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Mary Njeri: University student during the day, security guard at night

By Mireri Junior | September 16th 2021

Mary Njeri Kariuki is a Fourth-Year Bachelor of Science (Criminology) student at Murang'a University. [Mireri Junior, Standard]

Behind her doe-eyed look, calm demeanour and Mona Lisa expression is a young, principled woman who has experienced the vagaries of life.

“I am a third-born in a family of six siblings; born and raised in Nyahururu, Laikipia County,” Mary Njeri Kariuki tells The Standard on Thursday, September 16, after attending her morning classes at the Murang’a University.

She is a Fourth-Year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Criminology and Security Studies).

Njeri attended a primary school in Nyahururu, and later Gatero Girls’ High School in Laikipia, where she scored a B- (minus) in the 2015 KCSE exam.

Dissatisfied with her performance, Njeri repeated Form Four in 2016, though writing that year’s national exam at a secondary school in Kericho, where she, again, scored a B- (minus) of 54 points out of the possible 84.

Though disappointed, she accepted the results and embarked on applying for a university course.

“I have always wanted to pursue a course in criminology. So, I applied for a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminology and Security Studies at the Murang’a University,” said Njeri.

In 2017, she was called to join the institution of higher learning, much to her delight.

Coming from a family that has many siblings (six), her college fees was going to be difficult to come by, and she knew it. 

Upon joining Murang’a University, Njeri ventured into hotel waitress work in Murang’a Town, but her father, a primary school teacher by profession, expressed concern, saying a study-work arrangement would negatively impact her academic performance.

“My dad was against the idea, insisting school fee responsibilities were solely his. I told him that I wanted to chip in, as I had noticed he was struggling to keep all of us (siblings) in school,” she said.

“He accepted, though with a lot of hesitance,” said Njeri.

Later 2018, she quit the waitress job, saying the work was demanding, hence eating into her class time.

Using her savings, she started a small-scale beauty and cosmetics business in the university in 2019.

“I would make Sh800 on a good day, and Sh500 on a bad day,” she said.

In early 2020, when the Covid-19 crisis struck, her business was badly affected, leading to its closure. At the time, all universities in Kenya had been shut by the Government to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

It was then that Njeri applied to join a private security firm, Deltaguard Limited, that offers services to the Murang’a Level 5 Hospital.

“I earn Sh7,900 per month,” she said.

“That is still little, given I have other expenses alongside the school fees. So, I have to engage in other income-generating activities, such as washing clothes at a fee to meet the deficits.”

During the day, Njeri attends classes at the Murang’a University, while at night (from 6pm to 6am) she provides security at the county hospital.

Two off days

According to the 23-year-old, she only has two off days in a month.

“I usually sleep between 6am and 8am, and for longer hours on days when I don’t have early morning classes,” she said.

According to the vicenarian, earning her own money gives her peace.

“When people spend on you, they feel that they have a right to control or manipulate you. We’ve read in media love triangle cases that ended tragically after fall-out over money. I’m urging young women to work hard for their own money, so that they can be financially independent.”

The student says some of her college-mates, especially well-off girls, look down upon her because of the nature of work that she’s doing.

“What they say doesn’t hurt me, because I am easing the fee burden off my father’s shoulders,” she said.

Njeri says she’s not in a romantic relationship because of, among other reasons, the time she spends at work and at school, and the desire to realise her dream.

“With all the work that I’m doing, and studies too, where would I get the time to date someone’s son?” she posed.

Njeri will complete her Fourth-Year studies in October 2021, and is optimistic to get a job with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

“Meanwhile, I won’t sit and back and wait for well-wishers, or a man to foot my expenses. I will do what I possibly can to fend for myself. If someone wants to help, let him or her find when I’m somewhere [financially],” she said.

An interesting fact about Njeri is that she doesn’t have any active Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account.

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