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March 17, 2022

Mwabe ’19 Exhorts Graduates to Go beyond Comfort Zone 

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 edition of  Christian Union: The Magazine and is reprinted as a "Throwback Thursday" feature in conjuction with the year-long celebration of Christian Union's 20th Anniversary in 2022.   

As part of commencement exercises, Harvard College selected a co-president of Christian Union’s ministry for one of its top honors. 

Eunice Mwabe ’19 was one of two student orators for Harvard’s 2019 Class Day. During her address on May 29, she encouraged recent grads to interact actively with people of diverse backgrounds. 

Mwabe, who served as co-president of Christian Union in 2018-19, penned her speech as a reflection of her experiences as a foreign student at Harvard. Rather than operating in an echo chamber, the Kenyan urged classmates to spend time with people from a variety of backgrounds and seek out new experiences. Mwabe especially implored members of the Class of 2019 to show empathy to the disadvantaged and marginalized. 

DiscourseArticleDuring commencement exercises, Eunice Mwabe ’19 served as a student orator for Harvard College’s Class Day.

Serving as a student orator is one of the oldest and most cherished traditions of Class Day and Morning Exercises. The events traditionally are held in Harvard Yard’s Tercentenary Theatre between Widener Library and the Memorial Church.

During Class Day, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore (Harvard ’69, L.L.D. ’94) also addressed the crowd of approximately 1,700 graduates. The next day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received an honorary degree and served as the main speaker during the Afternoon Program for Harvard’s 368th commencement.

As for Mwabe, the devout Christian sought to highlight the importance of service to others and the pitfalls of exclusivity. “We tend to speak to people who look like us and think like us,” she said. “God has created all of us differently. We celebrate the beauty of God’s creation by stepping out and trying new experiences.”

At Harvard, a major source of spiritual inspiration and growth for Mwabe came from her involvement with Christian Union’s Bible courses, leadership lectures, and other activities. “Being in Christian Union has helped me to see my faith as my own, but also as communal,” said Mwabe. “Your faith and your walk with God end up being central to others.”

Not surprisingly, Mwabe’s journey through the iron gates around Harvard Yard involved a culture shock, compounded by bouts of loneliness and homesickness.

At times, the experience amounted to more of a shell shock as Mwabe hailed from a Kenyan community where residents embrace tight-knit families, churches, and neighborhoods. She is the youngest of six children. Her mother is an evangelist and a founder of God is Able Ministries, and her father is a chemical engineer in Nairobi. 

“I was always surrounded by people,” she said. “People’s priorities (here) are very different.”

Though the prospect of sending their youngest child across the globe for university studies was daunting, Philip and Margaret Mwabe welcomed the opportunity for their accomplished daughter. “My parents were really excited. They have always valued education,” said Mwabe. “Pursuing excellence has always been around me.”

After deeply missing the relational nature of life in her subtropical corner of Kenya, Mwabe decided to learn about “all of these funny things in America.” For example, the typical American greeting of “How’s it going?” is not meant as a literal query. Likewise, U.S. denizens tend to value their personal space. 

“It was very difficult,” said Mwabe. “Everything was very different.”

Still, Mwabe deployed her rich appreciation of community in her leadership style as a co-president of Christian Union at Harvard. The social anthropology concentrator encouraged fellow undergraduates to invest intentionally in the spiritual growth of peers and reflect Christian unity on campus.

“The people around me grew so much,” she said.

In turn, Christian Union ministry fellows expressed gratitude for Mwabe’s expanding roles within the organization. She has a “spiritual fervor and deep love for the Word, and it has been a joy watching her mature as a leader and woman of God,” said Anne Kerhoulas.

Ministry Fellow Christine Shin echoed those comments. “I’ve seen Eunice grow in her faith through her vision casting and in wisdom. She has spoken to the community at-large many times this year by exhorting her peers to holiness, repentance, and obedience,” she said. “She is very winsome, courageous, and uncompromising in her faith.”

While at Harvard, Mwabe participated in Harvard Africa Business and Investment Club, Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, and the Leadership Institute at Harvard College. Ongoing research interests include hazardous waste management, sustainable rural development, and issues involving engineering and society. 

In addition to English, Mwabe speaks French, German, Dholuo, and Kiswahili.

In early June, Mwabe returned to Kenya with plans to head to South Africa in August for a stint as a teaching fellow at the African Leadership Academy. Before entering Harvard, Mwabe participated in the highly selective entrepreneurship program for two years. The Johannesburg institution even gave Mwabe its coveted 2015 Dean Khaemba Intellectual Achievement Award. In 2013, Mwabe graduated from Alliance Girls’ High School, a national boarding school about an hour’s drive miles from her native Nairobi.

After a year or so of teaching at the prestigious African Leadership Academy, Mwabe plans to pursue graduate studies, probably in an area involving environmental science. “I’m guided by the Lord,” she said. 

One thing is certain, Mwabe is likely to showcase her oratory skills and talents to continue to inspire her peers to invest in relationships and to point them to her Savior. “Eunice is bold and unashamed to live out her faith on campus,” said Renee Ghobrial, ministry fellow. “She has been a joy to have in our ministry.”

RELATED: Want to go deeper in your faith? Click here to receive a free download of Christian Union’s "Seeking God Lifestyle” Bible Course Manual.

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