Election Profile | Steve Kiplagat
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 04:10
Name: Steve Kiplagat
Major: Graduate student; master’s degree in statistics
Hometown: Formerly from Iten, Kenya
Party: Democrat (Unable to vote)
Presidential Choice: Barack Obama (Unable to vote)
As a teenager living in Kenya, Steve Kiplagat was no stranger to American politics. Four years later as a Miami University graduate student, he is arguably more informed than most students.
“I have always had an interest in politics,” said Kiplagat. Despite not being able to vote in the upcoming election, he remains eager to follow the voting this November.
Born Steve Kipkosgei Kiplagat, he was raised in Iten, a small town of just 4,000 residents in the west, central part of Kenya. After receiving high marks throughout his primary and secondary schooling, he was approached to attend an American university offering international opportunities for foreign students.
“I never once doubted my decision to come to the U.S.,” he recalled.
With bags packed, a curious and eager Kiplagat departed for St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY at the age of 19. This expedition marked his first time traveling outside of his home country. Wasting no time upon arrival, he soon declared a double major in economics and math and made the varsity cross country squad as a freshman.
Only months after Kiplagat’s arrival stateside in 2008, the first non-Caucasian president took office in the White House. Many people in Kenya knew of Barack Obama and followed his campaign up until the historic inauguration. However, the entire process of selecting candidates from multiple political parties, as Kiplagat recalls, was at first confusing.
“In Kenya, politics are crazy,” said Kiplagat. “As celebrities, they likely fund their campaigns through corruption.”
Finding himself surrounded by a majority of democratic voters on the East Coast, Kiplagat described his political encounters as eye opening.
“In regards to religion and politics, my household was very conservative,” he explained. He continued to recall a profound liberal experience during which he attended the wedding of a gay couple.
Now residing in Oxford, Kiplagat spends his time on a very tight schedule. When he is not pounding out miles of intervals on the trails, he is busy interviewing for jobs and pursuing a master’s degree in statistics.
As a previous Division III All-American distance runner, Kiplagat now holds one of the fastest 8-kilometer times in school history.
“Steve is a wonderful addition to our squad and has fit in well with the team and our training program,” said senior captain Jarrod Eick.
Junior cross-country runner David Wing agreed with Eick, saying, “I admire Steve for his talent and aggressiveness during races.”
When asked about the youth vote on Miami’s campus, Kiplagat explained that he often senses a pattern between the political identification of parents and the subsequent voting decisions of their children. Even while living on a traditionally conservative campus, he articulated a gradual liberal transformation as an American resident.
“I am very interested in politics and have asked Steve about his views on the election during practice,” said first-year Joseph Stewart. To keep updated on the election, Kiplagat tunes into presidential debates and other news channels. Now living in a highly publicized swing state, he finds it hard not to take an interest in campaigning and any resulting controversy.
While looking forward to returning home sometime in the future, Kiplagat now sets his sights on obtaining full time employment here in the Midwest. “Steve is a very smart individual and has positioned himself well in his career search,” said senior teammate Brett Wagner.