Podcast: Mai Moore and Yumi Ndhlovu: Navigating College Admissions as a Woman of Color

Today’s episode is a special one: I get to talk to a mom and her daughter about their experience with the college process. Navigating college admissions is hard for anyone, and for people with minority backgrounds, there are additional factors to consider. Tune in to learn how one family listened to their values and found the right fit for their student.

TRANSCRIPT

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

I think you have to put less pressure on yourself like I’m looking back through middle school even in high school I picked up every extracurricular i could i My school was really really academically demanding and you don’t have to do all of that

Sheila Akbar: 

Hi, everybody, welcome back to don’t force it. Today, I’ve got a real treat for you. I’m interviewing my friend Mai Moore and her daughter Yumi about a number of topics. But most significantly, mais work in the social justice world working with teenagers to empower them. And her and her daughter’s experience of applying to college during the pandemic, and the sort of takeaways from that process and the growth that happens through that process. So I really enjoyed talking to the both of them. They’re both such impressive women, and they’re going to do great things. Mai is the co founder of EYEJ empowering youth exploring justice based in the Cleveland area, and has moved on to become a serial entrepreneur. And we’ll have her back to talk about her next venture, which is a speaker series, preparing young women for career trajectories. And Yumi is finishing her freshman year at a really great college in New York City. And they both have wonderful perspectives to share with you all today. Well, thank you both so much for joining me. I’m excited to talk to you today. Why don’t we start by hearing a little bit about each of you? Mai can we start with you tell us a little bit about your background, and then your experience navigating the college process with your daughter.

Mai Moore: 

Thank you so much. First of all, Sheila for having us. I’m so proud of you. And I truly am understanding and empathetic towards the work that you do. It’s so important. And thank you for raising up our young people. Thank you for having us. And so my name is Mai Moore, and social impact leader,

Unknown: 

Sure, I’m Yumi Ndhlovu, this is my mom, obviously, but I’m really here to help build a more equitable and inclusive world. I am a mother, I am a human. I am a change maker. And I was 16 years in tech. And then I started a social impact nonprofit, wow, almost 10 years ago now empowering young advocates for change. So really teaching young people, how do you actually take the idea into action. So things like doing policy work award winning social action and marketing campaigns around different injustice areas and serve 2000 young people. And Yumi, this is my daughter, she was part of some of that work. And I am now launching two new businesses both related to social impact as well, one very much related to young women, college aged young women and the other one really more about racial equity work. And so you made you want to introduce yourself. I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but I’m now living in New York City for college. I am wrapping up my first year of college, I’m studying international law with minors and economics and foreign languages. And I’m very excited to be here. Thank you so much.

Sheila Akbar: 

Well, thank you both of you’re so impressive. Number one, can I just say that I feel really lucky to be able to talk to you. And I feel like our audience should feel like they’re lucky as well. Let’s start with some of the things that you talked about my were your work around social impact for teenagers, and how that impacted your experience of guiding your daughter through her teenage years?

Mai Moore: 

Wow, that’s a big question. The funny thing is, a lot of people think that I started EYEJ because of my daughter. And I’m not I’m not so sure. I mean, part of it might be part of it. But I also, you know, I’m half Japanese, half white, and I have a lot of black lived experiences in the community. And I think a lot of the experiences that I had, especially growing up, and then just really understanding the situation, the climate, the injustices that young people face is really what motivated me and Trayvon Martin Martin’s ruling. And I mean, Yumi can answer this. I mean, we obviously have had a lot of debates. We’re both big debaters. And I think the way that raised Yumi is to really be her own person and her own person as an individual and really just wanting to support her and what she wants to do in this life. And we’ve had obviously a lot of discussions around social impact DEI, about racial injustice and not always agreeing to be honest with you. I mean, she’s obviously coming from a different viewpoint. I’m coming from a different viewpoint, which is what really creates magic and coming to solution. To be honest with you, but I think, you know, this world is complex, you’re not only dealing with segregation between classes and education levels, and obviously ethnicities. And so again, Yumi comes from a different background about how she grew up. And obviously she, she can explain it. But I think for me, as a mother, I taught her what was the priority for me, it was education for her. And so you know, she, again, Yumi, you can explain, but she went to a private school, then a very good public school, and then she went back to a private school. And that was very different from me, where I was mainly all public school. And so again, different experiences.

