N'Digo Kali

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It took me eight years to finish my undergraduate degree. Three different schools, two states, two kids, one marriage, and multiple degree changes later, I finally had my degree. I was one of those people who “life” happened to throughout my undergraduate experience. I never planned it to be that way, which makes my academic journey so fitting for a person like me.

Growing up in a single parent household with my mother and sister, I internalized at a very early age that I needed to have firm control of my life in order to not feel like I was a burden to my mom who worked hard in order to support my sister and I. Seeing how much my mother struggled to give my sister a roof over our head and food to eat was all the motivation I needed to make sure that I did something with my life so that all of my mother’s sacrifices weren’t in vain. What this created was an unhealthy need for perfectionism and a drive to do things in a “timely” manner, even if it created discomfort for my reality

Q: What’s your college-journey story?

I started college with the plan to graduate in four years with a degree in communications, with a journalism focus. I graduated high school in the top 10% of my class with enough scholarships to fund my entire education. By the time I entered college, I was already burned out by my overachieving in elementary, middle, and high school. I did not apply myself academically and spent my first two years struggling to manage school on top of my budding social life. I lost focus on why I was there and ended up losing my scholarships, failing several classes, and expecting my first child by my sophomore year in college.

My new responsibilities as a mother (and wife) gave me a new purpose and determination to get clear of what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Realizing I had to care for my family ignited a fire within me to get my education as a way to create an identity outside of my roles as mom and wife. Each college and degree change was an attempt to get closer to knowing myself and what I wanted to do professionally. Realizing I was passionate about cultural and self-development, I eventually graduated with a BS in Social Science (Psychology and Africana Studies focus). Later I became a 200hr Certified Yoga Teacher, Certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Certified Mindfulness Practitioner.

Q: What inspires you about college re-enrollment?

In my experience as a coach, the decision to go to school or return to school tends to serve as a pivotal moment in a person’s life to improve some aspect of themselves or their environment. It’s a recognition that the person believes that some good will come out of a college education, and that optimism for what the future may hold is an amazing thing to hear and witness from the people I support. I am passionate about helping others become the best versions of themselves and have the courage to go after that which will allow them to live a life that inspires them. It’s a beautiful process to be a part of because I know that the support I am able to provide is making someone else’s life better.

Q: What advice do you have for students considering re-enrollment?

Time is a man-made construct to organize and create limits on something that has no limitations. With that in mind, keep the end goal in mind of what the experiencing of returning to school will mean and do for you currently, and after it comes to an end. How long it took for you to accomplish it does not matter; what is important is that you did it. Fortunately for us, the diploma you walk away with does not state how long you took, or how many classes you had to repeat. It does not say anything about the struggles or triumphs that came in the pursuit of it. It just says you did it! You’re never too young or too old to learn and grow as a result of learning. So just do it, and take all the “time” you need to do it.

Q: What is your favorite quote?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” - Marianne Williamson (excerpt from the poem, “Our Deepest Fear”)