The name Sandra Hawi Mboya may not ring a bell just yet, but it speaks of a tall ambition. At only 22, the up-and-coming model has her eyes fixed on a career that is bound to take her places. Her passion for fashion, modelling, and design is unwavering.

Just like many other models, both local and international, the 2019 Rongo University graduate believes the industry is promising. She is particularly happy about the new direction it is taking in the increasingly technological world. Today, 6th September, I sat her down for a conversation in Nairobi on her hopes and aspirations, and to reflect on where it all began.

PHOTO/ Sandra

Why and how did you start modelling?

I always knew that I had the looks for it, and I believed in myself. Professionally, I started in 2016, when I first took part in the Miss Rongo University pageant and finished as the second runner-up. However, this is something that I had been interested in since I was a little girl. Later, I also realised that I could help inspire fellow young women and men and make a difference in their lives.

Sandra Mboya exuding confidence on the catwalk: PHOTO/ Sandra

What has changed since you started? 

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We have different types of modelling. There are, for instance, high fashion and pageantry. I like to speak about pageantry because that is where I have been involved so much. Well, pageantry has changed so much. I would say things have been changing for the worse over time because it’s about who you know, and the bribery of adjudicators at such events. This denies a lot of up-and-coming talent and promising beauty pageant participants an opportunity to showcase their ability. I can say corruption is slowly but gradually sinking the industry.

We need to encourage openness and high-fashion brands should also work better in nurturing models.

What was one of your most frustrating or disappointing experiences while modelling?

I have experienced two frustrations. One happened in early 2018, when I was participating in the Miss Rongo University pageant. The thing is that the results were predetermined. The organizers had their interest in the competition to the extent that one of them had the guts to tell me that I wouldn’t make it. Funny enough, though, I won the competition. Another happened the same year in November, in a competition of Miss Rongo constituency. We did not receive our awards.

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Stylish Sandra Mboya showing how it;s done: PHOTO/Sandra

What was one of your most gratifying experiences in modelling?

The best experience I’ve had so far was in 2019, when I attended the Kisumu Fashion Week and got to learn something that really shaped my desire for fashion design. I learnt about crotchet-making and that is how I fell in love with design.

Who is your Kenyan role model?

My favourite Kenyan model is Nivea Debra Amondi, Miss Environment Kenya 2018. I love her personality and the way she handles herself. She’s just elegant and motivates me a lot.

Have you won any international awards?

Currently not, but I believe the time is coming and I shall bag those awards.

What are your hobbies, and favourite meal?

I generally love traveling, reading novels and eating. By the way, I eat everything but I love ugali and some kienyeji, so don’t worry about me when I pay you a visit.

Apart from modelling, what else do you do?

I am a teacher by profession. I studied education at university, majoring in Biology and Agriculture. I teach at Makarangwe High School in Kuria, Migori County. I also practise crotchet-making in my free time because I just love designing so much.

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Are you single or married?

Huh! I am single right now because I believe it is the right time to build myself before thinking of any relationship.

What advice do you have for someone just starting out?

Create a plan for yourself and follow your heart. Chasing your dreams and always remember that becoming successful isn’t easy. You need to be grounded and have a strong mind. Go overboard with your work and let creativity speak for you.

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Kassim Mohammed

Kassim is a proactive communicator with the desire of impacting lives through telling stories. Let's connect through my social networks: @kassim_mohamed7 on twitter and Instagram and Kassim Mohammed on Facebook. Email me at or