I hope to become a professor before I turn 40
What you need to know:
- Dr Susan Mambo is the chair of Department of Environmental Health & Disease Control at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
- Her passion for public health informed her undergraduate course where she studied Environmental Health at the Kenyatta University between 2004 and 2008.
- Dr Mambo also serves as a director for the Women Advancement for Economic Leadership Empowerment.
At the age of 31, Dr Susan Mambo had on her sleeves credit for leading to full accreditation the only accredited university by the Public Health officers and Technicians’ council (PHOTC) to offer Bachelor of Science in Public Health.
That was three years ago when she served as chairperson of the Environmental Health Department at Mt Kenya University.
Currently, she is the chair of Department of Environmental Health & Disease Control at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), a post she has held for two years, making her among the youngest women to make departmental head in a top public university.
Dr Mambo’s passion for public health informed her undergraduate course where she studied Environmental Health at the Kenyatta University between 2004 and 2008.
She then enrolled for a Masters in Public Health 2011 at the same university, graduating in July 2014, before enrolling for her doctorate in September the same year.
In 2018, she was conferred with a doctorate degree in health systems management from Kenya Methodist University, becoming one of the only two doctoral graduates in health systems in Kenya at that time.
The mother of three has been a sensation coveted by many organisations both local and international due to her expertise in disease control as well as public health.
With her extensive academic background in public health and more than 10 years’ experience in the field, she was appointed to the position in 2019 shortly after joining JKUAT.
From delivery of academic programs, to leading research, community diagnosis, management of communicable and non-communicable diseases, Dr Mambo is tasked with overseeing and guiding the faculty as well as the students in her department.
Her department is also charged with grant writing where they pitch for funding from local and international donors to support their work.
They also lead in community diagnosis, which include visiting communities and educating them on matters public health.
She is the major link between the university and the regulatory body of courses in public health and very passionate about youth empowerment, mentorship and career guidance.
Her passion for youth matters saw her get appointed as an independent director in the Board for the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF).
As a member of the board, she plays an oversight role on the delivery of business opportunities and funding of various products to the youth, scrutinises audit reports and offers advice on what needs to be done to ensure better services.
“We recently developed a strategic plan, which will guide YEDF up to 2024. We also ensure a satisfactory audit of all the projects of the youth fund,” she says.
Dr Mambo also serves as a director for the Women Advancement for Economic Leadership Empowerment (WAELE) where women are sensitised on their roles in the community.
“We visit women and teach them on matters of economic empowerment, leadership opportunities, mental health and general wellbeing. Further, we link them up with funding agencies such as the Women Enterprise Fund and the Youth fund,” she says.
In 2016, Dr Mambo worked as the chair of the environmental health department in Mt Kenya University where she led the department to its full accreditation by the Public Health officers and Technicians’ Council. It is the only university with full accreditation in the country.
The health expert is always at her office by 9am ready for meetings or lectures she has to attend to.
“For me, planning is key. Consistency, focus as well as resilience are my main menu. I have a schedule and I do my best to stick to it,” she explains.
“I wake up at 4am to read, write and catch up with my studies for continuous professional development or any pending work,” she adds.
By 6am, the mother of three prepares her children for school with the help of her house manager before leaving her house in Nyeri by 7am. She gets to her Nairobi office by 9am.
“During the day, I engage my students, attend any university and departmental meetings, handle community diagnosis, capacity building, giving health talks and any other meeting I may have before leaving for home at 5pm,” she says.
Dr Mambo says she keeps a schedule for her family as well to ensure everything is done on time.
“I always make time to hang out with my family because they come first,” she says.
She is nevertheless committed to ensuring she leaves a legacy. She hopes she will rise and become dean, deputy vice-chancellor and eventually vice-chancellor.
“Prof Olive Mugenda, former VC at Kenyatta University is my mentor. I also learn a lot from my vice chancellor Prof Victoria Ngumi, and I aspire to get to where they have gotten. I also hope to become a professor before I turn 40,” she says.
"I am also inspired by Michelle Obama in this journey of “becoming” because I believe if you focus, you surely become," Dr Mambo adds.
Born the only girl in a family of six, she believes in creating networks and friendships that work because support system is key to a woman’s leadership cocktail.