Embracing life through fear

Alexandra Brell

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Alexandra Brell / Staff Reporter

Big Bear, the television show “Lost,” the U.S. road infrastructure and nyama choma, which is Swahili for grilled goat meat; these are a few of Doris Magiri’s favorite things.

Magiri, a grad student in her last semester at CSUN, is a Kenyan native and has found herself a home away from home in California. She came to the U.S. in May of 2001 to pursue her education

Magiri began her schooling in Mississippi in the summer of 2001 and met some resistance.

“The racial segregation in 2001, you can still feel it,” Magiri said. “And then I came to California and all that changed.”

In speaking of her Mississippi incident, Magiri does not appear to hold any grudges.

“It was a good experience to see that part of the world,” she said.

Magiri has her undergrad degree in communications studies from CSUN. She went to Pierce College for two years before transferring. At Pierce, she was a member of the student government which gave her the opportunity to travel to several states she had never seen. This motivated her to travel the country for fun.

“I want to visit every state before I leave the country,” said Magiri who has approximately 37 more states to go in her quest.

As Magiri describes the difference in education between American and Kenya, one can feel the intensity that Kenyan students face.

“College is extremely difficult in Kenya,” Magiri said. “There is a lot of competition.”

“In Kenya, you don’t interact with the professor,” Magiri continues. “When I first came, I was very quiet (in class.) It was a culture shock,” she said.

Student life in Kenya doesn’t extend much outside of school, according to Magiri. She says that there is more opportunity for personal development of students in America as they can work while attending school.

“In Kenya, you can’t work at 18 (years old,)” Magiri said. “You have to have degrees, you have to have diplomas,” she said of getting a job.

While her preference is to stay in the US for awhile post-graduation, Magiri does plan on returning to Kenya.

“If I can get a job (in Kenya) once I graduate then I will go right away,” Magiri said. “I’d like to explore my career for at least a year before I go back.”

No matter where Magiri lands, her future professional goals are clear and she says she is looking forward to putting her education to good use.

“I want to do community development work, especially with children and poverty,” Magiri said, “in terms of education, unemployment, helping charities.”

“I think I am an average Jane,” Magiri said. “Don’t know what is so different about me from you apart from maybe my cultural background.”

Reviewing Magiri’s favorite pastimes, Magiri seems to be far from the “average Jane.” In addition to her fondness country music and admitted ten-step abilities, she loves most outdoor activities.

“Jet ski, para-sailing, zip lining,” Magiri says, rattling off a list of things that are fun for her but that also cause her some fear. “I’m on a journey to find myself,” she said.

“I’m scared of heights. I don’t like the water,” Magiri said. “It’s scary but it’s the only way to embrace my fears.”