Sheila Akbar: 

Well, let’s talk about that for a second. Do you guys are from Cleveland, I grew up in Michigan on the other side of the lake. And, you know, obviously, Cleveland has its own place, but I’m sure we had some similar experiences, being in a town where we were racial minority. So, you know, I had that experience as well of growing up in a industrial Midwestern kind of town, and then moved to the east coast for college. I lived in New York for a very long time, too. And it really opened my eyes to like, wow, how limited my experience it was, and the limited perspectives of the people around me when I was growing up. So if we can explore it a little bit, I’m really interested to hear, you know, that sort of generational difference of my you grew up half Japanese in Cleveland, Yumi you grew up, like part Japanese part white part Zambian in Cleveland. And, you know, a time difference later, right, a generation later. And I’m curious about those two experience. So Yumi, let’s hear from you, what what was it like growing up in Cleveland?

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Yes, I don’t want to talk down on Cleveland, because I will wrap it forever. But definitely, it was a very interesting experience, because Cleveland is not a small town by any means. But I was in a very small community, or most of my grade school, I went to an all girls private school, majority of the classes, very high socioeconomic level was primarily like probably 90%. White. And just like being around my mom, who was obviously working in policy and social justice, and then therefore me to grow interest in policy. And now I study international politics. It’s, it was very interesting, having certain discussions with people, because a lot of people I was around, we’re very small minded. And we’re from a very small, sheltered sort of community. And we’re coming from, you know, high social, socio economic level, very stable background, and having an input on these issues was, it was just pretty difficult to have discussions about anything social justice or policy related. But that being said, I do want to say, did get a very, very good education from the school that I was at, I definitely I can see going into college that in a lot of ways, my high school and my grade school prepared me in ways that a lot of other college students were not lucky enough to have. So I think it’s hard because I wouldn’t change my experience. But being a minor, I mean, anyone that’s a minority in a predominantly white space, I think, can relate to the fact that there are just some experiences that your counterparts your peers have not experiencing cannot relate to no matter how much education they have. And I think also coming from a mixed family, it’s very difficult to because as, as we’ve said, my mom is half white, half Japanese. And then like, the other side of my family is fully Zambian, but that wasn’t the family that I was raised around. So there’s a lot of intersecting factors that plan to this. And it made for a really unique experience. But yeah,

Sheila Akbar: 

I’m sure it did. Yeah. My what what would you add? What was what was your experience, like?

Mai Moore: 

Growing up? So where Yumi went to school in Cleveland is probably what, 10 minutes away from where I went to high school. And I was very, very, very lucky. My high school experience was one of the best times in my life, and it was very unique. The area where that is, is called Cleveland Heights. And it was very, very diverse. And we grew up where people look at each other as humans versus the color of your skin are that you know, you would see, I have said this many times you would see a white male prom king and then an African American female prom queen, and it would be no big deal. It was more about like, what are you into what are you aspiring to be and all that, so I grew up with that kind of culture. And so, you know, I was very lucky. You know, my mom, I got to travel with her several times around the world, she was a assistant concertmaster in the Cleveland Orchestra. And she really taught both myself and Yumi, you know, to really experience the world right? Get get as much experience as possible see the world because that helps to create better solutions for impact. So I was lucky to be open minded growing up, so I then moved to Los Angeles at that Time, and I felt like I fit in. And then I moved to New York City. And I just felt like I fit in. However, moving back to Cleveland, you know, and why I started EYEJ is because there’s 27,000 nonprofits in Northeast Ohio. And yet our kids are still in this state of toxic stress. And the injustice is to this very moment. And it just didn’t make sense to me. And so there was a lot of learning, honestly, moving back to cleaning, because it was a very different, you know, moment in my life, age, all that circumstances. And I’m very lucky to be able to experience to touch to be inspired by a lot of, you know, 99% of the kids I served or under a were African American definitely under represented, to see on a hourly basis, what they go through, and then also my personal life, I still am very associated with many diverse sections of the African American community, very diverse, right. And, and I have had experiences growing up that are very painful and related to the African American community. And what I know it comes back down to is the injustice is and how this world is set up. So I’m grateful that I mean, now I can look back and be grateful, because it has set me up for more understanding and awareness for the world. And young people, man, they deserve to be empowered, and we need to fix this world, because it just doesn’t make sense. It just doesn’t.

