This mother of 4 is extremely passionate about her children and that passion spills over into all that she does. She is driven, goal oriented and is full of ideas. Soma Kachikwu is an education specialist (among other callings) and excels as what she does. Lets tall to her and find how she gets it all done!
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Somachi Kachikwu. My life is pretty much defined by my role as a Mother to my 4 sons (The Delta Knights). That acknowledged, I am a gender/education specialist and management consultant. I have a B.A in Women Studies (International Economics) from Wesleyan University, an M.A in Gender Studies (Empowerment Strategies) from University College, London and I’m currently studying for my MSc./PhD (Educational Leadership) at the University of Leicester, UK. My work experience includes working on international development projects through companies like Chemonics, and most recently, I worked as a LEADS consultant at the National Universities Commission before starting The Gifted Minds Academy. My hobbies include mentoring, am part of two Mentoring Networks- Girls Unite and Women and A New Orientation. I also love reading; I co-founded a Ladies Only reading club – Books and Dessert Club. I believe that Girls Rock and the world will be a better place with more women in charge.
What is The Gifted Minds Academy all about?
The Center is an Afterschool Facility which aims to provide a wide range of extended school activities for children between the ages of 4-14 years old. GMA seeks to provide strong academic, communication and leadership skills’ foundations for children, and for the parents and guardians, an excellent place where their children can be taken care of and provided with excellent learning opportunities. Our Center is home to a children’s library, an IT Room, comfortable classrooms and great outdoor space. Our programmes are designed to promote total student well-being, whilst dramatically enhancing the development of their academic, social, and leadership skills. The extended school programmes include:- Study support covering key academic subjects, language classes, leadership programmes and Intensive reading and writing programmes. We also host workshops where teachers are trained. It is an academy that aims to make learning fun and exciting.
GMA has a great thing going, tell us how you discovered your passion for children?
As a mother, I naturally wanted more, wanted better for my children, so I was always involved in their education process. I was always that Mom that volunteered to be a classroom parent, joined the PTA and organised Mom Meet-Ups. In wanting more for my children I started wanting more for other children and found myself always planning one activity or the other. I would even try to make birthday parties impactful as I loved seeing children learn. When I moved back to Nigeria a couple years ago, I witnessed an education system that had potential to be excellent. I saw teachers with passion but no resources, students with curious minds but limited exposure to knowledge. I also realised that the average Abuja parent had enrolled their children in more than one school, so the concept of GMA was created to build capacity and fill up the gaps. To motivate teachers and to enhance the gift in every child.
You are a mum of 4 boys! how are you able to do all you do?
God’s Grace and endless prayers! A friend recently told me that raising boys was not a walk in the park. I agreed with her as raising boys is more like a walk in a forest. I have been blessed with 4 unique yet amazing boys who fill my life with so much joy and activities. There is always something going on with them so there is never a dull moment. However, I raised them the way I was raised. My children are mainstreamed in my daily life and we do everything together. When they are in school, I am at work. I do school runs 99.9% of the time and when I pick them up, they either come to the centre with me or we go home together. As I am a student, we study together and we wrap up our day together with dinner and prayers. Its much easier for me that are schedules are in sync. I also firmly believe in “It Takes A Village To Raise A Child” and I am blessed with a network of close family and friends were we help each other, share tips about parenting and give hugs so its never really overwhelming.
Two of your boys are entering their teens, how challenging has it been dealing with boys?
I will not lie it has been really hard. Very few things have taken me by surprise but my boys becoming teenagers just blew me away. I am a research guru and a prayer warrior so I did a lot of research on Teen Boys and I prayed endlessly for wisdom and strength and this helped. I have learned that teenagers need room to express themselves but it’s important to have family rules and regulations; and stick to them. I am not the kind of Mum that goes with the trend so telling me “Mum, all my friends are going to Silverbird” may result in hearing “Sorry Love, all but you”. So with time my children have learned that Mum will not bend the rules and they seem to be adjusting. There are always those moments where they try their luck but once I mention their Dad, they adjust accordingly. As teenagers there are gazillion emotions and ideas that run through their mind so you must ensure that they love and fear God, as this will guide them to make the right decisions especially when their parents are absent. Again, teens must be held accountable irrespective of how grown they are”I don’t care how tall you are, I don’t care if you have a moustache or beard you are part of a family, the family has a culture, has a history of acceptable behaviour, so you my dear have to adjust.”
