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Meet Kenya’s youngest PhD holder… in Math

Born and raised in Mbiriri village at the foothills of Mt Kenya in Nyeri county, Dr Purity Ngina could not in her wildest dreams imagine that one day she would be Kenya’s youngest Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) graduate.

Last month, at the age of 28, Dr Ngina made history to become the youngest PhD holder in Biomathematics in the country.

Donning short hair, she welcomes the Daily Nation team to her home, where neighbours soon flock the compound, no doubt very proud of their daughter’s achievement.

Purity Ngina failed her KCPE exam on her first attempt, getting a modest 235 marks.
Purity Ngina failed her KCPE exam on her first attempt, getting a modest 235 marks.

“It is difficult to convince some of them that I am not a doctor in the medical field,” Ngina says.

She is jovial and bursts into laughter often.

But she puts on a serious face when explaining the relationship between HIV and mathematics, which was the subject of her PhD thesis.

From a humble beginning, Ngina remembers going to school without shoes and fetching water from River Sagana, which is 3km from her home.

The last born in a family of two scored 235 marks in her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations. Her late mother, Lydia Ngina, was not amused and prevailed upon her to repeat class eight and work harder. She managed to get 368 marks.


She was admitted to Tumu Tumu High School in Nyeri.

After struggling to pay her school fees throughout high school, she managed to score B+ and was admitted to Egerton University to study for a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics.

She was then offered a full scholarship to pursue a Masters in Applied Mathematics after getting First Class honours degree, in 2013.

In 2016, she joined Strathmore University as an assistant lecturer. The German Academic Exchange Service paid her PhD tuition fee.

On June 29, she was among the three doctorate graduates at the Strathmore University.

Ngina now hopes to mentor girls to pursue Math.