Sheila Akbar: 

Yeah, I’m so with you. I wonder if you could tell us a little bit more about the work that you did at EYEJ?

Mai Moore: 

Oh, sure. Well, it was definitely a labor of love. I mean, people think that it was very glamorous work, but Yumi experienced it to like the hardships I face. I mean, there was a time that I you know, we were actually homeless for a minute there. And I really risked a lot. I risked myself my life, my daughter’s life to push EYEJ forward because the reason what motivated me was the hunger and eyes opening of the youth. And so money didn’t meaning, of course, money matters. But it was more about the impact, I knew I was doing something. And I knew that I was changing culture, right. And I worked with over 1400 very diverse adults to push that work forward. But it was really me being aware and listening to what the youth wanted, and being aware to the problems that we’re facing. And then kind of piecing and connecting that I think that’s my sweet spot is connecting the dots of whether it’s corporations or media or sport or whatever it is, how can we connect the government? How can we connect better, and that was a big problem in Cleveland is that everything is very divided, right? And there’s a running club, and we’re all of us are very familiar with the club. And, and a lot of people help NGOs or nonprofits because they feel pity, or they feel they’re told it’s their duty. But do they really understand and then I think a lot of people have agendas, right in the corporate world. And is it really helping? Or is it show and what happens is, is when it when it’s for show, the impact actually makes things worse, because we’re not at corporations are not necessarily all the time listening to what the young people or the community is saying they need help with their deciding selves to say, based on my experience, and what my ego says, This is what we need to give help with. And then the community’s like, wait a minute, you’re really not understanding us. You’re not listening, we feel oppressed, even worse now. So I think that was the power of EYEJ demonstrating not only that, and also demonstrating that youth voice are so important. And they have so much to say and are very wise, especially the underrepresented and I’ll be honest with you just having experience working on many, many different types of teams, women, men, a fluent non fluent, the youth that I serve, my team were sometimes way more mature, and Yumi too, more mature than adults. Because they’re being honest, their answer and they’re being thoughtful. And and the problem is, is adults don’t like to be they don’t like to be shown up by young people. How possibly could young person know more than me? Well, this 18 year old has had probably a more experienced and you have had in your lifetime. A lot of adults don’t want to face that. And Yumi too Yumi’s had a lot of unfortunately, but at the same time, maybe blessings, life experiences that are not fair. They’re just not there.

Sheila Akbar: 

Well, thank you for that. Yeah, that really resonates the young people I work with, you know, teach me something every day and I know that’s, you know, kind of a cliche that people who are in education say but it is so true and I am so impressed. And they’ve changed my mind and opened my eyes about things that I wasn’t really aware of. So I think I have great hope for our future, if we can continue to empower the students to, like live their truth that speak right with their authentic voices. So I’m curious, we may be going totally off topic here. But I’m curious about this dynamic of all of the social impact work that you guys have done, obviously, in very diverse communities, and then Yumi goes to a school, where it’s not as diverse is probably not as open minded. There’s all this privilege, just sort of stopping conversations, making it really hard to bring those things that you’re probably like living and breathing at home with your mom, Yumi, couldn’t bring them into your school as much as you probably wanted to? I’m sure it seems like you’ve learned a lot of resilience and a lot of kind of emotional social intelligence from having to navigate that. But I’m so curious, how was that experience for you? And how did it impact you? What do you take forward from that experience?

