Dr Elizabeth Itotia, 29

Radiopharmaceutical Scientist

My Story

Elizabeth is Kenya’s first female radiopharmaceutical scientist. Even before she fit in the ‘lady of firsts’ hall of fame, she had earned the honour of being a valedictorian for her undergraduate class.

“I didn’t think I had it in me. My supervisor in the university played a big role in who I am today. She, too, was a valedictorian.”

In the spirit of treading on the same path as her professor and fitting quite well in it, she realised her potential to be spiffing.

But why does she do what she does today?

"I wanted to pursue a career in medicine or a related field after my parents buried one of their friends when I was young."

“I wanted to pursue a career in medicine or a related field after my parents buried one of their friends when I was young. I asked them what killed the person and they told me an incurable disease called cancer. Since then, I was motivated to work hard in school and one day find the cure for cancer.”

Her stars aligned, and after completing her high school studies from Loreto Girls High School, Kiambu, and scoring A, she enrolled at the University of Nairobi to study Bachelor of Pharmacy.

Her university life was not velvety peanut butter, especially after her father’s post-accident paralysis.

“2015 was tough. I had to take pharmacy locum jobs on weekends to survive. Had it not been for my uncle who chipped in, it would have been extremely hard to survive on a shoestring budget. After work, I had to go back to school and read my course work.”

Immediately after university, one of her lecturers nudged her to apply for a scholarship to study Radiopharmaceutical Science offered by the International Atomic Energy Agency in South Africa.

That today she is working at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital at the Cancer Centre is a dream come true.

HELLEN SHIKANDA