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#HumansofDukeSanford: Raphael Obonyo

March 6, 2017

#HumansofDukeSanford is an occasional series highlighting members of the Sanford community.

Rapahel Obonyo outside Sanford building

"I grew up in a small village in Kenya, an informal settlement called Korogocho. It’s the third largest slum in Kenya. I heard of this scholarship by the Ford Foundation. It was extremely competitive. So I applied for this scholarship, and I got it. And it was a good scholarship because if you got it, you could go to any university in the world, provided you were qualified. Duke was always my first choice. Even if I got the scholarship now, I would still come to Duke. Last year I was named the UN Person of the Year in Kenya. And that for me was really, really big. Looking back and I said “oh my”. A few years ago, I didn’t even dream of connecting with the UN. Now I am named one of the UN persons of the year. Those are ‘aha moments’ that make you really, truly see and reflect on how far you’ve come. There’s a way Sanford helps you to see better and to move farther, you know?” - Raphael Obonyo MPP’13

Raphael Obonyo has served as a Special Adviser on United Nations Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board and the World Bank’s Global Coordination on Youth. Previously Obonyo served as the Director of The Youth Congress, a premier non-profit organization in Kenya.

Photography/Interview: Carol Jackson

Read more stories in the series here.