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Yeah, I think it’s a difficult question. Because I don’t want to act like I’m not also coming from a place of privilege, I was so lucky to go to, you know, a school like, community I lived in was very, I was just very blessed. But it’s also, every day that I walked outside, I was still you know, I’m a black girl. And I’m being perceived as that no matter what the situation is. So I think as I was going through private school, and you know, being in that sort of community, I definitely the like, when I was younger, I struggled with authenticity, I struggled with, you know, sharing my full self. And I just realized, like, there was no reason for that. And even if students, you know, and my peers and my friends were not able to fully understand that I needed to be my most most authentic self, to be able to be successful. And when I was, you know, a little bit younger, and starting in high school, I would try to educate people on what’s going on in the world. And the more I did that, I learned that a lot of people are just very difficult. And it’s also not my job to educate people all the time, I’m on the same playing field as them. Like, for example, there is a lot of I remember, in middle school and going into high school, a lot of the white students, you know, like use the N word, and really simple things like that, that I feel like, as a society, people know, is not politically correct, I would, you know, get super angry when I heard it being used. And I would go and lecture them about why the usage is not right, and how you know, us as a society has progressed so much above that, but it’s like, I learned at a certain point, that that’s not my job. And not saying that it’s okay in any way. But I’m not, I was not brought to that school, in my opinion, to be teaching others I was being at that school to be teached. And I found this experience go across a lot of ways, like our school used to always use me on the cover of magazines, because I was always one of the only black kids in my grades. And our school would always interview me for recruitment information, or whatever. So all I could do is take as much as I could from that experience, and you learn as much as I couldn’t, I was able to do that I got a great, great education. But it is hard no matter what being I’m sure anyone, ever minority or any black students that are listening to this can relate to the fact that there are some things that other people just simply cannot experience no matter how much effort, how much education, how much whatever they think they have around this around the topics of social justice and stuff like that. There’s just a difference between lived experience and that. So yeah, I think I think it was a very interesting and beneficial in the end experience. But yeah.

Sheila Akbar: 

yeah, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing all of that.

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Yeah, totally. But the like, my point in that is, that’s just not my job to educate people. Like I can’t be at a party and hearing someone say that and go police them and say, Hey, this is I used to do that. I used to be like, Hey, this is why this isn’t right. And let’s, you know, whatever. But it’s like, that’s simply not my job. And like, we would have discussions in like history class of like, talking about, like slavery and black history and stuff. And everyone would turn to me for experience and, you know, knowledge, but it’s like, that is not my job. I like I’m just a student as everyone else is.

Sheila Akbar: 

Yeah, I hope glad you came to that realization. So my experience, you know, I grew up in a small town in Michigan. My family is from Bangladesh, and we’re Muslim. And for whatever reason, my parents had be better to send me to a private school, and they sent me to a private Christian school and my brother, we were the only two among maybe five people of color in my entire high school career. I’m sure there might have been there might be more now and there may have been more before us. But while we were there, there were only a couple a handful. And we were certainly the only two Muslims. And so they would ask me to speak in the world religions class and explain, like my culture and my religion to them, and I’m like, I am 15. What? Like I Aren’t you supposed to be teaching me just like you were saying, and in a way, it was a huge learning experience for me? Because I was like, Okay, well, you know, what is my definition of culture? What is my identity? What do I want to really adopt from the religion that my parents sort of handed me. So it prompted that moment for me to really think critically about those things. But also just such an unfair position for a young person to be in to be treated as a representative, right or tokenized in the way that that you were you were trotted out on magazine covers and things like that, right. But of course, I’m sure that experience is coming in handy will continue to come in handy as you navigate college and the working world. So let’s talk about the college process. Mai you brought this up before we turned on the recording. What was that process? Like for you guys? And what do you wish you had known before you really embarked? Like what advice would you offer to people who are about to embark on this?

Mai Moore: 

