Education found Nandi Kegode when she needed it the most. Pulled to many corners of the world throughout her life, Nandi was born and raised in Kenya and educated through British boarding schools. After her family faced a legal battle back in Kenya, Nandi needed to find a new path and her father encouraged her to pursue education in America. And the best way to do that, he said, was to join the U.S. Army.
“I felt purposeless and I blamed the world around me for not showing me who I was or how I was connected to it,” she said. “Then I joined the Army and my sense of entitlement was all of a sudden dragged through the mud.”
Nandi spent four years in the U.S. Army, where she learned valuable lessons about loyalty and camaraderie. Her military experience made her a better person, Nandi says, but she soon faced a downward spiral into depression and turned to drugs and alcohol.
“I knew if I didn’t find a way out of my abyss I was going to die,” she said. While in Vail, Colorado, Nandi discovered an opening at a Montessori school working with children, and she jumped at the opportunity. “It was the first time that something was bigger than my addiction.”
She credits education as the catalyst for putting her life together and getting sober. Soon, her dreams were taking shape and she sought to transform her newfound passion for education into something more. To achieve her aspiration of building a school for disenfranchised youth, Nandi knew she needed more education herself.
Being a private university dedicated to the public good, the University of Denver aligned with Nandi’s own ethos. She decided to continue her education and complete her bachelor’s degree in communication through the University of Denver’s University College.
“It was exactly what I needed: to learn how to communicate my story and experiences and use that in order to help children and become an educator,” she said. “Not just educate minds, but educate the human being as a whole.”
In her DU courses, Nandi felt engaged, challenged, and a sense of purpose. She learned to validate her thinking and be more thoughtful in her approach to communication. “It has been a life-changing experience for me,” she said. “I’m in love with learning.”