Gideon Kilonzo 

The pursuit of education has encompassed my whole life.

Growing up in rural Kalawa, Kenya I was not aware that I was experiencing my formative years in a poor community. From my young perspective I had the world at my doorstep … a world of caring parents in a large family, the adventure and freedom a young boy longs for to explore amidst farmland, livestock, and chores.

Underlying these riches there were also times of not enough to eat, one outfit of clothing that needed to be washed nightly for the next day, and the inability of my parents to pay school fees for myself and my siblings. 

Despite the challenges my parents faced they ensured that we remained in school. At the age of about eleven I began taking on small jobs around the community to earn money that I would give to my father to help with school fees. While aware of this need, I was not aware of the weight my parents must have carried.

Eventually I attended my first two years of high school in the capital city of Nairobi. This is where I became exposed to new ideas, libraries, and opportunities. I began to learn about education abroad and researched these possibilities.

I secured a scholarship to come to the United States … Canton, South Dakota to finish my high school education.

I went on to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Education, a Master of Arts in Guidance and Counseling, a Specialist Degree in Educational Psychology, and a Doctoral Degree in Higher Education.

In addition, I am a senior faculty with the William Glasser Institute for Choice Theory.


Within the past 44 years I have taught at universities and colleges both in the US and Kenya. I also worked extensively as a school counselor, K-12, both in Kenya and with the public school system in the US. For thirteen of these 44 years my family lived in Kenya (1988-2001). During this time my wife Paula and I founded and directed a private school (K-14) in Nairobi.

It is during this period in Kenya that my father made a comment that has lived with me …  “Children in Kalawa need a good school like this, too.” This comment was made upon his visiting our school in the city and observing how the students were engaging with their teachers and the learning environment.

Since retiring in 2021 our plans center around being more in Kenya and developing St. Joseph’s Academy. Our hope and dream are to fulfill my father’s vision of education opportunities through exposure and enrichment in the rural community of Kalawa.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

           ~ Nelson Mandela

I feel the pursuit of education has not only encompassed my life but has come full circle.