|Wanjiru Kamau is an example of using one's education to benefit others.
But education was her passion and with her children grown and flown, she eventually returned to Penn State to earn her Ph.D. and stayed on as an adjunct professor and university administrator. That's when Wanjiru became acutely aware of the struggles of African immigrants - many of them asylum seekers - who started pouring into this country in the 1990's. They were penniless, traumatized by war and grieving lost family members yet expected to quickly adapt despite wide cultural and communication differences. So at 59 she quit her job, moved to Washington DC and took $10,000 in savings to start the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF). AIRF has smoothed the transition of thousands of refugees from all over Africa in a multitude of ways and has provided cultural training to educators from all over the United States. This is why Wanjiru won Encore's Purpose Prize in 2011, an award for individuals over 60 creating social impact that benefits society. She firmly believes, “This is why I was educated, to give back. If not me, who else?”