From Kenya to New York: A Student’s Firsts at Le Moyne

This story is part of our March “Spring Break” newspaper, currently available online only.


Corinne Becker, Staff Writer

Anyone who has weathered the winter squalls in Central New York knows Syracuse gets its fair share of snow. During blizzards, Le Moyne’s campus becomes blanketed with ice, making for chilly trips outside and frigid hikes up the hill to Grewen Hall.

But recently, Le Moyne’s Professor Kirst stumbled upon a Dolphin who, up until now, had never seen snow before—Hilda Kiprono.

Originally from the village of Iten in Kenya, Hilda isn’t acclimated to the cold that other students grumble about. She first saw snow as it fell outside a window, and while most of us dread seeing snowflakes flutter down, Hilda was excited.

“On my way to school, I was, like, smiling the entire time…It was so beautiful,” she said.

However, as many natives know, just because the snow is pretty doesn’t mean it’s fun to deal with. Hilda’s home in Iten is known for producing championship runners, and Hilda herself attends Le Moyne on a cross country scholarship. The only problem? It’s not fun to run in the cold.

“It’s freezing!” Hilda laughed when talking about winter practices with her teammates. 

Unfortunately, spring break didn’t offer her any solace. A flight back to the warmth of Kenya costs $1000 both ways and takes up a whole day of travel, so Hilda opted to stay in the States. 

In addition to the snow, Hilda has found plenty of other differences between Iten and Syracuse, one of them being the academic resources here at Le Moyne. She appreciates one-on-one time with her professors and the accessibility of tutors. 

“I like learning here better because you have so many resources,” she said. “Back home, it’s like a Grewen Hall full of students with just one lecture and just one professor, so it’s kind of hard.”

As a nursing major, Hilda believes it’s important to learn as much as possible during her time at Le Moyne. “I’m grateful I’m here because I’ll grab some small concepts…and take them back home.”

In Kenya, healthcare looks a lot different than we’re used to in the United States. Insurance is hard to come by and many people don’t get regular checkups, which increases the risk of medical emergencies. Last year, Hilda’s uncle passed away of tuberculosis because he was not able to see a doctor on a consistent basis. The loss inspired her to use her future nursing degree for good.

“I’m using that with a positive attitude and it’s now a goal for me to go back [to Kenya and] start my own clinic under his name.”

Hilda wants her clinic to offer tuberculosis screenings and other services to people who might not otherwise get treatment for their illnesses. After she graduates next year, she plans to start putting things into place and working towards making her dream a reality.

“Coming to America has expanded my knowledge,” she said. “I feel like I’ve learned from different diversities and different people.”

Le Moyne has not only offered new weather, but also a new set of possibilities for Hilda’s bright future.