Dean of students recognized as global ambassador

By Gus Bode

For Dean of Students Peter Gitau, it was nice to get noticed.

Gitau was one of eight former Eastern Illinois University students honored Saturday as Global Ambassadors. Gitau, who earned his master’s degree in educational administration from Eastern Illinois in 1995, said the dean of the university’s graduate school told him he had been nominated in August, largely because of his program, Teach My Kenyan Children.

Teach My Kenyan Children is Gitau’s international non-profit organization that fosters development through education in Africa.


‘I felt a very strong sense of privilege and honor to know that somebody noticed (efforts in personal and professional life),’ Gitau said.

Lori Henderson, a publicity promotion specialist for the Eastern Illinois graduate school, said Global Ambassadors are former Eastern Illinois international students who have achieved prominent positions and regional to international recognition for their accomplishments.

Gitau, a native of Kenya, said he began the Teach My Kenyan Children program in 2000 at the University of Kansas, looking for a way to use his position and available resources to improve education in Kenya.

‘I came from a school in a village where we struggled to get resources,’ Gitau said. ‘I wanted to give back to my community and help the children in the villages.’

Gitau said his program provides writing materials, helps refurbish schools and works with teachers, especially in the area of special education, in tribal villages of Kenya.

Gitau said he also began a scholarship program to help students from the five schools working with his program afford secondary education.

He said there are about 60 students on full-ride scholarships to secondary schools through his program with two of them headed to universities.


‘I think it’s a story of great success,’ Gitau said. ‘It’s starting to make a difference, one kid at a time.’

John Dively, chairman of the educational leadership department at Eastern Illinois, said he was impressed by Gitau’s program. The award helps show people the importance of international programs, Dively said, by honoring former international students and the efforts they make to give back to the global community.

‘We’re very proud of Peter and all of the accomplishments he has made,’ Dively said. ‘When you hear from people like Peter Gitau and see his life’s journey from Kenya to where he is today … I think it makes not only our universities better and our country better, but it makes our world better.’