One Year Later
Since returning home from Philadelphia, what has been your most successful achievement or accomplishment related to leadership in civic engagement?
I think the one that I am really excited about is that I did this ambassadorship for youth week. It is connected to LED which is used as a youth aid funded project that is social media geared to young change makers where you can access resources, if you have projects of initiatives you can post them there, if you are looking for funding opportunities, fellowships, etc. It is also there to help connect people with mentors, get advice, attend webinars. They get about 22 ambassadors for the platform every year from different countries and one of them was me as the youth ambassador for Malawi from January to June. It has been a chance to connect to so many Malawians. It is an amazing way to see what people are doing and it is incredible what people are able to do with the little that they have. I think that the most rewarding thing is that people are looking for opportunities – but they don’t know where to begin and this has allowed me to help them in that and in networking. It has facilitated me connecting people searching for support with others – essentially me helping people network, and seeing people tell you what they have managed to achieve has been beautiful. I have been able to use so many little skills that I learned through MWF.
How have you engaged with fellow MWF alumni since returning home?
We have our Malawi YALI network and MWF alumni. We have a group that I have been working on things together with other alumni. We are working on a covid-19 response network project. It has been a great opportunity to meet alumni from years back, not just my year, which is really awesome. Josaphat from my cohort is my accountability partner and we talk all the time.
Have you maintained contact with people from the Philadelphia area, if so, who and how?
Marilou!!! My goodness, that woman! She has buckets of love that she sends to us. Apart from the Fellow group chat, Marilou is the person which I can talk to in a crisis and she will calm me down. She is a mentor who does not just ground me about work or life but anything.
Another is Christopher Harnish from Thomas Jefferson someone connected us. He works on architecture for health and we signed an MOU to do research work while I was there. He has been to Malawi 3 times and is stuck here now due to the pandemic and we are working on a research project where we are assessing the maternity wards. Currently the wards are designed so that men cannot be there during delivery, so we are requesting a change in the architecture in relation to patient outcomes, guardian satisfaction, and men’s involvement. We submitted a proposal to the IRB and are awaiting approval. Christopher has also connected me to other professors at Thomas Jefferson and we are all working on the project together, and we have created a strong bond in friendship as well as professionally.
Erin as well has helped me a lot working through a situation and has been very available without asking anything in return or making me feel that I am burdening her. It has made me more open to help others in the same way.
What do you miss most about Philadelphia and Drexel?
I miss you guys! It’s a no-brainer that it is the people – and everyone that I interacted with was so warm and welcoming. It was that environment that I miss. The first week I was thinking that the work that I was able to get done increased because of people’s willingness to help. They will support you and give you feedback even if you do not know them, they are eager to help. I miss the support system and eagerness to help and the people who helped to create that environment.
Talk about your 3 biggest take-aways from your time at Drexel and the Fellowship.
1- For me has been confidence, have had a lot of self-doubt but being around the fellows and Drexel staff it does not seem as crazy to dream. It may sound crazy but my life really has changed, the fellowship is what you make of it but you realize and it has changed my perspective on so many things and given me confidence to take chances and have less self-doubt.
2- The willingness to help other – I have always been willing to help here and there but there is selfish helping and selfless helping, where you want to meet a goal or get something or helping because you want to help. Seeing others’ wanting to help and assist selflessness makes me want to do that for others as well. I feel good now when others accomplish something great. This reminds me of Tim – he has always been there, we don’t talk often – but he is always there and I feel so happy every time I hear from him.
3- The connections, they have helped so much and the network and connections are priceless.
What would you pass on to future Drexel fellowship cohorts?
I loved the experience, and I felt that I was at the best university. Then I went to the summit and talked to other fellows thinking that Drexel was at a 10 but I discovered it is more like Drexel is at a 100, the best university. I came back home and talking to other fellows I even thought that no it is 1000. It is so diverse and there was something for everyone, we were able to see so many different things and the location gave you access to do many opportunities. Overall though, it was the Drexel spirit and this idea that people felt that if they wanted to make something happen that it was possible and that there is something great about the university for everyone – something we even saw with the Drexel students that we were in the living hall with.
I was worried when it was over that that would be it even though we say we would keep in touch but it is not that way! There is a space where we can keep coming back and communicating. The fellowship provides friends and resources in a sustained way.