RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
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No. 1


Elisha Ngetich

DPhil (PhD) in Surgical Sciences
University of Oxford
Medical Research, Education and Social Entrepreneurship

Andrew Ologunebi

Elisha Ngetich is a doctor, global health specialist and Rhodes scholar currently pursuing his PhD in Surgical Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Elisha grew up in a tiny village on the outskirts of rural Kericho, Kenya, where he lived with his parents and four siblings. Four years later, his parent’s separation resulted in Elisha and his siblings moving in with his mother, who managed to secure a casual job working on a tea plantation in Kericho. Elisha enjoyed school, but finances were hard owing to his mother’s meagre salary, and the children were often sent home for failing to pay their school fees.

Despite his precarious financial situation, Elisha was a conscientious student and managed to secure a place at Kericho Boys’ High School. From there, Elisha went on to study hard and was the first in the school to place in the top 15 students nationally after completing his final year exams. This was out of more than 400,000 students across Kenya. Achieving such a high result provided Elisha with the opportunity to work in a bank for two years before starting medical school at the University of Nairobi in 2011. Elisha explains that the move to pursue Medicine was driven by a desire to achieve job security, having witnessed the struggles his mother had faced growing up.

During his undergraduate medical studies, Elisha became acutely aware of the challenges of the Kenyan healthcare system. This became particularly apparent while he was on placement in smaller, more remote hospitals, where he witnessed patients sharing beds and others sleeping on the floor due to a lack of adequate resources.

After completing medical school in 2016, Elisha began work with the Ministry of Health as a junior doctor in the surgical unit of Nakuru General Provincial Hospital. Over the course of his 36-hour shifts, Elisha became all too familiar with the problems of the Kenyan healthcare system again and was determined to make a change. Turning his efforts to health policy and research in a bid to improve clinical outcomes across the country, Elisha applied for the Rhodes scholarship at the University of Oxford. He went on to secure his place as one of just two students selected nationally in 2018.

In 2019, Elisha, along with a group of friends, co-founded the Integrated Cancer Research Foundation (ICRF) Kenya, an organisation that seeks to reduce the burden of cancer and improve its management through evidence-based approaches. Drawing on their undergraduate experiences, Elisha and his peers set up the organisation in recognition of the fact that too many Kenyans were coming to the doctor with advanced stage cancer where little treatment could be offered. Serving as a director and board member of the clinical division, Elisha works with a team of about 20 other experts (PhD and Masters holders) to organise collaboration with universities and other organisations in the country to create awareness and conduct cancer research. To date, they have organised more than 30 outreach visits to a total of 3000 people in various parts of Nairobi, focusing especially on marginalised areas. As Clinical Director, Elisha’s main responsibility involves liaising with local hospitals to ensure patients follow up with them once care has been delivered remotely. By refining this follow up mechanism, Elisha and the team have more accurately been able to assess their impact on remote communities following medical outreach visits.

Elisha is also the co-founder of Iluu, a social impact organisation aimed at addressing gender inequalities and improving access to education in marginalised communities in east Africa. Iluu works to provide mentorship to girls across Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, organise regional exchange programmes and support students through scholarships. There are currently more than 10,000 students across 20 high schools involved in the programme, and Elisha and his co-founder have personally sponsored five girls to a total of £5,000 while looking to secure funding. Through this programme, Elisha hopes to provide students with the opportunity to interact with other like-minded peers, gain travel experience and develop the life skills required to become self-sufficient.

Elisha currently serves as the President of Oxford University Africa Society, a position where he represents over 400 African students and thousands of alumni at the University of Oxford. This position has given him the opportunity to champion for increased access and representation of African students at the University of Oxford. He also sits on various Oxford University student boards, including the Oxford Foundry’s Student Advisory Board, where he helps co-create entrepreneurial initiatives such as the Future Leaders Entrepreneurship Programme across the university and beyond. He is also the author of ‘The Bold Dream: Transcending the Impossible’, published in January 2021 by New Generation Publishing. In this book, he reflects on his academic and professional life, having climbed up the academic ladder from a rural primary school to the University of Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. With this book, Elisha’s hope is to inspire younger generations from similar backgrounds that it is possible to achieve whatever you set your mind to. He has sold more than 2,000 copies to date.

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