Forget your junior year. And any parent that right now big hug to you, big hug to your child, big hug to you. Here’s what I want to say I’m very grateful for the school that Yumi went to because they definitely we got it, we got a little bit of a hand holding through that process. Right? They were pretty organized. However, do they understand that process from somebody, you know, a family that is underrepresented, single mom and this child or is maybe not a white child? And the circumstances that are all revolve around that. So they might have offered at times maybe the stipend the application fee waiver. Right. Okay, great. But do you understand that, okay, you know, my daughter’s father just died. And we are in the middle at the point where, you know, there’s a process of figuring out scholarships, and we are freaking exhausted, overwhelmed. And you’re in the middle of the pandemic? And do I really feel like looking back? Did they really advocate for my daughter? I don’t know. I don’t think so. Because I’ll tell you and Yumi, I’ll hand this over to Yumi. But you know, through the course of the process, you you decide which schools you apply for. And then we had come down to I want to say like 10, you know, I forgot Yumi how many schools you got into and we had, you know, Yumi had two offers for full rides. And they were pushing for, you know, when you’re at a private school, it’s all about connections and relationships, right, rather than the child. So they were pushing for this one offer, because there was a relationship. The school I think, wanted to feel fill a DI bucket, it made her school look good. And we had to spend money to go to the school to visit it, because we really were we were bought in for about five minutes. We were bought in. We were right. And it sounded great to my ears like freeride here. And Yumi went to the school and she decided herself. She’s like, I just don’t feel it. And I right then I was like, okay, and on the flip side, she’s going to a very expensive school in New York City. That is actually one of the most diverse schools in the country, which I’m grateful for that. But they did not support. When we told the news to her school. Oh, egos were bruised, they literally cut us off basically, at that point. And, you know, we got some we got some back end remarks. Yes that’s the school that’s about you know, but to the to the to the office that handles admissions at her school. Oh, no, they were not happy. And I think on top of that, you know, we kept going back to them about scholarship help. And again, they were they just they didn’t know, they they would point us here and there. But they really compared to their normal way of doing business. They’re much more helpful in certain areas, and they were just totally lost. But Yumi, you should go into the details of like how you were feeling and what you went through that you’re I mean, Yumi, I’m so proud of my daughter because she took that process as a like an independent young woman and really was so focused, and you did such an amazing job.

Sheila Akbar: 

That’s awesome. I will also say kudos to you guys

Mai Moore: 

Yeah and I will I will make one more one more comment. Yumi you should tell the process but as I reflect back right now, did Yumi get into any of the schools that she wanted to know? And that’s where I feel like my daughter was not really advocated for in this country. It’s not that the school it’s a country, it’s the way the system is set up. And I don’t want to talk down on her current school is she at the right exact match of a school for her, not sure about that. That’s how we’re setting our kids for failure in this in this for really trusting your gut on what school was the right fit. country.

Sheila Akbar: 

Yeah, this system is really flawed for sure. Well, Yumi, let’s hear from you. What what do you remember about that process? And what advice? Or what do you wish you knew before you started?

