May 8, 2024

Hailing from Kenya, Theophilus Barasa ALP ‘23 is a committed and driven medical student attending Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya. We are so excited to have him as one of three 2024 Aspire STEAM Fellows.

His passions include leadership, advocacy, and the pediatric specialty. When asked what attracted him to the STEAM fellowship, he emphasized opportunity. “I feel that through this program, I will be able to use this opportunity to pursue research which has impact in [my] field.” he said. “Also through this, I may be able to connect with experts who may give me the skills that I require, and also make connections.” 

Barasa’s STEAM fellowship project revolves around overcrowding in newborn units. He told us about the risks that are associated with crowding and how he plans to tackle it. “One [problem] is because we’ll have instances of infections, and [another problem] is the reduced bonding with the babies and mothers, [because we] interrupt breastfeeding,” he told us.

“So my project is to try to come up with a solution to that. We can [avoid putting] these children in overcrowded settings but hold them for a while, just to see if they will improve.” He explained that by allowing the children to improve they can be sent home. This is opposed to being hyper-proactive and putting the newborns in units they may not need. “I am trying to consider the NBU (Neonatal Units) and make sure that we are not expelling these kids to infections, and we are making sure that they are breastfeeding well.” he explained. “And also the fact that when we crowd our NBU’s, we have banals, we have [what can be] only two doctors in the NBU overseeing over like a hundred babies. So if we can reduce that number, then it will be really, really good.”

He shared with us excitement around pursuing mentors both in and outside of his current community. “I hope to get mentorship from experts around the world,” he told us. “I also hope to make connections with other fellows so that I know how they’re doing in terms of coming up with innovative solutions”.

Barasa discussed with us lots of inspirations around his work and sense of self, despite having faced adversity. He told us that descriptions of being shy, and reserved have impacted him. “Sometimes I have been described as a ‘boy in the corner’.” The Aspire Leaders Program was a stepping stone for him. “What inspires me the most is that actually with just a little bit of effort, I can change everything around me.” he told us. “I [am] able to come up with innovative solutions. [Even though] I come from a limited resource setting; I can come up with innovative solutions to help our situation in my country, even in other areas in Africa and other resource settings.” 

As he moves through the STEAM Fellowship, Barasa loves showing the world what Kenya has to offer. Here at Aspire, we love seeing our alumni continue to impact the worlds from which they come. “So I’m really excited to get on that world-class platform and showcase what I can offer, you know from Kenya to the world.” He explained how this opportunity has provided him with recognition for the change he is making. “What I’m most excited about this year is the fact that I can work on a project [that] can be recognized by not only my faculty in my school but also a wide [audience] from the US, [and] even my fellows from other countries.”

We are ecstatic to hear from Theophilus Barasa and the work he has been doing! Congratulations to him and all of our 2024 STEAM Fellows. We look forward to seeing their continued efforts to make change. 


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