Soldiers enlist into the military for many different reasons: to uphold a family tradition, to find adventure or maybe for educational benefits.
For Sgt. Michael K. Biwott, a supply specialist with 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, enlisting into the Army was about so much more, including his dream of running track or cross country in the U.S. Olympics.
Before raising his right hand and enlisting into the Army more than two years ago, Biwott’s journey first began in his native homeland, Kenya, with his family of five sisters and one brother.
Coming from a large family living in an isolated and poor community, Biwott said he was lucky to have a father who understood the importance of an education and who encouraged his children to go to school.
“Education in Kenya is not free,” explained Biwott. “Parents have to pay tuition for their kids to attend elementary and high school.”
For those lucky enough to afford and make it all the way through high school, getting into a college is just as hard. Much like American students who must take the Scholastic Aptitude Test to get into college, those in Kenya must take the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination.
The students who don’t make a high enough score are unable to attend college, explained Biwott.
Despite his own financial struggle to pay for school, Biwott managed to graduate from high school. However, he was left feeling disappointed after taking the Kenya Certification of Secondary Education exam.
“I missed it by three points,” Biwott explained about his score.
This was not the end for Biwott. Armed with his high school education, he became a teacher for elementary students. Biwott explained that most high school graduates often become the teachers for elementary and high schools.
“I loved teaching,” he said. “I taught math for seventh and eighth grades. Most of the students who I taught would make high marks on their exams,” Biwott said.
While Biwott loved teaching, he was still determined to attend college.
When the opportunity came to try out for a new athletic scholarship program, which would allow him to attend college in America while training and competing as a marathon runner, he took it.
“I showed up to the competition with no training. It was the first time I had ever ran like that and I came in second place,” Biwott said about racing against 50 other competitors for the scholarship.
“After that, running became a part of me,” Biwott said. “I love it and it’s what got me here to America.”
It was Biwott’s love for running that helped him achieve his college diploma. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Biwott said that he wanted to pay it forward by joining the Army as a supply specialist.
“I wanted to give back to the country which has given me so much,” said Biwott.
Biwott said that serving in the Army has not diminished his love for running at all. In fact, it has grown and evolved into a dream. A dream of running track or cross country in the U.S. Olympics.
With this new dream, Biwott said he trains harder. Running at least 60 miles a week- that’s in addition to his daily physical training he does with his unit every morning.
He also competes in marathons any chance he gets and has placed tenth in the Army Ten-Miler and Marine Corps Marathon.
Sgt. Shannera Anderson, a supply sergeant with 2nd Sqdn. and Biwott’s supervisor, said Biwott’s drive is an inspiration. She believes he can do anything he puts his mind to.
“Biwott is like a light at the end of a tunnel,” Anderson said. “It shows you that no matter where you come from or how you start, you can overcome anything with work and the right attitude.”
Anderson said Biwott works like he trains, and he is, “the epitome of what a Soldier should be.”
Despite still being 30 seconds short from qualifying for the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, Biwott said that he will keep training.
“Everywhere I go, people are always impressed with my running and encourage me to do more,” Biwott said.
Biwott recently competed against 26 other runners in Fort Hood’s Army Ten-Miler in the hopes of making it on the team again and he was the only runner to come in under an hour.
His advice to others who think their own dreams may be impossible is to, “Keep trying and never give up.”
“I will keep trying, no matter what,” Biwott said. “This is my passion.”