From a young age, Peter Mugo’s mother stressed to him the value of hard work and education. Mugo would see his mother walk four hours from their small village in Kenya to the market to sell the family’s crops. As he saw her struggle, Mugo developed a career plan based on her principles.

“I decided that I was going to become somebody,” Mugo says, “I wanted to give hope to my siblings and kids in my village.”

At first, Mugo worked at a construction company, where he discovered engineering. However, he knew it would be difficult for him to advance his education and career working and living in Kenya. Mugo decided he needed to pursue his dream in America.

“When you want something badly enough, you take risks to make it happen,” says Mugo.

He struggled during his first months in his new country. With limited English-speaking ability, he suffered from culture shock. He lived in a homeless shelter using the little savings he had to support his family and pay for college.

“When you’re in a place like that place, there’s a lot of doubt,” reflects Mugo. “Sometimes, you don’t know if you can do it. But you have to know when to ask for help.”

His life took a turn for the better when he became a mechanical engineering student at WSU Everett. There, he received support and encouragement from faculty and staff. They helped him find grants that made his education possible and connected him to other international students. Additionally, the campus’ location allowed him to work two jobs while studying full time.

“Life is like engineering,” Mugo says, “If you can find new ways to solve the problem, work hard and never quit trying, you can succeed.”

This past summer, Mugo worked as an intern, assembling parts for Boeing aircraft wings. The entire experience was more than he could have ever imagined. Having the opportunity to work with professionals in the field makes him excited for a future career as a mechanical engineer.

Seeing the results of his hard work has made the adversity he has faced worthwhile.

“When I am sitting close to the wing, it feels like I am in a dream,” Mugo says.