AD: Who has had the greatest influence in your life?
Joyce: I can’t pin it down to just one person, different people have had an influence on me, but four are particularly special and are always top of my mind.
First and foremost is my late mother. She was a woman of great faith and her character was simply impeccable – she stayed on the straight and narrow and she raised my brother and me to follow in her footsteps.
Second, is my late sister in-law Annie. What can I say about her! She embraced life with such zeal and passion. One thing that has stuck with me to date was her positive attitude and energy at all times. Even when she was struggling with a terminal illness, she would still afford a big smile and showed love to people. She was wonder woman personified – smart, outgoing, great mother and wife. She was truly an inspiration.
Third is Michelle Obama, I admire the fact that she stands tall (literally and figuratively) and is not afraid to be herself – even with the pressures that come with being the first lady of the United States of America. It takes quite some courage to continue to be who you are and not resign yourself to fitting into other peoples ‘ideals’ of who you should be.
Lastly is Oprah Winfrey. I admire her work ethic, I mean she has built a successful empire around herself and is not afraid of staying true to herself. I find that I identify with a lot of her personal struggles in life and admire her strength and hard work that she exemplifies and it shows in the great success she has had, especially being a minority – a black woman.
I am also inspired by the work she is doing through her leadership academy for girls in South Africa and I hope to one day open a Christian High School for Girls modeled after her school.
AD: Who would you identify as your childhood hero?
Joyce: I wouldn’t say I had a childhood hero, but I always admired teachers and in fact wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I will let you in on a little secret, I hope to teach a history class in my future life – in my yet to be named all girls high-school.
AD: What is your favorite book?
Joyce: I love reading, some of my favorite books are: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.
AD: Describe yourself in one word.
AD: What’s the one word your think your colleagues would use to describe you?
AD: If you could have dinner with 3 famous people – dead or alive in history who would they be?
Joyce: Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King and Paul in the Bible. They are three people I feel kept their eye on the prize in spite of challenging obstacles in their way – Martin and Paul even died for their respective causes. They exhibit a special kind of resilience and passion that I myself strive to have.
AD: If you could change one thing in the world, what would that be?
Joyce: I would want to see that everyone understood the love that God has for human kind.
AD: What are you most proud of in life?
Joyce: I am proud of the fact that I have built a character of resilience, especially through the different challenges that life has thrown my way. Even through the blows, I have kept moving forward.
AD: What do you love about your job?
Joyce: There are quite a number of things I love about my job … actually.
One is the people that I work with; they are quite an amazing team.
Two, is the fact that I actually get to see the impact of the work we as Akili Dada are having on the lives of the girls and young women that we work with.
Three, is that my job helps me realize and live out my passion on a daily basis; that is somewhat of a gem to find.
And last but certainly not least is the fact that I am able and am allowed to be as creative and innovative as I want to be as long as my ideas are for the benefit of the girls and young women that we work with.
AD: Tell us a fun fact about Joyce Ngumba.
Joyce: Right, so when I am alone in the house, I switch on my iPod and put on my high-heels and dance, I can dance and dance for hours.