Until a dream becomes a reality

January 12, 2018
Zennah Kosgey

When plant pathology graduate student Zennah Kosgey dreams about the future of her home country Kenya, she sees a country free of poverty. And she won’t stop pushing herself until that dream becomes a reality.

Kosgey grew up in Turbo, Kenya. Her family grew maize and was also involved with poultry and dairy farming.

“I just grew up loving farming,” she says. “That's what I do every day when I’m back at home. I help my mom and my dad out in the field. I grew up knowing that farming is just part of us.”

Along with that close tie to and love of agriculture came another realization for Kosgey—that farming is an economic backbone of Kenya.

“As I began to better understand the food insecurity issues in my country, and keeping in mind the love I feel for agriculture, it became clear to me I wanted to be among the people who contribute to improving food security.”

Kosgey saw another opportunity to inspire change: increase her knowledge about plant pathology through higher education.

She became a Ph.D. student in plant pathology at the University of Minnesota, researching disease resistance and pathogen diversity to stem rust and Fusarium head blight—two of the most destructive diseases threatening wheat, and areas where the U of M is a leader.

She hopes to become either a research scientist or a professor.

“I have a bright future ahead, and giving up will never be an option for me. I just have to keep going. My future plans and the dreams I have for my country are what motivate me to do what I do every day.”

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A longer form of this story, including a video of Kosgey, originally appeared at Department of Plant Pathology news.