- About Us
- Switch on Africa
- Contact Us
Sandra Afwande, 23, was the only woman among the 5 finalists. The first born of two children, Sandra was born in Vihiga County in western part of Kenya where she spent most of her childhood. She was raised by her aunt while her mum eked a living in Nairobi.
She was a sickly child and spent considerable time in hospitals. At 4, she was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia. “This is why I always aspired to be a doctor, specifically a haematologist because I have experienced first-hand the challenges people with blood disorders experience in their life,” Sandra says.
Sandra is an avid reader – from books to articles on the Internet. She also finds therapy in traveling and sightseeing.
She was in between schools for primary education – starting off in a rural school and sitting her primary exams at Blessings Academy in Nairobi where she topped her class with 403 out of 500 marks to secure a place at Statehouse Girls for secondary education.
At Statehouse Girls, Sandra also played cricket and was part of the Korean and Human rights club.
In her final exams, she scored an A-, a few points short of qualifying for Bachelor of Science in Medicine.
Naturally, Radiography was the closest course to her first love. “It was an easy choice because I also loved physics in high school. I hope to do a masters either in nuclear physics or in radiography,” she says.
Encounter with nuclear
Sandra first encountered nuclear energy in the medical field. “When I was 12, I suffered an injury that required a hip x-ray. I remember lying on that table and seeing that light the x-ray machine produced and I was just fascinated,” she says.
“In that instance, I wanted to be the person operating that machine,” she says, adding that in her 4th year of study, she encountered the electromagnetic spectrum, x-ray, gamma ray and radioactivity – topics that helped broaden her mind on nuclear energy and its application.
Sandra is a member of the Kenya Young Generation in Nuclear, a nuclear advocacy organization which is headed by a radiography lecturer Mr. Raphael Chesori.
Through a friend, she also learnt about and enrolled in an atomic ambassador course. In this course, she learnt about the various ways to talk about nuclear energy including highlighting its benefits to stakeholders and the public at large. In March this year, she became an atomic ambassador.
It was during this time that she got to work on the nuclear essay competition in which she emerged 5th.
“The one thing people do not know about me is the fact that I have sickle cell. I have not had the courage to talk about it. I don’t want to be viewed as inadequate or incompetent due to my health,” she says.
Word to the leaders
“My advice to world leaders, especially African leaders, is for them to work for the people. Many good policies that should benefit the citizens have been shoved under the carpet due to politics and corruption and poor leadership. Leaders should learn to listen to the people on what matters to them.”
My most memorable seasons of life include my time in class 8 when I was awarded best in every single subject. By the end of the day, I had six badges on my chest and the first time I did x-ray unassisted at KNH.