• ashirk@gmail.com
  • Kijabe, Kenya
on the college graduation

on the college graduation

As part of my new role, I had to speak at graduation in December. I had to wear a fancy robe and process and speak (and not trip climbing the stairs). I was nervous, intimidated, and had a bit of impostor syndrome as I stepped up to the microphone. . .but I was truly truly proud of the 112 diploma students and 6 residents and the myriad of stories they represented. . .

Below is my speech, and some pictures from the day (including our 3rd PECCCO class!):

Good morning – 

To the Bishop, the CEO, our speaker Dr. Okutoyi, the Principal, and all honored guests thank you for your presence with us here today.

 To our students and their families and guardians, welcome. We are so glad to share this occasion with you, and grateful for all the sacrifices and hard work that have brought us to this moment of celebration and thanksgiving.

A few years ago, I was on call for the pediatric ICU and a 7 year old child came to our casualty. He had been seen elsewhere and when he arrived in Kijabe he could barely breathe. . .

Our nurses and a nursing student and a PECCCO student received him in casualty, took his vitals, started his breathing treatment and ordered a chest xray when he did not immediately improve. The chest xray revealed a huge mass, and we admitted him quickly to the PICU.

That evening, as we prepared to get his CT scan, do his biopsy, and start his potential chemotherapy, I was running down the hall with a new surgical fellow and nursing student, discussing the plan of care.   The fellow shook his head, marvelling, “In Kijabe, you don’t believe anything is impossible, do you?” I smiled, knowing that He was about to see over and over what makes Kijabe special.

That night, everyone I happened to work with – from the fellows, to the nurses, to the clinical officers happened to be a former KCHS or Kijabe hospital current or former trainee. We provided world class care, and within 12 hours we had a diagnosis and had started care.

But the most remarkable thing was not this care, which I had come to expect, but it was the mother’s comment to me.  She was not a Christian, and did not know Jesus, but as I entered the room the next morning, she stopped me. 

“Something is very different here,” she said. “You care differently and try harder. . . what is it that makes this place unlike anywhere we have been?” I smiled, and marvelled at another chance to talk of changes that come from following Jesus.

As you all graduate today, I know you have trained in this environment that surprised this mother – one of compassion and excellence, of care that emanates the love of Jesus in an undeniable way, one that believes in a God who defies impossibility in the care of His children. Our faculty members, tutors and trainers have poured their knowledge into you and lived their faith out in front of you. I am so grateful to them for their dedication. Your student leaders {   } have led you with skill and grace and been outstanding liaisons, and we want to acknowledge them today as well. To all the facilities who partner with us to train, we are grateful for your partnership and care for our graduates

We pray that you have not just received training to provide excellent medical care, but that we have given you the ability to shine a light in dark and difficult places, to walk well with people in the valley of the shadow of – medical work is a holy privilege, and I pray that you will not forget this part of your training.

I asked for Dr. Pete’s speech, that he wrote before he had to leave Kijabe to be shared in the Graduation Booklet with you, and I want to echo his prayer for you, as it is mine as well – that you can provide healing where possible, but that you will always be a source of comfort to your patients – giving them strength and hope as you point them to Jesus.