What does happiness mean to you? Is it quantifiable? Can you put a dollar value to this strong sense of fulfillment?
At the expense of our happiness, we have fallen victim of chasing false dreams others think will bring us joy. We fear that we may be ridiculed because our dreams may appear to be less than others. I had the pleasure of interviewing a dear friend whose pursuit for happiness will inspire many. Upon the completion of her degree in Biology, Leah Anyanwu, began her journey to educate young minds.
Tell me about your career path and how you got where you are now.
I was born into a Nigerian home in Milwaukee. I got my degree in Biology/ PreMed with the intention of going to medical school. When it was time to write personal statements on why I wanted to be a doctor, I found myself trying to pull something out of my head because I could not go beyond the typical ‘helping people’ and ‘giving back to my community’ responses. Growing up in an African home, it is normal for parents to push you to become a doctor, engineer or lawyer, but I have always had a passion for education. After graduation, I met a friend who worked for Teach for America. The opportunity sounded great and the next thing I know, I was packing my bags heading to New Orleans. At that point, I realized there were other ways to help people and give back to my community. I started off as a teaching fellow and after a few networking events, I landed a job in Kenya as a consultant.
How are the school systems in Kenya? How do you play a part in the system?
The schools in Kenya are quite different – teacher knows everything and students passively collect the information. There is little room for student opinions and critical thinking. As a consultant, my goal is to change that. I often work on curriculum development scopes, sequencing and teacher training. I work closely with school leaders and teachers to make them more facilitators and foster a more interactive learning experience.
Are you happy with what you are doing now? What are your plans for the future?
I am very happy with where I am now. This is what makes me happy. I enjoy consulting and in the future plan on continuing to do so. I want to continue to market myself so I can be a product and sell comprehensive material to school leaders. I want to have a family of my own without sacrificing what I have built. I believe in multitasking, making your demands known and not settling.
What advice do you have for people who are struggling to find themselves?
I have a tattoo on my arm that reads “Encourage Yourself”.
First, we need to be true to ourselves. You need to silo away and get in tune with yourself. Ask yourself, “what makes me happy? What’s my purpose?”. This is usually the most difficult part, finding your purpose. Having to explain that I am no longer pursing medicine to become a teacher was a difficult conversation I had to have with my parents. It takes a lot of courage and thought to be able to do that.
Also, networking. You need to be able to meet new people and make necessary connections. Through networking, I was able to secure this current position and have received very attractive offers ever since. Your network is your net worth.
by Ivery Arie