Juggling careers

Liz Mkamboi Lenjo, 24, is a lawyer, writer, model and a mentor. Shirley Genga finds out what it takes to manage all these

What was your childhood dream?

I am the first-born and I have two sisters and a brother. I grew up in Buruburu then we moved to Imara Daima and now Donholm. My childhood dream was to be a musician, dancer and actress. I would always be on the dance floor during children’s variety shows. Hip-hop was what I loved most. I wished I could rap as well as MC Lyte. That changed when I went to high school and in Form Two, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer.

Liz Mkamboi Lenjo

What schools did you go to and what did you do after high school?

I went to Wanja & Kim Comprehensive School in Buruburu from 1991 to 1996 then joined Moi Educational Centre in 1997 to 2000. I then joined State House Girls’ High School. In January 2005, I attended Alliance FranÁaise to perfect my French. In August, I joined Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) to pursue a Bachelor of Laws degree and graduated in 2009. I am currently a student at Kenya School of Law undertaking the Advocates Training Programme. I am doing my pupilage as I wait for the bar exam results.

What is your work history?

My first job was as an editorial assistant at East Africa Magazines Ltd, then I interned at the legal department of the Standard Group after graduation. In July 2009, I joined True Love as a contributor and later in November became a freelance writer at Human Performance Dynamics Africa (HPDA) —Footprints Press.

I am also the Mr and Miss University International (MMUI) — Kenya/East Africa coordinator and a pupil and legal assistant at a law firm in Riverside. Also, until March, I was co-founder and editor of Varsity Phunk Magazine.

What have these titles enabled you to achieve?

Apart from being appointed coordinator of MMUI Kenya and East Africa by the Kenya Franchise holder Daniel Juma last year, I was Miss Catholic University of Eastern Africa in 2006/2007, Miss University Kenya first runner up in 2007 and Miss Congeniality 2007. These titles provide a platform to gain exposure into the corporate world and to create an impact in society.

Also, at the beginning of this year I partnered with Mkamboi Mwakale to start a women’s magazine — Varsity Phunk. It was a challenge starting, but it is coming up well and the first issue is out in supermarket magazine stands. The second should be out soon. However, I have resigned as editor of the magazine to work on other projects.

I still write for True Love and HPDA. I was also part of the ‘Life Journeys’, the coffee table book on some of the outstanding women achievers in Kenya and we are currently working on another coffee table book. It is an amazing experience because I have the opportunity to take part in documenting Kenya’s rich history and culture.

What are the challenges of all the things you multi-task in?

Being a young lawyer, I have to strive to be unique. The legal fraternity is getting crowded and the standards keep rising. However, being a writer affords me more exposure and enables me to network.

As far as the MMUI role is concerned, my biggest challenge is to give the franchise a new face. We are currently working on re-launching MMUI in Kenya as well as opening up more opportunities for the various university beauty pageant winners. Getting corporate sponsors is a challenge, but I am with a dedicated team and we are determined to make the event happen this year and thereafter be consistent annually.

As a writer, the challenge I face most is being able to convince someone to trust me with their life stories in order to tell it on their behalf. It is fulfilling, though, when they call back to thank me.

Out of all the things you do, what do you love most and why?

I have a blog dubbed Liz Lenjo’s Law- lizlenjo.elimisha where I try to discuss legal matters in a conversational and approachable way to enlighten Kenyans in some of their basic rights and knowledge of the law. I started it in January, but it is slowly shaping up and I love it. I also enjoy modelling because I have managed to inspire small-bodied girls to realise they are as beautiful as the international models.

How do you balance everything you do?

God is my balance guide. Being a workaholic is tough. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed, but I still find the strength to get up and proceed.

Do you give back to society?

Yes. I do pro-bono fashion shows for charity and donate clothes to rehabilitation homes I’ve worked with. I helped organise the Kibera Library under Vicky Smith. I also work with a friend who has a rehabilitation centre in Kayole for girls dealing with prostitution and child abuse as well as mentroing young girls.

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