You also have a passion for mentorship, why is this so important?
I am product of mentorship. Experience is the best teacher so its advisable to find experienced men and women and learn from them. My Mum is my greatest mentor, I had a front row seat to her struggles and successes and it blessed me so much. I learned resilience, focus, giving back, tolerance, humility and most importantly hard work. In every stage of my life, I have always sought out successful people and attached my myself to them. People like my Mum, but also my Sister Nini, my Aunts, my cousins, my National University Commission boss Chris Maiyaki and I have loads of peer mentors; young women making the world a better place. I believe mentorship is particularly important because our society has shaky values. I remember once, my receptionist at the centre quit because she “didn’t like working on Saturdays”and I was shocked that a young single girl did not want to work on a Saturday. My Parents sent me off the New York at 15+, I started work at the local Movie theatre less than a week after I arrived. I worked New Years day, Christmas day and every holiday in between. Then when I started my internship at Chase Manhattan Bank as an INROADS scholar; I worked all summer. After going through all this as a young woman I was ready to take up any job and all fired up to go. Young women in Nigeria need that zeal, they need the focus, they need the confidence and they need the support to truly be tomorrow’s leaders. I have a passion for mentorship because I believe my story, your story and so many other great stories can awaken the younger generation to even be greater than us. The GMA hosted an internship programme this summer and will continue the programme in 2017.
Your mum Dr. Kema Chikwe is an amazon in the area of politics, how has been raised by her impacted who you are today?
It has impacted me in so many ways. It has made me so politically conscious and my brain is always in strategy mood and worse of all, I believe everything concerns me. This makes me a busy body of sorts but in a positive way. I am always conscious of equal representation, media interpretations and the relevance of private or government actions on the masses. I am also always thinking of how to improve situations, how to get involved, how to get others involved (my friends have been warning me) and I keep finding myself in long political discussions. I truly believe that Nigeria will be “Great again” and it would be an honour to be part of a New Improved Nigeria. Sometimes, I know my Mum feels she created a Political Monster as even when she says she is not interested, I will be harassing her on one issue or the other.
We know you work hard, what do you do for play?
I play hard too. Girls Night Outs are always on my calendar as I love hanging out with my friends. We chill, crack jokes and discuss trending issues. I also go to my favourite place in Abuja, Wuse Market at least once a week. Also, my Mum’s house is like a resort for the boys and I; so we go for sleepovers a lot.
How do you feed your spirit , soul and body ?
My Bible, Prayers and through Me time. I don’t joke with any of these I am a recovering Catholic. I was born Catholic, marriage took me to the Pentecostal Church, then somehow I found myself back in Mass and I love it. I love being Catholic and I love raising my sons in the Catholic Church. Rediscovering my faith has been very uplifting to my spirit and soul. Me Time is mandatory so when I am alone, I take time and review my actions and plans. As for my body its a new diet or workout schedule every day. I’m currently doing the Master Cleanse and I hope I get it right someday.
Advice for young woman struggling to combine motherhood and and their career.
Have a plan don’t let life happen to you, make sure you are in control of your life. Get a journal, a planner or download apps to help you schedule your time. Also get help with taking care of your home and children. When I was a stay home Mum, one day my son asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and that was my wake up call! Women should take time out and plan their day, its not cheesy or an “oyibo” thing its necessary. Schedule your takeover and actually plan to be great. Success just doesn’t happen it is planned and the most organised and the most hardworking …by God’s Grace will win the prize.
Thanks Soma you are amazing. We look forward to all you have in stock for 2017!