We all have wake up moments. Sometimes they have to do with our current pattern of life and its contrast with our desired futures. Sometimes these moments generate a new outlook or perspective about ourselves and our relationship to others. Sometimes, it’s all of the above.
Wake-up moments for Nazia Adekyami are in the all of the above category. Nazia became a mother at the young age of 19 and had to be immediately very practical about employment and training after high school. Many around her were in the health field as CNAs and her grandmother told her CNAs always have a job. Ten years of life went by and while Nazia’s family had grown, her paycheck had not. She was struggling to pay rent, her car broke down, and with the inconsistent work schedule of a CNA, it was hard to have quality time with her daughters. “I couldn’t be an effective parent if I was always worried about food, clothing, and shelter. Something needed to change.“
Wake up moment #1. Recognizing things were not going the way she wanted, Nazia imagined where she wanted to be at age 50. “I wanted to not struggle all the time, to have a level of comfort and stability.” She took pen to paper and wrote down the kind of life she wanted. Then she asked a key question, “What can I do now to get there?” Asking and answering this question translates the want for a better life from the mind into tangible actions in the now. For Nazia, earning a college degree was part of the answer.
A local resident, Nazia learned about and enrolled in the partnership site program in Chester as a Human Services major. This program was the right fit for Nazia. “I had to cross off every excuse I’ve had for not continuing.” Classes were around the corner from home, so she could walk to class in case the car broke down, and took place during evening hours, so she could work and go to school. Nazia also appreciated the family atmosphere of the site. Partnership site staff offered constant encouragement and ensured students stayed on track. Rather than being a number, instructors knew the students, and students supported one another through life experiences and struggles shared as part of classroom discussion. In Nazai’s case, experiencing the partnership site as a family took on another level of meaning when she met and married a math instructor in the program! “By the end of math 113, we were a couple and my husband was a groomsman in the wedding of another partnership site couple.” (see Drue and Michael Bailey, February newsletter).
Alongside the joy of new love came the sacrifice going to college required for this working single parent. Nazia worked as a CNA overnight from 11 to 7, returned home to get her children ready for and delivered to school, and then went to a second client from 9 -12. 12 – 2 was reserved for cooking dinner and doing her own schoolwork before picking her daughters up from school. On two evenings per week, this routine was followed by Nazia attending college classes from 5-9. “It was difficult, But when I walked across that stage and got my degree with my children clapping for me from the front row, it was worth it.” Throughout the program, Nazia knew her daughters were watching her, but perhaps didn’t realize how closely. Witnessing all of her mom’s hard work was Nazia’s oldest daughter who later told her, “Mom, watching you get up early to make sure your assignments were done, staying up late at night, and going to work motivated me to be the best student I could be.”
Wake up moment #2 predated but prepared Nazia for her postsecondary journey. While looking for the office of her daughter’s new pediatrician, Nazia asked for directions from a counselor whose office was nearby. She enjoyed their conversation and kind spirit of this woman, and took her up on an invitation to return for a session. As is standard for a first counseling session, Nazia was asked to talk about her family background and experience growing up. The counselor listened as she spoke matter of factly about growing up with a single mother whose addition meant she wasn’t around for her young daughter. From age 8 to 14, Nazia lived with her grandmother, followed by difficult housing situations until age 19. “I’ve been through a lot.” Nazia didn’t realize how much she had to share and before she knew it, time was up for the first session. On her way out, the counselor said gently, “You’ve experienced a lot of trauma in your life.”
“Trauma?,” Nazia thought to herself. ”It was the first time I had ever been told that the things I had gone through were traumatic; it was just the norm in the community.” Through counseling, Nazia learned that wounds she thought time had taken care of were still very much affecting her as an adult. She accepted and opened herself to this realization and it was then that her journey toward real healing began.
With a passion for helping people, it came quickly to Nazia’s mind that many other people likely have the same story. “How can I help them be more aware and cognizant that things from childhood affect you in adulthood?”
Wake-up moment #3. The seed for her training company, No More Trauma Consulting, was planted. No More Trauma consulting is an organization that assists and supports adults with identifying and healing unresolved childhood trauma. Her vision began to develop while in the Human Services program, as she strengthened her skills in listening, empathy and self-awareness through classroom-based case studies and role plays. Though graduating with the class of 2017, it wasn’t until 2020 that Nazia founded her company. “I always equate things like this to being pregnant and giving birth. I was pregnant with an idea, but it wasn’t quite time to give birth. It still had to grow, develop, and get strong so it could survive.” Nazia also felt she needed to grow personally to be an effective Life Coach. “LIke I tell my clients, I had to do my own work.”
Nazia is currently shaping the No More Trauma training curriculum into an online, self-paced course that concludes with an individual coaching session. In the meantime, she has become an author! “Sumaya’s Secret” tells the story of a young African-American Muslim woman’s struggle with identity and self-discovery. Click here to learn more about Nazia and Sumaya’s Secret.
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