I feel like my fingers can hardly keep up with the exciting news I have to share with you, She’s the First readers! Jessica Posner and Kennedy Odede, co-founders of our partner school, the Kibera School for Girls, and nonprofit Shining Hope for Communities, recently tied the knot! Can you think of another couple that radiates such goodness in this world? On behalf of everyone at She’s the First, we send our deepest congratulations to a world-shaking, life-changing couple.
The newlyweds met when Jessica Posner, a student at Wesleyan University, packed up and moved to the Kibera Slum in Kenya. At the time, Jessica was one of the first outsiders to live in Kibera, a region of Kenya suffering from extreme poverty and Africa’s largest slum. Before her arrival, Kennedy had earned the reputation of “mayor” in Kibera because of his work in establishing a community-run organization that offered AIDS education, female empowerment, health and sanitation, soccer, microfinance and theatre programs. As fate would have it, the two crossed paths and co-founded Shining Hope for Communities as Kennedy pursued his dreams of earning a degree at Wesleyan University himself. (This leads me to an entirely new first for Kennedy, but I’ll keep you in suspense until the end of this post!)
Under their guidance and leadership, Shining Hope for Communities has grown to offer the Kibera School for Girls, The Johanna Justin-Jinich Community Clinic, Shining Hope Community Center, and multiple other community services and women’s empowerment programs. To learn more about the incredible work of Shining Hope, visit here.
As for the other incredible “first” from Shining Hope for Communities, Kennedy became the first person from Kibera to move his graduation tassel from one side to the other. In honor of overcoming significant challenges, filling others with Hope, and being a mentor and leader to all in his home community, Kennedy delivered the Senior Class Welcome during Wesleyan University’s 180th Commencement Ceremony on May 27. A graduate of the Class of 2012, Kennedy shared his message of hope as he addressed his fellow graduates. In his speech, he declared his wish to return to Wesleyan 13 years from now to watch his young students at the Kibera School for Girls walk across the stage and receive their own Wesleyan diplomas. In closing, he asked his peers to join him in saying,
“Today I promise to use my Wesleyan education to champion hope throughout the world.”
How will you join Kennedy in this vision? How do you use education to champion hope? Share your thoughts and congratulations with the newlyweds on Twitter or in the comment section below!
For a full transcript of Kennedy’s Senior Class Welcome, click here.