Catholic Nun Promoted to Kenyan University First Full Prof. Pledges to Mentor Researchers

Sr. Prof. Agnes Lucy Lando being gowned by the Founder of Daystar of Daystar University, Dr. Donald K. Smith (centre), assisted by Prof. Abraham Waithima (right) and Prof. Michael Bowen (Left) on 24 February 2022. Credit: Daystar University, Corporate Affairs

A Kenyan Catholic Nun who was promoted to the rank of a Nairobi-based university’s first full professor has said that the promotion is an opportunity for her to mentor young researchers.

Sr. Prof. Agnes Lucy Lando became Daystar University’s full professor last month, making the member of the Religious Institute of the Sisters of Mary of Kakamega (SMK) the first don to hold such a position at the institution that was started in Kenya more than 40 years ago.

In a Tuesday, March 1 interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Lando said that the country is in need of credible professors and that she would champion for “innovative and credible scholarship” among students to help them scale academic heights.

“Any country worth its salt needs professors. We need to mentor as many students as possible to take our place in research and academia once we exit the stage,” Sr. Lando said.

The Catholic Nun who serves as the Director of Research and Postgraduate Studies at the university that is headquartered in Nairobi said that the department had already embarked on various advocacy programs with the country’s research regulator, the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI).


She said that Daystar’s engagement with NACOSTI would instill ethics in students undertaking research.

“We are working with NACOSTI to sensitize researchers on the need for innovative and credible scholarship. Research is supposed to go through an ethical process for it to be credible,” Sr. Lando said.

Credit: Daystar University, Corporate Affairs

She added that Daystar University had completed the first phase of the campaign with NACOSTI last year, and that a second conference in partnership with the Kenyan government entity had been slated for September this year.

During the COVID-19 lockdown in Kenya, Sr. Lando also teamed up with the university’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Laban Ayiro to support students who were experiencing difficulties in their research projects.

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“We realized that students were on their own and they were experiencing difficulties in completing their research projects. When we started online remedial classes, we realized that students from all over the world were logging in to ask questions about research process. That’s how we were able to appreciate the fact that research is a global challenge and not just a Kenyan one,” she said.

The Kenyan Catholic Nun told ACI Africa that the February 24 promotion at Daystar University had given her “an overwhelming sense of responsibility.”

“In Scriptures, Jesus says to whom much is given, much is expected,” she said, and added, “I know a lot is expected of my position as Daystar University’s first full professor. I must live the university’s mission and vision. I must embody the spirit of Daystar which is a Christ-centered institution.”

Credit: Daystar University, Corporate Affairs

“I must teach as Jesus taught and behave like Christ himself. I must be there for my students and faculty. It is an immense responsibility and I feel the weight to mentor, the weight of service,” the widely published Kenyan university don said.


She said that in her new capacity, her role will still be to teach, to do research, to do community service and most especially, to mentor students to become researchers.

She acknowledged that there is a scarcity of professors especially in Kenyan universities, and said, “The journey of becoming an associate professor and a full one is not easy. I became an associate professor seven years ago and getting to this level has not been easy. It requires merit. It is based on achievement. It is not a gift.”

The Kenyan scholar said that professorship calls on one to publish widely in reputable journals, to write article and book chapters, to be innovative and to mentor as many other researchers as possible.

The journey, she said, is much harder for Religious Sisters’ additional commitments to institutions outside academia.

“Research is harder for a Religious Sister because we have obligations to the university, to the Church and to the Congregation. When other lecturers wake up at 6 a.m. to head to the university, I wake up at 4 a.m. and head straight to the chapel to pray and to seek spiritual guidance,” she said.

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“I am doing a little more. I have to participate in domestic chores in our community and to take care of other Sisters whenever it is my turn to do so,” Sr. Lando said.

She urged other Religious enrolled in various academic programs to work hard saying that the rest of the society looks upon them for inspiration.

“I encourage other Sisters in the field of academia to work hard since it is doable. Those in school should study within the stipulated time and go back to the vineyard, which is very big, to serve God’s people. Let them not spend too much time in school without graduating,” Sr. Lando whose recent publications include five books, 12 refereed journal articles, and 14 edited book chapters, said.

The Catholic Nun’s publications in 2022 include “Religion and Online Community in African Contexts” by the Oxford University Press, and “The Kenyan Story: From Children’s Talent Performance to Edutainment” by Peter Lang Publishing.

The Kenyan-born Prof. who holds a PhD in Social Communication says that one of her best works is Communication ethics interrogated the disconnect between classroom experience and practice in Christian institutions of higher learning.

She said that while Christian institutions are expected to churn out ethical and professional graduates, this is not always the case.

Credit: Daystar University, Corporate Affairs

In the interview with ACI Africa March 1, Sr. Lando expressed gratitude to the founders of Daystar University who she said were selfless missionaries that left the comfort of their homes in the U.S. to serve Africa.

She also thanked members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) for allowing her to work at the university that is not Catholic.

“The Bishops in Kenya have believed in me and allowed me to practice ecumenism at Daystar. They have allowed me to carry the image of the Catholic Church wherever I go and I thank them for the confidence they have in me,” the SMK member told ACI Africa.

She also expressed gratitude to the leadership of her Congregation saying, “I thank my Superiors General who have released me to Daystar University where I have been since my undergraduate studies. My superiors believe that there is a need at Daystar, which I can address and once the need is addressed, they will allow me to leave.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.