paying her little brother’s school fees and helping her mom buy food. Ultimately, Cate wants to pursue a Master’s degree in Education and secure a job as a lecturer at a university or college. Cate credits Daraja for much of her success by developing her life skills and building her confidence. She says that at the Daraja Transition program (an additional “gap year” curriculum at Daraja that takes place after the traditional secondary school curriculum), she learned how to fill out college applications and plan out her finances. Transition also afforded her the opportunity to complete an internship at a local school, giving her the opportunity to interact with students and improve her teaching skills. Cate says that the best lesson she took from Daraja is to always to stand as a woman of integrity, strength, and hope (or W.I.S.H., as we say at Daraja). She learned to be proactive and stand up for what she believes in. Cate still feels guided by “Daraja’s 4 Pillars,” and believes they have helped her to be a successful and strong woman.

daraja graduate, university graduate, and now a secondary school teacher. The very first class of Daraja graduates is finishing their undergraduate degrees and starting their careers. Catherine Loshakol (Class of 2012) returned to campus last month to visit and update us on her life post-Daraja. When we first met Cate nine years ago, she had no way of affording secondary school and little hope of realizing her dreams. Today, she’s graduated from Daraja Academy, earned her B.A., and is a secondary school teacher herself.

Cate misses Daraja: She misses the company of her sisters, playing football, W.I.S.H classes, sleepovers and pillow fights, swimming in the river, and of course Daraja hugs. She says that without Daraja, she would not have been able to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher. When asked what she would tell a girl in the same position she was in 9 years ago – desperately wanting to attend secondary school but unable to afford it – Cate said she would tell her to continue to be determined, focused and hard-working, and that she should be hopeful. Cate strongly believes in one of Daraja’s mottos – that educating a girl means educating the whole world.


“Daraja is investing in the right kind of future for girls. I knew I wanted to invest my career in advancing that vision.”

“I was drawn to Daraja because of the courage and vision of the founders in going to Kenya and dedicating their careers to advancing the future of girls through a first-rate education,” Ms. Acoca explained. Her passion for the program intensified after watching Alice and Esther, two recent graduates of Daraja Academy, give speeches about their experiences at Daraja this May. Ms. Acoca found the grace, brilliance and courage of the girls deeply inspiring and said that they gave some of the “most articulate and honest talks I’ve heard from women of any age.”

“I was drawn to Daraja because of the courage and vision of the founders in going to Kenya and dedicating their careers to advancing the future of girls through first-rate education.” The Daraja Education Fund (DEF) is thrilled to announce that Leslie Acoca MA, MFT, an award-winning, national leader in girls’ health services, is joining the team as the Director of Development and Operations. Ms. Acoca sees her new position at DEF, which supports a girls’ secondary school in Kenya, as the natural extension of a career dedicated to forging health, wellness, and justice for vulnerable girls across the United States. She recognizes that educating girls is the surest way to ensure the health of girls, their families and communities globally.

As a former scholarship student herself, Ms. Acoca was particularly attracted to Daraja Academy’s practice of awarding full academic and boarding scholarships to every student—without which they would be unable to proceed past primary school: “These girls are natural-born leaders who couldn’t afford to meet their potential. It would be so much harder for them to become leaders without the educational tools Daraja gives them. Daraja is investing in the right kind of future for girls. I knew I wanted to invest my career in advancing that vision.” Ms. Acoca’s past positions include Co-Founder of Commonweal, a renowned cancer support and juvenile justice center; Founder and Director of Threshold for Change Inc., a treatment continuum for dually-diagnosed youth; Director of the Women and Girls Institute at NCCD; and Director of the National Girls Health Screen Project. Ms. Acoca holds a B.A. from Yale University, and a dual Master’s degree in counseling and psychology from the University of San Francisco. She is a licensed MFT in the state of California.


Most recently, Ms. Acoca founded and acted as President of the National Girls Health & Justice Institute, for which she created the Girls Health Screen—the only scientifically valid health and trauma screen for 400,000 incarcerated girls nationwide. For her work, Ms. Acoca was awarded the Stoneleigh Fellowship Award and the Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award from the Dalai Lama.

Profile for Daraja Academy

The Daraja Gazeti: Summer 2017  

All the news from campus, circa June 2017.

The Daraja Gazeti: Summer 2017  

All the news from campus, circa June 2017.