Ahhh I can’t believe the end of the series is here…I would like to use this opportunity to THANK every one of for reading, liking, sharing and even commenting on my articles. It means so much to me.
To end this series, I present to you Brenda Chiuneme McWilson-Okorogba. Trust me she is someone you would want to follow on social media and even have conversations with. I am glad to call her friend…Such a breath of fresh air and a blessing to today’s youth…a go-getter and an inspiration! I could not have picked anyone else to wrap up this project. Read along, I am confident you will LOVE it.
What is your name and what university did you attend?
My name is Brenda McWilson-Okorogba. I attended the University of Manitoba, Canada.
What year did you graduate and what course did you offer?
I completed my studies in 2016 with a BSc. In Psychology and Biological Sciences (Cell Molecular/Developmental Biology). I also have an advanced diploma in Business Management and Entrepreneurship.
Briefly describe how your university life; any extracurricular activities you were involved, scholarships, awards/ honors etc.
My university life was full of good experiences including some tough moments. I did lots of volunteer work at different organizations most especially promoting mental health, access to quality education for youths, some works on andragogy and critical pedagogy, sexual and reproductive health, food security and food sovereignty, poverty alleviation, promoting job accessibility for youths, addressing ableism and other forms of -isms that are discriminatory against people. As for awards, I am privileged to say I got some awards including bursaries and scholarships from my university and outside the uni. I am grateful for having a good university life.
Based on your experience in university, do you regret going to university or did you regret at a point? If so why?
I enjoyed my university experience as a student because of the opportunities that were readily available and accessible to me. I had the opportunity of traveling to El Salvador and Belize to teach young Maya students about food security and food sovereignty. It was such a beautiful experience for me. I learned a lot from the Q’qechi Maya people of Belize. I also had the opportunity of being an international student mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students via the international center of students (ICS) at the University of Manitoba. I really don’t have any regret going to the university.
Upon graduation, did you have any plans as to what your next move was? Could you please share?
Yes, I already had a career development plan prior to my graduation. First is to get my permanent residence so I can continue my studies till post-doc in Neuropsychology or Cognitive Neuroscience at a good Canadian university and utilize every scholarship opportunity. Another plan is to get meaningfully engaged in advocacy works with the focus on mental health, education, and youth empowerment.
Based on the answer from the question above, did these plans materialize in the short term or even long term? If it did what was the process like? If not, what happened? Did you have any backup plans?
I am the process of getting my permanent status here in Canada and yes I have been meaningfully engaged in advocacy work and various youth empowerment programs. The best and most fulfilling thing for me is being able to have a business plan for my mental health and education-focused organization called Ephphatha Transformation Academy (ETA). It will be officially registered in Canada this Summer.
In the case where you faced rejections especially in applying for jobs etc, what effect did it have on your person? Care to share any experiences if you had one?
Well if I don’t get any response after a job interview, I just send the HR an email to know if I am to expect a feedback or not. If I still don’t get any response, I just move on with my life and think of what next to do. I always make sure I edit my resume and LinkedIn profile all the time. Write down cover letters for any job positions I intend to apply to and tweak when it is time to submit my application. I make sure I do the following R’s——- Rethink, Restrategize, Reposition, Redo and Relearn and Redirect myself towards achieving my set goals. I also ensure the following C’s—- Care, Compassion and Celebration.
If you were to be that 18/19-year-old going back to university, knowing what you know now (irrespective of how many years after university) what advice will you give yourself? Any advice to others?
Always have some set goals and work towards achieving those goals. Never follow the crowd and make sure you utilize any good opportunity that comes your way whether scholarships, bursaries, travel grants, internships, jobs and volunteer opportunities. Feel free to ask questions from the right people, go out of your comfort zone to network with others, and always adjust your crown every day you wake up (let your daily cosmetics be self-love, honesty, integrity, authenticity, self-appreciation, healthy self-esteem and befriend yourself).
With the current state of the job market, do you think in like 10 years time, universities will still have value? Especially with the rate at which many graduates end up being unemployed or young people prefer to start their businesses or train in apprenticeships?
I think university degrees will still be relevant although many schools are trying to change their curriculum and focus more on critical pedagogy and experiential learning so that students can become inventors, trailblazers, innovators and wealth and job generators.
What do you do now in terms of work or any other thing you are involved, care to share your social media handles so people could connect with you?
I currently work as a mental health crisis intervention specialist for an organization here in Manitoba and as a director of strategic partnership and grant writer for STEMHub Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Ontario, Canada. My side hustles are: Hair braiding, Ghost-writing, Grant writing, Academic writing, CV/Cover Letter/SoP/Scholarship Essay writing, and I host workshops on mental health. I passionately use my Twitter to share opportunities to youths across the globe and I am a professional scholarship search strategist promoting SDG4.
Please follow Brenda on LinkedIn and Facebook. Keep with her on Twitter EnablerofVision. Trust me…She is doing a lot to promote education by sharing loads of opportunities (scholarships, youth programmes etc) and as young people, this is something we need to discover our purposes and be agents of change in our societies.
Again, a HUGE thanks to you all for your support. Massive thanks to the 20 ladies who also agreed to share their stories on this platform. Without you, there will be no diaries to share. I will share my thoughts on this project in the next blog post. Happy Sunday and an amazing week to Y’all! God Bless!