Salma Yusuf: A model of a Resilient Youth.


By Washington Onyango

In life, one mostly gets what they want. Those who want opportunities get them, those who want excuses get them, and those who want to grow actually grow. Many young people lack opportunities, however many opportunities on the other hand lack young people. Why the disparity? What really can we do to grow? This is the story of resilience, story of Salma


Salma is a student at Moi University. However, her profile is rich. She has accomplished a lot, within the time of her study. How does this work?

Silently, you are a great inspiration to so many young people. Your endless resilience and hard work is admired greatly. However, we don’t know much about you, so really, what do you stand for in life and what are some of your achievements

Yes, basically I have always applied this mantra in my life. “You either make it big or you stay your whole life wishing for somebody else’s life”. I don’t have a picture-perfect life but when I want to get something, I go for it endlessly until I see some ray of hope.I come from a culture where female education is not that much of a priority but being able to push all those barriers and going for my dreams by all means; I feel that has been a great achievement. I am a writer, a prodigy in poems, I represented Kenya for the Enactus World Cup in Canada in late September this year, a YALI student for the cohort 15 and the winner of the Community Service Award 2016 among other achievements. This is not because of sheer luck but because of God and my endless resilience.


Your Campus life seems very eventful. How come other students graduate only with one degree, having done nothing else while you managed to do so much?

There are various opportunities out there. Sometimes we never see them and sometimes we are too lazy to disturb our ourselves. I have mainly gotten the various opportunities in my life through Opportunity Desk and Hey Success. These two platforms offer you with a variety of opportunities to choose from. I have also been part of YALI network for a year now, have done the YALI online courses and I am now finally a YALI student. I know you might be wondering what YALI is, it’s actually a leadership initiative that was established by President Obama. In school, I engage myself in different activities so that I can fully utilize my abilities. I have been  part of Unilever, Enactus, Red Cross, The Writers Guild among workshops. Campus is such a lovely place. There are so many opportunities, but the trap is, you must seek them.



So, what are the benefits of attending the workshops and how do you get the notice of the workshops.

  1. Seminars and workshops give you an ocean of knowledge from different intellectuals and also widens your scope of understanding. They build you as a person and they are also a good place to meet with successful people; establishing of healthy networks. Seminars also inspire you to be greater and to achieve all your goals.

How do you get to know about them?

The secret is to always be alert. Whatsapp is a very useful tool. Sometimes we see opportunities pass by and we don’t utilize them. I ensure I go through my whatsapp forwards and most times I get opportunities right there that I apply for.That is not all, I make good use of the groups that are formed with the administrators of the previous summits that I have attended e.g.ASENTI .So you see, your previous networks can pave way for your future success.

How do you meet the qualifications to attend them?

You don’t have to do much. You just have to have an above-ordinary profile and a way with your words. Most summits would require you to submit either an essay or two. How you play with your words matters a lot. It’s how you express yourself. You have to give your all and understand the key points that you need to put out so that you are seen to be different to the next person.

How about your community service engagements, what do you do for the community, what have you learnt from it?

I usually wonder how people just use their own energy or wealth to benefit their own selves and their families. It’s really sad. I usually like to believe that I am just an inch away from that homeless man or that disabled person or that orphan. It just takes an accident or death or even bankruptcy and financial constraints to have our tables turned. Once you believe that the world is ours and we have to help those that are in need, then that is enough inspiration to keep us moving forward.

There are various benefits from community service. One being God. Once God has seen how much you are doing for the less fortunate, He blesses you more. This is my belief and I have seen it work.

You also learn to be kind and humble. You may not believe this, but people are suffering out there so much that you may wonder how corruption is ongoing in Kenya, so much that you may be forced to think as to how someone somewhere can sleep comfortably and think about the next place to squander more money.

A person that has the love of his community, that person can never go down, at all. Once you have the blessings of all these people, you are bound to be blessed forever.

I have learnt many lessons. One being that the kindest of people are the poorest. A poor kid can give you his one sweet just to get a good photograph with you.

You learn to be tolerant especially towards ruthless people who do not care about anyone else. In fact, I usually get super angry sometimes when I watch the news and hear that there is drought or some really big problem in a certain County, I get so irritated ….like really? I have noticed something in my travels that the people in the first world countries keep on succeeding because in as much as they eat, they do something for their societies as well. A total opposite to what happens here, and it’s a recurring heart wrecking story.

I have learnt that the poor are comfortably satisfied and happy with what they have, what we see as never enough; and the rich have everything yet they are not happy, yet they want more. While we have light, they have stars, while we have tap water, they have rivers, while we have bungalows, they have valleys and lands. Who is more rich in the real sense?


Kindly share more about these programs which you are part of and how one can be part of them…

YALI is a leadership training that was initiated by President Obama. It is grouped into three tracks: civic leadership, public management and entrepreneurship. Only the most competitive students are selected for the 12- week training that takes place in Kenyatta University, Nairobi.

The benefits from YALI include good networks, extensive training, scholarship opportunities and even acquisition of leadership skills and abilities.

You can access the YALI next cohort dates through this site :

  1. ALU stands for African Leadership University. It is based in Mauritius. However, before admission you have to complete the Africa Rising Course and the Maths and English tests.

2.I have learnt about other countries in Africa, learnt about leadership and Africa development and the strategies that we can put in place to transform our continent.

  1. Unfortunately ALU doesn’t offer full scholarship to students now; but interested students can still check out: ALU in Google.
  2. Unilever is a multi- national consumer goods company that deals with day to day products of human beings. With Unilever, I have served as a brand ambassador for almost 3 years now; marketing and advertising about Unilever products and also assisting in the activation of the Unilever Africa Idea Trophy competition.

2.With Unilever, I have learnt marketing and human resource skills. I feel that I am now ripe to work in any enterprise.

  1. I joined Unilever through an Enactus colleague. But interested students can check out Unilever Kenya site and see if they can secure any opportunity.


What would you advise students to do while in Campus?

I would tell the youth to invest in their time. Time is the most important asset. They can invest their time through engaging in meaningful discussions, revising their school work, attending seminars and conferences, networking, being part of associations and taking up of leadership roles among others.

Salma is available through:


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