On Wednesday 25th January, Nneka Orji came to talk to Ashwell students about Education for Success. Indian born Nigerian, Nneka considered herself to come from a privileged family who was able to provide her with private education. After moving to the UK 16 years ago, she attended St Mary’s Ascott School for Girls, describing the strong bond of sisterhood that she felt in the Catholic environment.
From St Mary’s she went on to study Engineering at Oxford for four years. She explained to students the meaning of family support when choosing a career path saying, “I thought about studying Medicine but I’m glad my family helped me in making my decision, I don’t think Medicine would have suited me at all.”
After graduating from Oxford, she now works at multinational services firm Deloitte, a company that aims to promote social mobility and make positive impacts on wider society. On top of this she started mentoring young girls both in person and online.
Now at 28, Nneka has had a lot of experience in the world of work, and especially in supporting other individuals with their education. She occasionally writes for women’s magazines, emphasizing the message of confidence. She defined ‘success’ by one question: who do you want to touch? She further explained that for her this was not just giving back but enhancing others’ experience of life.
Ashwell residents were very interested in what Nneka had to share. When asked for advice on how to develop during time at university, she answered, “Never be afraid to stretch yourself and don’t underestimate what you are capable of.” She also recalled how her time at St Mary’s was much like being in a ‘bubble’, but studying at Oxford was when she stepped into the wider world. As a black woman, she did not feel any need to conform to others around her. “I’ve learnt that no matter what, I’m going to be who I am.”
Coming to the end of her talk, she gave some final pieces of encouragement to Ashwell students.
- Be true to yourself
- Choose to address the difficult topics
- See every challenge as a learning opportunity
“As young women we should try not to rely on other people, we should know ourselves.”