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Yeah, so the craziest time. A lot of people say that like applying for college is like adding another class into your schedule. It’s not It’s like going to a whole nother school at the same time. It’s, it’s, it was literally so crazy. And I think, I don’t know I it was happening started in Right. That’s that’s a hard thing to do, especially in the sophomore year in high school, I definitely like want to give face of a full ride some praise to my school, we were given college counselors, which were really well equipped, I want to say, and we were definitely provided with a lot of resources that a lot of students do not have. That being said, I was also going to an extremely, extremely difficult private school at the time, and my courseload was crazy, first of all, and then we added on the whole college application process. And I was very lucky, me and my mom were ahead of the game, I already knew what I wanted to study, I want to say like sophomore year, if not before that, and we had already visited a lot of colleges before that just to try to, you know, jump ahead of the game. But it was still so crazy. I we started off in sophomore year, and I made a huge list of all the schools that I wanted to go to. And that was like the first red flag is when I gave the list to my school. And they gave us back a list that was completely different and was not a list. I think it’s very prevalent in society that a lot of high schools, especially private high schools have connections to certain colleges, and they want you to go to certain colleges to keep up the name. And I could tell that on my list, I think every single girl in our grade had to have the same colleges on every single girls list. And they weren’t like in state schools. They weren’t, you know, it wasn’t a school nearby. They were two very far away schools, they were good schools, but they they had literally nothing to do with what I wanted to study what I was looking for in a college anything and every single girl had those schools and the affiliations with my high school in those schools was very clear. But when I started, you know, doing the college process, I just it was so much work like taking the ACT SAT, I you had to study for the ACT every single day. And we had, I was lucky enough to be able to have a tutor for that. And I think I took it I want to say it took the ACT two or three times possibly, I’m not sure. But still, like with COVID ACT dates were getting cancelled, and it was crazy for everyone. But as we went deeper into the college application process, I ended up applying to 20 schools, which is crazy, I would not write anyone, I just wanted to give it my best shot. And I really, really, really wanted to go to the best school that I could. And I my school did not help me with that. As you know, starting in decisions back, I was a little bit disappointed. I wasn’t getting into my top schools, which is not abnormal. But I was seeing other kids who you know, didn’t have the same grade point average that I had getting into those schools. And they you know, other students that were getting into those schools had family affiliations with the schools, of course, and you know, there was a lot going on behind the scenes, I don’t want to talk down on people. But there was a lot going on behind the scenes. And that was really disappointing to see because that was something I could not control. And then on top of that I obviously needed scholarship and financial aid help. So I was applying to like, like a ton of scholarships, which was really, really crazy. And we’re trying to find scholarships in my school was not super assisted with that either. And that’s not a unique thing I realized now I thought that was super unique as high school because no one else was doing that. But people need scholarships, that’s not abnormal college is really, really, really expensive. And the like options that I was seeing if I didn’t apply to scholarships, where to go to schools in state, and I’m from Ohio, so there are not a lot of options that fit what I was looking for. I knew I wanted to go to school in an urban city and especially for what I was studying that was necessary. So as I got my decisions back, you know, we had a certain number of schools that I had gotten into, and we started we didn’t want out that I knew I wasn’t going to go to and we came down to a final two as my mom was talking about. And one of them was this one I attend now and the other one that was one that my high school was pushing for a lot. It was in the middle of nowhere. It was tiny, it didn’t fit any of the requirements of the colleges I wanted to go to. So we like my mom said we literally drove up there and visited it. I tried. I think I really tried my best to try to give it a chance. We did a tour with someone that went to my same high school that attended there. And she even told me this isn’t the school for you.

Mai Moore: 

And they paired her. Do you remember Yumi they paired you and the girl was African American so they pair her purposely

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Because I was obviously worried about diversity going into that school because it was a very, very rural small school and they found the only black girl that they could find and paired me up with her, of course. And she showed me like the black community there. It was like 10 kids it was it just really was not the pool for me. And I came back and I told my college counselor that and he said I would not recommend you go to the other school the school I go to Now, it’s not reputable. It’s not you know what he was just really talking down on it. And it really fit all my requirements or not all of them, but way more of my requirements and the other school did. And I found out that, you know, our high school definitely had an affiliation with the other college and a lot of other students were being pushed to go to schools like that. But that being said, I ended up where I wanted to, I didn’t listen to their advice, which I’m very lucky. I’m in a very, very lucky, good position. I’m living in New York City, which is the best thing ever. So yeah, I feel like I said a lot.

Sheila Akbar: 

You did. And it was great. I mean, I think that’s the kind of thing, the realities I think people need to hear, it is a ton of work. And if you’re gonna apply to 20, schools, oh, my god, it’s so much work. And then you had scholarship applications on top of that, so much work and without having, it sounds like you didn’t unfortunately, have full buy in from your college counseling office in your high school, that they were really going to support you and your goals. But I applaud you for knowing so clearly what your goals were. So many people go into this process without a sense of goals, they may be really locked in on a name of a school, but without a really clear understanding of why. Right, you knew you wanted to be in a certain type of

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Yeah, I do. I do also want to clarify that I environment, not just so you could learn what you wanted to learn. But so you can see that stuff in action. Right. And I think approaching the college search, the way you did is so would not recommend applying the 20 schools no matter what I smart. And I always tell people, I use this. Remember, at the end of GI Joe, my I don’t know if you’ve ever watched that when don’t, that’s a good idea. I think yeah, definitely lowering you were growing up, they always did this whole little, little educational section and knowing is half the battle. Well, what I like to say is building the college list is half the battle down as precise as you can for what you want to do. What size of the college work. And people think oh, you just you know, you choose schools off of this ranking list, and then you the work is applying to them? Well, actually, you can be really, school you know, all the factors that you talk about, is a good really strategic in how you choose schools. So I’m glad you had the opportunity to choose schools that really did fit the bill for you and that you pursued that. idea. And I think there’s no way to prepare for it. Quite

