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UB Alums explore self-discovery and cultural awareness
By University of The Bahamas, Office of University Relations
Jul 15, 2021 - 3:16:16 PM

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Nassau, THE Bahamas — As The Bahamas celebrates the complexities of its achievements 48 years after it became a sovereign nation, a panel of UB alumni is urging Bahamians to consider and embrace the differences that reflect individual and national success.

The Atlanta (ATL) chapter of the UB Alumni Association recently facilitated a discussion under its ATL Success Series on how self-perception, self-discovery, and cultural awareness impact one’s ability to succeed on the world stage.    

UB alums, panel host and former talk show host of “Matters of the Heart” Kirk Johnson, UB-North Campus President Dr. Ian G. Strachan, Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Shaneeta Johnson, and Law and Wealth Expert Mrs. Nadia Fountain explored the definition of “success” for their eager audience.  

“I think that you are successful when you find yourself in a position where you’re able to occupy your potential, when you’re able to make manifest the gifts that you have,” urged Dr. Strachan. “And we each have different gifts. And society doesn’t work if we all have PhDs, or if we’re all lawyers or if we’re all physicians. Society works when people find their particular gifts and contribute to meeting the needs of people, and those needs run the gamut.”

Dr. Strachan asserted that the true “luck” of achieving success is discovering one’s passion early on and pursuing it with vigor. However, he noted that success is also greatly influenced—both positively and negatively—by one’s culture and the values of the society in which they live. As such, the process by which a young person discovers their gifts are, or their path to self-discovery, is a reflection of how they were educated.  

“Are they too much influenced by the prejudices of their society, to believe that a white-collar job is the only path to success, to believe that they should get degrees and look for a job, as opposed to a mindset that says ‘I’m going to get an education? Yes, but my goal is to target a problem, find a solution, commercialize the solution, become an entrepreneur, and create jobs as opposed to looking for a job’.  

“There are ways that education reflects the political order, and some of us rise above it, some of us are rewarded by it, and others are underserved by it.”  

The conversation also delved into the factors like doubt and imposter syndrome—when someone questions whether they’re deserving of their accomplishments, or the general feeling that one is a fraud—can easily slip in and derail one’s efforts.  

“I think this is normal and natural, and you have to continue to persevere and to push forward,” said Dr. Johnson, one of 20 Black female bariatric surgeons in the United States. “Your trajectory is yours, your journey is yours. You can’t measure yourself up against the next person. Because we’re all on different journeys here. Measuring yourself against the next person is not going to help you at all.”

She explained that all too familiar with imposter syndrome and the feeling one gets when they walk into a room and they are the only person that looks like them. As a result, Dr. Johnson and 19 other colleagues started a group to support each other professionally and personally, which has paid off phenomenally to date.   

“Finding like-minded people that can be of support to you is really, really crucial,” said Dr. Johnson. “And they can also remind you of what you have done, and what you do possess, and the amount of impact that you are having that will help to diminish some of this imposter syndrome and the doubt that you may have.”

Other factors including racism, prejudice, and gender discrimination can also impact one’s trajectory. For that reason, Mrs. Fountain said knowing the laws of one’s jurisdiction is definitely a must if one is to climb the corporate ladder in any jurisdiction.   

“I would definitely say yes to that, and I think what that turns on particularly is what could limit you,” said Mrs. Fountain. “So, I think in terms of somebody that wants to go about a career or has a particular path in mind and faces limitations in some respects. So, for example, by law you have the right to not be restricted based on sex, gender. So, if you feel that you’re in a workspace where you’re being restricted because of that, if you know the law, you know that that limitation can’t be there for you.  

“If there’s something that’s affecting you and your ability to do the best you can in the role that you have, then you have recourse.”

The online conversation was a welcomed one and also included the participation of UB Director of Alumni Affairs Mr. Elvardo Thompson, and Bahamas Consul General to Atlanta Mrs. Astra Armbrister-Rolle.  

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