Student Spotlight

Saning'o Sanguyan Kimani

Saning’o Sanguyan Kimani grew up in a small Maasai village in Tanzania. As the eldest son of the chief, Saning’o spent much of his life in the village—known in Africa as a Boma—and before the age of twelve had never seen another village. That was until a chance encounter with Christopher Cerf—the New Jersey Commissioner of Education—provided Saning’o the opportunity to travel to New Jersey and study for two months at the Montclair Kimberley Academy. During his stay, Saning’o lived with the Commissioner and his family in Montclair Township and attended primary school with his son. Even at a young age, Saning’o recalls feeling amazed at the quality of education in America. His relationship with Commissioner Cerf continued after Saning’o returned to Tanzania. When it was time to consider college, Kimani knew exactly who to turn to for advice.


Commissioner Cerf once again opened his doors to Saning’o and suggested Montclair State University for his study. Although Saning’o first enrolled as a Biology student, he quickly shifted his interest to education. Now, as a second-year student, Saning’o has declared a major in Family and Child Studies in the College of Education and Human Services. Saning’o was struck by the emphasis placed on pedagogy in the program at Montclair, particularly the focus on developmental needs of students. He hopes to take what he has learned—and what he will continue to learn—and apply that to the development of a new school for his tribe in Tanzania.


Saning’o hopes to create an education system that uses a curriculum specifically formulated for the cultural needs of the tribe. He believes that English, generally taught in secondary school, should be incorporated into the primary school curriculum along with a more intentional program of study based on the developmental abilities and needs of children. Ultimately, the school will create jobs for the tribe as well as foster a sense of community and inclusiveness. As the future chief, Saning’o hopes to improve the quality of education in his tribe and envisions a village where children and adults alike are committed to the best practices in education.