If you don't start, you can't know. So it is with one's trajectory in life and career. They may not follow a foreseeable route but the interconnectedness between your reality and aspirations are what would assure you that you never strayed too far after all. I majored in the sciences as a secondary school student, proceeded to study Microbiology for my first degree, joined the education sector and worked there for three years, and now, I am a full time writer. The 'detouring' couldn't have been predicted from way back, but this is my story.
Aspirations of a Little Girl
Growing up as a kid, my mum painstakingly taught me how to imbibe the habit of reading. She often shared her story about how reading helped her gain mastery of the English language to an advanced, if not proficient level. I soon began reading everything, from short story books to novels, and practically any book I came across. As time went on, reading was not enough, I wanted to write, so I started writing monthly letters to God detailing my experiences during the month. I’d sneak outside to burn the letter and pray for a better month ahead as the smoke from the fire rose up. This became a much treasured routine of my childhood and my first exposure to 'writing.'
Chaos of What Path to Choose in Life
By the time I was due to attend university in 2014, I had flexed my writing muscle to the point where I could write a short play with three Acts. Then, I wasn't thinking about making a career out of writing. What was on my mind was how to study Medicine and help my mother get the education that she couldn't get, a compensation many African mothers deem worthy of their lifetime sacrifice. Medicine, it is. Until it wasn't. So I "wasted my brilliance" (guess who would say that) on studying Microbiology instead. The turn around came on December 24, 2017 when I got an email that would change my life forever. The mail was from Working to Advance African Women (WAAW) Foundation, and it had stated that I had been selected, alongside 4 others, for their 2017 scholarship award. My yuletide was made, and my career trajectory re-routed.
The Paths That Chose Me
As a WAAW fellow and scholar, I soon learned and embraced how to execute community-driven programs, and this is where the seed of my teaching skill was planted. With the implementation of the S.T.E.M Outreach and Mentoring Cell at my University, I was able to impact about 1,000 secondary school students and 5 teachers across 3 schools within 2 years. Doing this helped me hone my leadership skills, as I led my team for every outreach program we went for; teaching skills as I transfer skills I've learned from resources and trainings to the students; and storytelling skill, as I shared what I was doing with my network on social media. From here, my love for writing was re-ignited and I started taking my personal brand seriously. This further gave me exposure to more opportunities and prospective clients who would later hire me for their writing projects. After my graduation in 2018 and the completion of my national service in 2020, I joined Teach for Nigeria as a Fellow to stop education inequity in Nigeria. And for the next two years of my life, I worked with almost a hundred kids in an underserved community who were nevertheless always eager and ready to learn. In December 2022, the founder of WAAW Foundation reached out to me with an offer to deliver articles for her sister company, Herbal Goodness. Dr Unoma Okoraofor is laudable for being able to make a wave in two different sectors — Education and Health — and for doing it so well. Her story on how she continues to dedicate 10% from Herbal Goodness' profits back into WAAW Foundation to support more African girls is intriguing. What's more exciting? I get to feature in these two organizations by deploying two entirely different yet wholesome skills that I've heavily invested in over the years: writing and teaching.
Getting Clarity and Doing More
Many people love to define people's perception of their personal brand, so I choose to be called the writer who teaches. Last December, I concluded my fellowship with Teach for Nigeria and got a new job as a full time writer in Lagos. I may have left the four walls of the classroom temporarily, but I am still teaching and imparting knowledge to others through non-formal platforms till date. Shouldn't I add that I've also become a Mentor at WAAW Foundation? Giving back has never had a greater meaning to me. Guess this is why I also jumped at the offer when Dr. Okoraofor asked me to write for Herbal Goodness. This is my typical life as a writer who teaches, and I am enjoying every single bit of it because I've also discovered that good things happen to me in December.