What you need to know:
I am trying to create a platform where young people can use art to express themselves and discuss mental health issues.
I think many do not embrace therapy because there is a false perception that speaking with a counsellor is a sign of weakness.
I believe everyone has a gift that can be used to shape Kenya’s future.
Wabaiya Kariuki is a 23-year-old Actuarial Science graduate from Daystar University with a great love for music. She is also an advocate of mental health awareness among the youth in Kenya. Oh, she is also a high fashion and commercial model who represented Kenya at the Global Miss Universe stage in 2018.
1. Why did you choose to study Actuarial Science?
When I was young I really enjoyed mathematics, but it was almost impossible for me to get accepted to do the course since I had only studied up to Year 11. All schools required me to have completed my A-levels. I finally got accepted at Daystar, and I was happy to take the challenge.
2. You frequently wear local brands such as Dhana Vito on the runway. How do you choose what products to showcase?
I like working with brands that celebrate who I am. Those that reflect my true personality. Dhana Vito allowed me to model with her jewellery on but without wearing any make up, and that allowed me to do the job while in my natural skin. I also appreciate brands that don’t force me to compromise my Christian values.
3. Tell us about your involvement in generating conversations about mental health. Why do you think many young people are reluctant to go to therapy?
I am trying to create a platform where young people can use art to express themselves and discuss mental health issues. I think many do not embrace therapy because there is a false perception that speaking with a counsellor is a sign of weakness. The first step in solving any problem is to recognise that there is a problem, therefore, seeking help or advice from a professional is just an admission that there is a problem that needs to be tackled, and that is one step closer to recovery.
4. Who are you modelling for at the moment? What was it like to represent Kenya on such a large stage?
I am not modelling for any brand at the moment. Representing Kenya was everything I thought it would be. It was both terrifying and exciting, but it was definitely a moment of pride that I will never forget.
5. How do you think young Kenyans can participate in shaping Kenya's future?
I believe everyone has a gift that can be used to shape Kenya’s future. For example, if every young Kenyan decides to plant one tree every month, we will have played a big role in conserving the environment and creating a better future.