For Ednah Sangaka ‘T22, “pay it forward” is a mantra that guides her every choice and action.
Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ednah Sangaka ‘T22: I was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya where I lived with my family relatives. I had the time of my life growing up as a kid because I was always surrounded by family and friends with whom I shared a good time. After high school, I joined Strathmore University in Kenya for my undergraduate degree and was in my sophomore year when I got the opportunity to come to the U.S. I was so excited because it was a chance for me to join my mom and sister who were already living in North Carolina, as well as a chance to pursue higher studies. I really wanted to join NC State, but my college credits could not transfer and I had to start all over again. I had to pay out-of-state tuition, so I opted to start my undergrad journey at Durham Technical Community College to pursue an Associate of Science before I transferred to NC State. Thanks to the C3 program and Goodnight Scholars Program, I have been able to accomplish my dream of getting into NC State to finish up my undergraduate degree. I am currently studying mathematics with a career interest in actuarial science.
If you had to summarize your personality in one sentence, what would it say?
I’m a soft-spoken young woman who loves to help and serve those around me and enjoys a good time with friends and family.
How would you describe your life as an NC State student thus far?
My life at NC State has been both fulfilling and challenging. NC State has taught me so many lessons. From learning how to spend my time and energy effectively when handling multiple responsibilities, to realizing that change is good and should be leveraged for our personal growth. I remember failing my first test and getting so discouraged. I was a high-achieving student at Durham Tech and this made me wonder whether I was a good fit for NC State. I slowly started experiencing imposter syndrome and started questioning my capabilities. I was in a new environment and a more competitive institution, but I am glad that the transition eventually forced me to develop better study and learning techniques and to also ask for help when I needed it.
Tell us about an accomplishment at NC State that fills you with pride.
My biggest accomplishment at NC State was getting selected for the Goodnight Scholars Program. Through it, I have gotten the chance to interact and be inspired by other scholars who are doing exceptionally well in their academics as well as in their communities. I pride myself on being a part of such a prestigious scholarship program that nurtures scholars to be well-rounded individuals by providing professional and personal development workshops, travel opportunities, and collaborative social activities where we can learn and expand our skillset.
How have you learned to adapt to the COVID-19 situation when it comes to academics?
COVID-19 has disoriented all of us in different measures. I experienced a lot of anxiety, had frequent headaches, and became less productive due to the myriad of distractions at home. I best function in a school setting where I am more focused since I have clear boundaries. Some of the things that I have done to help me stay focused and disciplined with regards to my academics include setting up clear timelines and schedules to complete tasks, using the Pomodoro method of studying, tackling school work in small portions so that I don’t get overwhelmed and stressed, getting enough rest, and drinking lots of water. Catching up with old friends and family over Zoom, connecting with God during family devotionals, and listening to feel-good music have also been great mood boosters.
As someone who loves to travel, my favorite memories in the Goodnight Scholars Program have to be the travel opportunities I got to experience.
Tell us about your time in the Goodnight Scholars Program.
It has been so enriching! I have been involved in the program through professional and personal development opportunities, as well as social events — all of which I have enjoyed and learned a lot from. Besides attending professional and personal development workshops, I also got the chance to travel to Boston and Trinidad and Tobago for professional and service-learning purposes. Additionally, I am currently an active committee member for the Goodnight Scholars LEGO Brick Build. I work alongside other members to organize an event that brings 300 elementary and middle-school children to learn and explore STEM through interactive educational activities and competitions. I am particularly involved in the logistics sub-committee which ensures that the committee stays within the allocated budget for the event and maintains communication with concerned parties to ensure that the event space is booked and equipment is available for use. While serving under this committee, I have enhanced my leadership, team collaboration, and communication skills.
What is one of your unforgettable memories in the Goodnight Scholars Program thus far?
As someone who loves to travel, my favorite memories in the Goodnight Scholars Program have to be the travel opportunities I got to experience. One of my memorable experiences in Trinidad was visiting Asa Wright Nature Center. I got to learn about environmental conservation efforts through environmental enthusiasts which sparked my interest in becoming more conscious about my environmental practices. I also enjoyed my time in Boston. Our visits to Boston Children’s Museum and MIT’s Edgerton Center enabled me to learn about their STEM advocacy efforts while I got to learn about some technological advancements in the healthcare industry during our visit to Massachusetts General Hospital.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to a potential Goodnight Scholar or incoming Goodnight Scholar?
One advice I would give to incoming Goodnight Scholars is to get out of your comfort zone while at NC State. Take this opportunity to do things you would normally never do now that you are being financially supported by the Goodnight Scholars Program. Go for that ASB or Study Abroad trip and learn about the world around you so you can understand how other people live and do things. Take up a leadership role and develop some important skills that you wouldn’t get to learn in class. Go for as many social events as you can. This will not only give you a break from your academics, but you may also develop an interest in something you never thought you would like.
Photography credit: Josh Guter/Goodnight Scholars Program