Sylvia Wanjiru Mwangi was born and raised in the central highlands of Kenya, a first born in a family of four girls. In April 2012, Sylvia was selected to join The Equity Leaders Program where she undertook a 15 months internship at Equity Bank in Nairobi, Kenya.
As an Equity Bank intern, she worked eight hours a day and most times stayed late while working on her university admission essays and studying for the SATs. During her time at Equity she received much counseling from the Equity College Counseling team. “It makes a big difference when you see others in presumably similar situations strive and achieve more than what is often thought achievable.” Above all, Sylvia received immeasurable support from her mother who was determined to have her obtain a university education against all odds. Her mother’s joy was beyond measure when she learned of Sylvia’s acceptance to the University of Toronto as a MasterCard Foundation Scholar.
Today, when it comes to demonstrating the transformative power of higher education, it’s difficult to find a better example than Sylvia Mwangi. The amount of personal growth she has experienced while at U of T may be as vast as the distance, both physical and cultural, between Canada and her native home of Kenya. She is currently in her final year of her undergraduate study in Industrial Engineering, a discipline not offered at any university in Kenya, which translates to a greater potential of driving change and development at home. Her journey as a scholar continues beyond her academics to her personal development as she strives to develop her full potential as a leader.
In November 2016, Sylvia was among the speakers in the Walrus Talks-Africa’s Next Generation held in Toronto, Canada. One of the things that stood out of her talk was her internship last summer in Belgium at Procurafrica, a firm that supplies industrial and agricultural products to manufacturers across Africa. At Procurafrica, her role was to develop a suitable strategy for the company to enter the Kenyan market and hence grow their business in the continent. She created a database of potential companies in the country that outsource raw materials and/or equipment and reached out to the generated leads. Sylvia has also acted as a champion for the U of T MasterCard Foundation scholars by mentoring the program’s newest students.
As well, since 2015, Sylvia has volunteered at the Family Room at SickKids, a second home for families with seriously ill children being treated at the hospital. That volunteering experience, combined with case studies she completed at U of T on improving health-care systems, have motivated her to advance holistic health services in Kenya. “That is what I would like to introduce back at home, where we think about all stakeholders in the health-care system and care for them all. I hope to use my degree on returning to Kenya to spearhead transformation and growth in my community by working towards leveling the playing field for all, especially through the formation of strategic partnerships.”