Connection To Self & Understanding

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Reflection

Wrapping up my Duke experience, the I&E certificate thoroughly shaped my overall life and academic experience. I grew to understand the importance of continuous learning, acquiring experience in my field/market of interest (African fashion and the Nigerian textile industry) and most importantly stay self aware.

As an International Comparative Studies (ICS) major, I was more intentional on understanding the connection between globalization, ideology, culture, economy and consumption plus its effects on different peoples. I am doing research on how the success of Lagos Fashion Week overshadows the troubles facing Nigeria’s textile industry. With this research, I am more knowledgeable on the history and problems facing the industry. This brings me closer to unraveling opportunity and allows me critically analyze/redefine the solutions my venture, LAJA is proposing. Tying my IE certificate and ICS major pushed me to learn about Nigeria/Africa as more than a space with great economic potential. I’m learning about Nigerian history, making better attempts to follow current affairs and seeking scholars/muses/mentors who are of Nigerian/African descent. It’s important.

Growing up, French was an obligatory language taught in school but I chose to continue studying it through college because I saw value in speaking another language (beside English & Ika, my native tongue). I didn’t know what value it would serve but I have a clearer idea now.  I see French as a necessary skill because 31 of 54 African countries are francophone. Considering I want to innovate within the Nigerian/African fashion and textile space, it’s common sense.

One of my best decisions at Duke was shaping my academics around my interests (instead of the other way around) and listening to my guts. I made LAJA and my love for African fashion central to my Duke experience- from the classes I chose down to the internships I pursued. It wasn’t always that way. As a freshman, I planned on majoring in Biology/French to eventually become a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon practicing in Beverly Hills 90210 (true story). If that failed, I’d do research on my sunscreen allergy and natural, health-friendly alternatives- I was set, for real. #PlannersUnite!  I loved skin/beauty and still do. During my journey, I found I didn’t get excited solving Organic chemistry problem sets as I did editing photos or writing a blog post. I was already blogging about my perspective on African fashion and knew I had to re-evaluate my entire existence when I kept seeking opportunities in fashion/marketing instead… Plus, the thought of spending time in a lab gave me a serious migraine.

Through the certificate, I became more accountable for my decisions. I didn’t take classes or pursue extracurriculars simply because. I’d ask myself, does this benefit my personal/career growth or LAJA? How can I apply it short or long term? Is this valuable in my journey? You know, deep, important stuff like that. I also read a lot because I still have much to learn. The best advice I received goes along the lines of this: “Picture what you see yourself doing in 10 years and start now.” Eye roll, I know but it has pushed me to put myself out there- so far its been working. In this interview my sophomore year, I said I wanted to start a fashion line. Two years later, I was picked as Forbes Scholar for my business. Life works in interesting ways. I have time on my side so I intend to tumble, fumble and fly my way to victory. It’s an exciting journey I’m looking forward to.

So, if you read all the way, you give me hope that people still read online. I see you with your reading skills, carry on *high five* *fist bump* I hope Duke keeps this site up (seriously, it’s my favorite out of the 5,000 I’ve had to create in the last 4 years for classes).  Five to ten years from now, I intend to fall off my leather spin chair reading and laughing my head off on how right or wrong I was on here… Either way, I’ll stay laughing. Dibs, anyone?

Always,

Miss LAJA