Air Force

August 1, 2014

Life, Liberty, pursuit of happiness brings Kenyan student to America

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Airman 1st Class PEDRO MOTA
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Senior Airman Robert Cheruiyot, 56th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician, greets Gen. Julius Waweru Karangi, chief of the defense forces, Kenya. Karangi and Cheruiyot met in a chance encounter at flightline medicine, following Karangi’s medical evaluation in preparation for his familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Luke Air
Force Base.

Most Americans understand prosperity and success can be achieved through hard work. It is also known as the American dream.

One Airman sacrificed being with his family in Kenya to achieve the American dream.

Senior Airman Robert Cheruiyot, 56th Medical Operations Squadron medical technician, was born and raised in Kericho, Kenya, where he worked and lived on a farm with his family.

“My homeland is in the highland part of the country where the main economic activity is farming,” he said. “Our family’s farm raised cattle, goats, sheep and poultry, and also harvested crops, with tea being the main cash crop.”

Kenya is also home to some of the world’s best long-distance runners. Cheruiyot was also a good runner in his hometown. He ran in high school and college in Kenya before receiving a scholarship to a university in America. He decided to cross the Atlantic Ocean to start a new life in America.

“I moved in August 2009 to Florida after securing academic and athletic scholarships,” he said. “Surprisingly, while I was running cross country and studying mathematical sciences, I was selected for the 2010 green card lottery.”

When the opportunity came for him to change his status from being an international student to a permanent resident, Cheruiyot started making plans to become a citizen.

Cheruiyot learned it takes five years to acquire citizenship with a green card, so he decided to join the military to speed up the process.

“I chose the Air Force because of its good benefits, and I had heard it was the least stressful of all the branches of military,” Cheruiyot said. “ I have no family in this country, except for a cousin in Hawaii, so time flies by as I serve and make money to send back home.”

Cheruiyot is now finishing his education.

“Once I complete my degree I’m going to pursue becoming an officer, but if that falls through I’ll do business.”

Unexpectedly, Cheruiyot ran into Gen. Julius Waweru Karangi, Kenya’s chief of the defense forces, while he was dropping off equipment at the flightline medicine building.

“I can’t say it made me miss home, but it felt nice to talk to him in our native Kiswahili language,” he said.




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