Tracy Ouko can easily pass for a girl in her late teens, or even a young woman aged 20 years.
So confident, composed, and articulate is the 13-year-old that she has not only learnt to mingle with adults but intimately shares her passion for her pet subject — nutrition.
Tracy was identified as a gifted and talented child five years ago and was accelerated from Class Three to Form One.
“A psychometric test revealed that my daughter was exceptionally good in nutrition and her knowledge was above that of her age mates,” Prof Humphrey Oborah, her father, told Saturday Nation on Friday.
Her interest in the subject prompted her parents to take her through the psychometric test.
“She would ask lots of questions, was a keen observer and analyst and excelled in her studies with little effort,” Prof Oborah said.
“I developed an interest in food and its nutritive value when I was seven,” says Tracy, now a Form Four student at Millennium Academy.
She says the more she researched, the more she thirsted for knowledge in the field.
Tracy is one of 325 children in East Africa who are part of the African Council for Gifted and Talented Children, an organisation that nurtures and appreciates extraordinary ability.
According to Prof Oborah, the children do not necessarily have to be gifted academically only. Dexterity in skills like singing, playing the piano or sports are some of the talents identified.
“If you notice a unique skill in your child, nurture it,” he advised parents, guardians, and teachers.
However, Prof Oborah said one of the challenges facing learning institutions in the country and region is a system to identify gifted children due to restrictions on access to educational and psychological assessment to determine IQ.
“I want to be a nutrition manager to solve malnutrition cases,” says Tracy.
However, all has not been rosy for the adolescent. “The girls were older than me but we were almost the same body size,” she said.
“Making new friends was even harder but they were helpful and I settled in pretty fast,” she added.
Tracy says that although she is seven years younger than her classmates, academic work was a common factor they shared, making school more interesting.
Tracy is preparing for her O-level examination and looks forward to assisting in finding solutions to under-nourishment in the near future.