Iten, Kenya - It is 5 a.m. Night still has a firm hold on the small community located almost 8,000 feet above sea level along the escarpment of the Rift Valley in western Kenya. Although I have been in Kenya for almost two months traveling, I spent most of the first month in this town where mornings are cold and the views spectacular. Cows, goats and skinny dogs are the African wildlife that roam up here. Although someone usually tends the herds to make sure they move to water and grazing pasture, they are wild if they don't know you. I was almost maimed by a rogue bull that was hired to "mow" my lawn.

A chorus of crowing roosters echoes throughout the blackness as I blindly make my way down a small path. I am heading for a small four-roomed house where a fifteen-year old girl, Risper Rutto, lives. Today is her first day of school - she enters the eighth grade. There is none of the excitement or chaos that I would expect to find on the first day of school. The house is quiet and dark, and most of the nine members of the family are still sleeping. Only the small kitchen emits a warm glow from a lantern. Risper sits on a small stool studying her lessons as her older sister, Winny, pours her tea and makes breakfast.

"I learned good study habits from Winny," says Risper, who is ranked 7th out of the 120 students in her class. "Every morning I wake up at five and study before school."