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From Nairobi, Kenya to Detroit: Anything is possible!

wcccd news logoBy David Butty

Somewhere in the Great Lakes Region in East Africa, lies the country of Kenya. Most people know Kenya as home of long distance runners, while others think of it as a vacationing spot because of its wildlife.

What most don’t know about Kenya is that it is also one of Africa’s most highly heterogeneous countries, containing some of the continent’s most diverse ethnic groups and complex cultures. One of Kenya’s best known ethnic groups, the Swahili-speaking Masai, believe in order for a boy to become a man, he must first kill a lion.

WCCCD’s 2014 valedictorian Mary Jacqueline Muli-Dockery WCCCD PHOTO

WCCCD’s 2014 valedictorian Mary Jacqueline Muli-Dockery

Kenyan native Mary-Jacqueline Kavivi Muli-Dockery says her home country has a complex but democratic governing system that works for the most part.

“(Kenyans) also boast of a proud rich patriotic attitude from its citizens,” says Muli. “I am extremely proud to be Kenyan.”

Muli, who holds a dual citizenship of both Kenya and Canada, is also a legal resident in the United States with a home in Detroit. “My residency in the U.S. affords me most rights and privileges as any U.S. citizen, except the right to vote and run for any political office and or apply for certain federal jobs.”

Muli represented Wayne County Community College District’s graduating class of 2014 during the commencement at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, on May 31, where more than 1,500 students received associate’s degrees and certificates in various disciplines. Wayne State University President, Dr. M. Roy Wilson delivered the keynote address.

Dr. Wilson, former deputy director for strategic scientific planning and program coordination at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health, challenged WCCCD’s 45th graduating class to always strive to be the best in any undertaking as they embrace the world.

In her remarks to her fellow students, Muli said, “Allow me to respectfully acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet today. I pay respect to the elders past, present and future; for in them we entrust our memories, traditions, culture and heritage.” She dedicated her remarks to the class of 2014, the veterans for their services to the country and to memories of her family for providing education to girls in an era when it was unpopular to educate girls in Africa.

“Growing up as a young girl in Nairobi, Kenya, no one could have convinced me I would be standing here today delivering the valedictory on behalf of my graduating class. I am convinced that anything is possible.”

When Muli first enrolled at WCCCD in the fall of 2001, she was young and full of energy with an ambitious plan for her future.

“I can vividly remember standing in the hallways of the Downtown Campus and feeling so small, so insignificant and so overwhelmed. I called my sister after my first day and expressed my experience and she said “Don’t worry. Soon you will see a light at the end of the tunnel.” I thought to myself, “Well, I can see the light as we speak and I’m pretty sure it is a freight train.”

“Two years into my plan I was diagnosed with a form of lung cancer and some autoimmune condition I couldn’t even pronounce at the time; sarcoidosis. I had to stop nursing school dead in my tracks in order to take care of my health. I went from training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon to not being able to go up a flight of steps without getting winded.

Someone was meddling with my order of events! I was devastated! I am currently enrolled in WCCCD’s Nursing Program, and might I add that on May 10, 2014, I ran my first 5K marathon since my diagnosis and actually finished it… in 34 minutes!» she emphasized.

“Today, I stand before you healthy through no strength of my own, but by the incredible, incredible grace of God and the support of my family,” said Muli, whose hobbies include writing and traveling. “I have a huge passion for living. I believe every day is a gift, and so I try to make every minute count.”

Referring to her life’s challenges, Muli said to her fellow graduates: “I believe in my heart this arena is filled with similar stories of triumph. We have all overcome something and we should collectively be proud of what we have accomplished. It is undeniable that WCCCD has changed us in an immense way.

Beyond being a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, a child… you are now graduates and you should be extremely proud of yourselves. So, with that being said, “Congratulations Wayne County Community College District’s class of 2014. The world is your playground. Be bold, be colorful, be kind, be honest and most importantly give back.”

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