Dear undergrad student: failure does not define you

Fifteen years ago TODAY, I graduated from undergrad. This was probably one of the toughest programs for me to finish - yes even tougher than PhD.


Copyright @careerslaymama. Must ask for permission to use.


I was an international student on scholarship. In my first semester I failed a course. This was bad but I didn't realize that things would get worse. I went on to fail two courses in second year and at this point, I was not just going to lose the scholarship, I was actually going to be kicked out of university. I was all alone, with no family. I had wonderful friends who held me up in prayer and encouraged me.


It was at this point that I gave my life to Christ. My life felt like such a mess and I remember on January 17, 2003 saying Lord if you clean up my life I will follow you for the rest of my days. The following February , my roommate and I had been accepted to go on exchange to Australia. We packed up our bags and went off not knowing whether I would be coming back to Canada to finish off my program or going back to Kenya.


I met God in Australia. Australia is a beautiful country - one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It was a retreat for me from all of the ups and downs of undergrad. I had been raised as an Anglican, BUT in this season I grew in my faith away from religion. I learned to hear God's voice by spending time in the Word. I finally gained clarity in my life and had PEACE - so much peace. I was ready to return to Canada pack up my bags and move back to Kenya.


Then I heard back from the University.


The Senate had met and decided to introduce a year of grace for students like me who would have otherwise lost their scholarship. They understood that if they didn't extend grace, I would lose my studies and the university would lose their investment so the grace year was win-win. I cried so hard when I got the email from the University. I decided that if this Great God could do that for me, then He was worth following and He has never let me down since (although I don't always agree with His timing BUT we are working on that part of our relationship). One of the conditions of reinstating my scholarship was that I had to switch from Science to Arts as I was doing much better in my Arts courses. This was at the time hard to do - although now I see how much value the humanities and social sciences have added to me. So pride aside I said let's do it. Because of the switch I ended up doing my degree in 5 years instead of 4 and I was 25 when I graduated. I felt like I was so behind, as most of my friends who graduated with me were 22. But God's time - always so perfect.


Me with Dr. Martha Piper, President & Vice-Chancellor at the UBC President's Residence - May 2020


On May 25, 2005, I walked down that podium. My parents weren't able to make it to my graduation so it was really bittersweet. I was one of two International Student valedictorians and got to enjoy a wonderful dinner at the Presidents house. When God restores, He restores perfectly.


UBC Chan Centre - 25 May 2005


Here are some lessons I learned from this season


1. Your past failures do not have to define your future

Learn from your mistakes and pivot them into the future you would like to have. When I finished undergrad I didn't see me where I am today. 15 years later, I got two more degrees under my name.


2. The journey is more important than the destination

Keep on moving! Don't just live for the end - enjoy the ride and embrace every lesson that comes with it. When you look back, even the worst situation has something to teach you. Enjoy the process.


3. God's timing is always perfect

What you thought was a huge set-back pales in comparison to where God is taking you. Your future is bright!


#KeepSlaying #YouGotThis #GodsGotYou


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