As a young high school graduate in Kenya, Mwangi Mukami was labeled a failure by society after receiving a D+ on his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE). With limited prospects available to those without a university degree in Kenya, his future seemed bleak. The perception of being a “failure” left him vulnerable to his fate.
Despite the discouragement, Mwangi persevered and is now a well-known scholar with five degrees, including a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the University of California’s Goldman School of Public Policy, which he earned in 2019. He also holds a magna cum laude double major in Political Science and International Relations from San Francisco State University, as well as two associate degrees from City College of San Francisco in arts and humanities and behavioral science, all with honors.
Mwangi attributes his success not to academic prowess but rather to his commitment to humanity. He stated in an interview that his interest in education was to help create social change.
Throughout his career, Mwangi has served in various leadership positions, including as the first male president of the Kenyan Children’s Cabinet in 2003, making history as the only child to participate in the Bomas Constitutional Process in its entirety, which resulted in the approval of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. He also founded and served as the National Youth Parliament’s youth president, as well as the Chair of Africa for the Martin Luther King Jr. Africa Foundation.
Mwangi credits his success to his single mother, who raised him and his six siblings while selling fruits and vegetables like oranges and tomatoes in Kawangware. In a Facebook post after receiving his fifth degree, he credited his move from Kenya to the United States for enabling him to pursue his dream of obtaining a university education.
Mwangi’s initiative, the Mwangi Mukami Low Revenue Families Endowment (MLIFE), currently dedicates 10% of his annual income to empowering Kenyan children and youth. He aims for his success in education to reflect in the legacy he leaves behind for other children. The MLIFE collaborates with Mwangi’s alma mater, Kawangware Primary School, to provide educational tools for children. The foundation has also donated funds and established the LEAP Tech Center to enhance e-learning at Kawangware in response to COVID-19 disruptions.
Mwangi’s philanthropic model focuses on empowering learners to help those who come after them, creating a virtuous cycle of paying it forward. The current MLIFE school program aims to assist pupils in reading critically, thinking creatively, writing clearly, and speaking eloquently.