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Augustana alum nominated for CNN Hero of the Year for teaching tech in Africa

Nelly Cheboi graduated from Augustana in 2016 and began TechLit Africa, going on to teach kids tech skills and set them up for the future.

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — Editor's note: Cheboi won the award! Click/tap here for the update

An Augustana College alum is being honored for her work with TechLit Africa, an organization that teaches kids tech skills.

Nelly Cheboi, originally from Kenya, graduated from Augustana College in 2016 with a degree in computer science and applied mathematics.

"I grew up in a small village in Kenya called Mogotio," Cheboi said. "I grew up in poverty, going to school barefoot, going to bed hungry."

In 2012, she received a scholarship to attend the Quad Cities school, and it was there that her love for computers was born.

"I took an Intro to Java class my third year of college," Cheboi said. "So I was a junior in college, only had one more year of scholarship left and I just fell in love with it."

After graduating, she was inspired to start TechLit Africa, which stands for Technologically Literate Africa. It teaches students ages four through 12 tech skills.

"We're just teaching them how they can leverage the internet," Cheboi said. "They can leverage the economy to make money, how do they build a brand."

The organization currently serves 6,000 students, according to Cheboi. They work with freight and shipping companies for more cost-efficient transport. Augustana donates dozens of computers and monitors to the organization.

"If I can start training them on these skills like software engineering, then maybe they can work remotely for tech companies," Cheboi said.

She's the latest Quad Citizen in contention for the award after Quad City local Chad Pregracke was named CNN's Hero of the Year in 2013.

Cheboi is one of 10 nominees for the honor and voting runs through Tuesday, Dec. 6. You can vote by clicking/tapping here.

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