Mai Moore: 

I mean, I think talking to parents, and like, honestly, I think you can do as much as you can. But it’s still such an unexpected process and hard role in a lot of ways. So yeah. you know, obviously, if you’re able to get any kind of advisors and you know, on social media, there’s groups where parents are talking and all that I think that’s very helpful. But I do want to add, I do think I still look back and I feel like the situation was really unfair, just specifically what you just said, Sheila, like, I prepared my daughter to know exactly what she wanted. She knew, you know, the major, she knew what type of environment, location, size school, all that kind of stuff, and it still didn’t matter. But if you compare that to a kid that was in a different circumstance, maybe a different ethnicity, different story.

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Also, like looking at a lot of kids don’t know what they want to do, and they don’t know what they’re looking for. And I can’t imagine like, if I didn’t know what the situation, how different the situation would be.

Sheila Akbar: 

Well, you’re just pointing up all of these systemic issues, right? We put so much pressure on a 16 year old you started when you were a sophomore, maybe you were 15, to try to understand what you want to dedicate your life to. I mean that, honestly, as an adult, I’m still trying to figure that out. So like, what are we really doing here? Right. But let’s end on on this. I know that when I went through the college process, it was a huge moment of growth. For me there was sort of before I did my college applications. I was sort of this one way one person. And then afterwards, I felt like I knew myself better. I had a clearer picture of my future. I felt confident in my ability to articulate what mattered to me. So for me that I just grew leaps and bounds by going through this this crucible of of the process. I’m curious Yumi Did you feel anything similar to that? And then my what you saw as mom watching her go through that? Did you see that growth?

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

I think yeah, it definitely was a crazy crazy process. And I’m lucky I made it through and I’m in a good situation now. I think you have to put less pressure on yourself like I’m looking back through middle school even in high school. I picked up every extracurricular I could. My school was really, really academically demanding and you don’t have to do all of that. I would say obviously push yourself do the best that you can but your life is not riding on this. It’s not the end of the world. If you don’t go to the one or two schools that you want to go to you will find your fit and it’ll all work out. And if it doesn’t, then you can change it and if you don’t like what you’re setting you can change it like there’s there’s a lot of different paths. I think there’s one path that is, you know, depicted in media and everything that kids are supposed to follow. But it’s not. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Sheila Akbar: 

So yeah, that’s great. Yeah. My What about you? What do you think?

Mai Moore: 

I mean, I’m just, I’m proud of her. I mean, I think we could talk negative about the process, but you see the responsibility and like how much she can reflect on this circumstance and where she’s at right now. I mean, I feel like Yumi you should be really proud of yourself, of what you’ve learned and your journey and the steps that you took, I mean, you were very determined and focused. Those are the winds, right? You got to dot, you know.

Sheila Akbar: 

And those are the skills and qualities that are going to take you forward. Right, you push yourself, you learned, what you what mattered, you learned how to figure out what mattered. And even when that changes, you’re going to be able to apply those skills over and over again, to figure out what’s the right career path for me, or is it a portfolio career? Because honestly, what all of us adults, what we think we know about the working world is changing faster than we can understand it. So don’t listen to adults. When they tell you you got to take this path, your mom and dad of the other people maybe. Okay, great. Well, I think we’ll leave it there. Thank you both so much. This is a really great conversation. I love see your relationship. It’s so so wonderful and sweet.

Yumi Ndhlovu: 

Yes. Thank you so much.

Mai Moore: 

Thank you, Sheila. Thank you.

Sheila Akbar: 

Okay, dear listeners, I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. I think the note we ended on there on how much students can grow through that process is a positive one to keep an eye on. That’s kind of the goal of all of this. And if you can enable that growth, enable that reflection in your student while they’re going through this process, it will be easier in a lot of ways they will grow and be prepared for what’s next through that process of growth. So that’s one of the things that we always strive for here at Signet. We always say growth over grades, we want good grades and of course engage students, but it’s really about growth, this whole process. To learn more about my you can follow her on LinkedIn and check the show notes for a link to that and come back for more next week. Thanks, everybody.

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