The Honorary Title of Doctor of Science

At University of Aberdeen’s graduation ceremonies on June 22, 2018, Professor Ruth Khasaya Oniang’o, a pioneering expert in nutrition and food science was bestowed with the honorary title of Doctor of Science. This prestigious recognition marked the culmination of decades of tireless dedication to alleviating poverty and hunger in Africa. Professor Ruth, the inaugural Professor in Nutrition in Kenya, stood before graduates, families, and faculty, embodying a lifelong commitment to making a difference at Elphinstone Hall.

Her link to Scotland, she stressed, wasn't just an online connection; it was profoundly grounded in personal experience. Recalling her early years, she shared, "My two principals in my intermediate school and high school were missionaries from Scotland. They really instilled values in me – they helped me to recognize what I could be good at." These early influences shaped her perspective and fuelled her determination to address pressing challenges with resilience and compassion.

As a member of Kenya's ninth parliament, Ruth reflected on her impactful legislative contributions during the ceremony. She emphasized introducing a bill to tackle drought and famine, showcasing commitment to both theoretical advancements and practical solutions. Her words resonated, highlighting a deep link between academia and social responsibility.

Quoting Ruth's inspiring words, she encouraged the graduating class, "When you see a challenge, you must turn it into an opportunity. You must show respect for your fellow human beings, regardless of the colour of their skin, or their religion, or their gender." This captures the core of her life's work — a strong belief in education's power and a profound sense of responsibility to humanity.

Ruth's nutrition career stemmed from firsthand experiences with malnutrition, impacting both her life and the lives of numerous children. Recalling her early aspirations in medicine, she explained, "I had felt the hunger pangs myself, even though my mother had tried her best, and I had seen children who could not walk because their tummies were so big from malnutrition." This realization fueled her relentless pursuit of addressing core issues in food and nutrition.

Beyond legislation and academia, her influence reaches countless lives in Africa. Her advocacy for food security, poverty reduction, and hunger alleviation has touched communities at the grassroots level. By embodying the principles, she advocates, she has become an inspiration for those working towards positive societal change.

Congratulating graduates, Ruth urged them to surpass degree boundaries and embrace continuous discovery and service commitment. Her call to action, "Don’t be satisfied with what you have achieved today – look ahead, discover, and find new opportunities," serves as a rallying cry for future nutrition experts to continue pushing boundaries and making meaningful contributions to the world.

University of Aberdeen honored Professor Ruth Oniang'o with a Doctor of Science degree, recognizing her academic achievements and celebrating her lifelong dedication to improving the well-being of African communities. Her story inspires, emphasizing that seeking knowledge should be coupled with a sense of responsibility and a sincere drive for positive change.