Professor gives back to overseas schools

Austin Sanderfield, Lamp writer

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Peter Embalabala didn’t know much about the United States at 21 years old and arrived for school in Michigan.

The LLCC math professor left Kenya to study at Spring Arbor University. He was given $37 and the three plane tickets necessary to make the trip from Kenya.

“I loved math growing up, and both of my parents pushed the importance of it, along with biology”, Embalabala said.

Embalabala has been teaching mathematics at Lincoln Land since 1991. In addition to teaching at Lincoln Land, he still supports people in his home country of Kenya, sponsoring a student to attend the Vihiga Boy’s High School, a boarding school in Kenya that Embalabala attended.

Embalabala came to the United States through the Private International Program. When he arrived, classes had been going on for two weeks, so he was behind in his classes. Embalabala didn’t major in mathematics at first; he majored in business and minored in mathematics. He realized later that business wasn’t for him and stuck with math.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mathematics, he attended Central Michigan University to pursue his master’s degree. Embalabala taught math there for three years before getting let go for budgetary reasons.

Luckily, a year before, he applied for a teaching job at Lincoln Land, and the day he was let go at Central Michigan he got a call from LLCC to set up an interview.

Embalabala said he had to do a lot during the interview to see if he was qualified for the job.

Embalabala said that as the chairman walked him to his car after the interview, the chair asked, “What if I offered you the job right now?”

“I have to ask my wife first,” Embalabala responded.

Before he could even ask his wife, Julie, they had already called her, and she accepted the job for him.

Embalabala has eight children, seven of whom attended Lincoln Land.

Twenty-nine years later, Embalabala is still working and teaching like it’s his first year.

“Peter always has a positive attitude at all times, and he’s constantly running somewhere,” said Jennifer O’Malley, professor of biology.

Lincoln Land isn’t the only place that Embalabla is making an impact on people’s lives. He also does a lot for his community back in Kenya. He has donated to orphanages and schools by giving them food, books, and supplies. Embalabala also sponsors kids that don’t have the funds to move on from 8th grade to high school.

In Kenya, a lot of students don’t get to go to high school because their families can’t afford books, uniforms, bedding and food. A few years ago, Embalabala and his wife contacted the principal of the Kidinye Primary School, a school in the Vihiga District in Kenya, and asked for a report of the top five students in the school.

The reports contain the biographies and family histories of the kids. After reading the reports, they then interview the kids and meet their parents. They decide which one to sponsor based on their potential, and that’s how they decided to sponsor Domonic Onzere.

“I want them to go to boarding school because I want their lives to be dedicated to school,” Embalabala said.

Because of that, Embalabala pays an annual fee of $700 to make sure Domonic stays in school. That money covers books, bedding, clothes and food for the school year at Vihiga Boy’s High School.

Embalabala is a pretty popular figure at Kidinye Primary School because of his donations and charitable actions. Embalabala even has his name engraved in the local church by helping fund the retiling of the church. His selflessness is not going unrecognized.

“He is always willing to help anyone in need and his students feel the same way about him”, said Samantha Reif, professor of geology.

Emabalabala plans to continue to help his community and others back in Kenya for years to come. People who are trying to get involved with the sponsoring process themselves have asked him for guidance.