Growing up in Senegal (West Africa), I’ve always loved learning. Anything education-related, from shiny new notebooks to large academic books, had me doing a (mental) happy dance. I guess you could say I was a nerd, pink glasses, heavy backpack and all… As the second girl in a single-parent family, I had learnt very early on to treasure the gift of education, mostly because my dear mom sacrificed so much so all four of us could have access to it. In a country where women were (and still are) under-represented in so many ways, being educated as a girl was (and still is) precious!
As passionate as I was about learning, I would have never suspected back then that the gift of education would actually change my life. Fast-forward a few years as I completed high school, both my mother and I were called in to the principal’s office. Shaking with nervousness, I kept wondering what that was all about. As it turned out, I was in the running for a scholarship to a prestigious school. Except the school was in the U.S., and if I was lucky enough, I’d be starting in the next few months…
The power of learning and education will take you further than you may have thought, across continents and countries. Whether formal or informal, everything you learn takes you some place you’ve never been before…
A few years later, I was graduating from Undergraduate and Graduate school, proudly wearing my favorite handmade African outfit under my robe. As I walked across the stage, thoughts of my journey flashed through my mind. Never in a million years had I thought learning would take me halfway across the world, enhancing my precious roots, and experiencing new cultures, ideas and concepts.
It was the power of education that taught me never to stop learning. Even after graduating as an Accounting major, my thirst of learning cultivated from years as a student, never dried up. It had awakened in me a constant curiosity, this constant sense that behind even the most trivial of things or events, there’s always something to learn.
Once a student, always a student. Learning doesn’t stop at graduation, or after completing a significant milestone in life. We learn every single day, formally or informally, and we’re made better, stronger, and so much more fulfilled because of it.
It’s also learning that brought me back to my first love of writing through blogging. After getting a formal education, I kept informally learning about the one passion I had had since childhood. The more I learnt, the more I could incorporate what I learnt in and outside of school and college. The more I was able to combine my natural talents with professional demands and start building my own path…
That’s the thing about learning and education. It doesn’t have to be in a specific discipline or path. It’s not necessarily done in formal settings. It can take you from the cubicle to the corner office, lead you to try things you’ve never considered, and push you to explore those skills and talents you may have neglected before.
I’m thankful to have been given the gift of education, in both formal and informal settings. As my dear grandmother used to say in her native Cape-Verdean creole over her stove making the best soul food I ever ate: “What you know, no one can ever take away for you!”
How has the gift of education changed your life?
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.