CNN’s Hero of the Year came back to Augustana College Wednesday, January 11th, for the first time since winning the award.

Nelly Cheboi gave a mini-lecture at her alma mater. She spoke about the importance of education and leadership.

Cheboi speaks at a mini-lecture on leadership (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“I’m always so happy to come here and meet the new students,” she said Wednesday.

Cheboi – a 30-year-old native of Kenya – returned Wednesday to her home away from home to speak to students at Augustana about the importance of alumni support and building connections on campus. She graduated in 2016.

“It’s always like it’s been a place where I come when needing support, and just a reminder, this is why I’m doing it. That’s why I keep coming back because there’s always so much celebration, and so when I come, and talk to the students, and I say, ‘you know I was just like you and still just like you, and you can do so much with support.’ “

 Cheboi gained lots of attention after winning CNN’s Hero of the Year award on Dec. 11, 2022. She says that support is still needed to help students in Kenya now and in the future.

“Donating $50 a month can easily get a computer to Kenya. It’s creating jobs and also empowering the students, and so really helping us — a small contribution goes a really long way in supporting our cause,” she said.

Cheboi’s success has touched many people, specifically, two current students from Kenya.

Tracy Okech and Waithira Nganga, sophomores at Augustana, say her success can be summarized by one word: inspirational.

“It’s really nice. It’s a win for the whole country, it’s a win for all of us,” Okech said.

“We love Kenya. We see where Kenya can go we see the vision that many people have and, so to get this education and this exposure and go back and help our country is just something that we want to do,” Nganga said.

Augustana College plans to create an endowment fund for Nelly’s company TechLit Africa.