Report date
May 2019
Learning Log

It is unbelievable to see how two years could be transformational and surreal. I began my Bush Fellowship with optimism, openness, and curiosity wondering where this journey will take me. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity; the outcome of this journey has been rewarding, insightful, knowledgeable and exhilarating. The experiences have significantly impacted on my professional development and personal growth.
Some of these impacts include attending the World Business Forum among many other conferences, workshops, and seminars. The 2018 World Business Forum took place in New York. The theme for the conference was EXPONENTIAL age: an age of movements, of possibility, empowerment, and impact. The keynotes shared on how leaders and organizations can shift from an incremental to an exponential mindset to grasp opportunities and drive unprecedented growth. Learn how to empower radical innovation, liberate true potential, and execute on ever-more ambitious visions. Seth Godin, bestselling author, and change agent and one of the world’s most influential and insightful business thinkers was a speaker. In his presentation, he shared the old model of industrialization and scarcity was no more. He added that the amount of choices keeps increasing and due to accessibility to the internet and globalization, everyone can be your customer or competitor. It struck me on how it is necessary to be innovative, think locally and globally. He expressed how together we can create value and the importance of investing a culture on purpose.
Several speakers were so exceptional and outstanding, Whitney Johnson shared about “Building an A-Team” and spoked about disruptive innovation, to move forward, you have to move back and the importance to “learn, leap and repeat.” We are constantly in a learning curve. The most inspiring message to me was from Nobel prize winner and father of Behavioral Economics, Daniel Kahneman, one of the foremost psychological and economic thought leaders alive today. In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in behavioral economics – the psychology of judgment and decision-making. I was just intrigued by the extensive experience and intellectual acumen displayed by him. He talked about “The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment and Choices.” Intuition is thinking you know something you do not. One interesting revelation he shared, we thinking people who do not believe in something because we have reasons to believe is an illusion. Reasons matter much less than we think they do. He mentioned intuition is better if it is delayed and when we have some information. The conference created a welcoming environment for networking with renowned leaders across the globe. It promoted cross-cultural interaction and engagement.
Another experience was the ability to attend Harvard University through its Extension School program. I participated in the “Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiative” at Cambridge, Massachusetts where I met with well-renowned leaders across the globe with different perspective and insight with a great vision which influenced by critical thinking skills. Through the Bush Fellowship, I have been able to become a Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health, and Therapy (BBHT) approved supervisor. I completed 45 hours of training in clinical supervision. With this credential, I now supervise new counselors looking to accumulate hours and be licensed by the state by teaching them techniques and skills to be successful counselors through a culturally sensitive lens and evidence-based practices.
I am reminded of the significance of self-reflection and deeply examining my growth as a leader on an emotional, psychological, professional, physical, and intellectual scale. I have observed how we can negate the key component of this scale yet only focus on the ones we deem necessary. I often undermine the importance of maintaining a balance for all and feeding into all key areas.
One concept that is seemingly becoming an area of study and interest is epigenetic trauma. I have cultivated significant interest and continue to examine its impacts today. This concept expresses that organisms control the activities of their genes during their entire life transitioning between different genes depending on events occurring. The epigenetic phenomenon can be shared with other genes, and this transformation can have a profound effect on offspring and many generations to come. Initially, the test was carried out on mice until recently; a similar study was conducted on humans, the findings validated the reduction of Micro-RNA (common epigenetic mechanism involving small molecules) in people that were abused and in stressed mice.
It was a privilege to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture among others through the Bush Fellowship, it was on my checklist, and I was impressed with the overall edifice of the building, the layout, and the presentation of content as it relates to African American history and culture. To me, it was a continuation of my journey to Ghana visiting slave trade sites and learning about the African slave migration. I paused as I entered the building and prayed I have the strength to absorb all necessary information. The building had three different levels, and it highlights slave history, African American pop culture, series of the activism and movement leading to the Civil Rights Act. Few intriguing observations I made, in 1948, school segregation disallowed African American physicians and nurses from taking postgraduate courses in public hospitals, and in 1934 all schools were required to be racially segregated in in Kentucky, and in Indiana, marriage between whites and blacks were void, established in 1952. It is shocking to believe that this occurred just 66 years ago, putting that into perspective, one section that stood out for me was the story of Emmett Till, an African American young male gruesomely murdered. The courage of his mother, Mamie Till to have an open casket for the world to witness the brutality of his son’s death created a chain reaction and climate for activism, mobilizing, rallying and speaking against acts of racism and discrimination on a scale that was enormous. A personal favorite quote from her states “when people saw what had happened to my son, men [and women] stood up who had never stood up before.” As leaders, we can always be the catalyst for change that can have a ripple effect in our communities and the people we represent.
The fellowship allowed me to travel extensively to research places like Australia to learn about the richly diverse history of the Aboriginal folks, a culture rich in artifacts and plant use. It was an honor interviewing Henrietta Baird, from the Kuku Yalanji people, also called the rain forest people located Far North Queensland. As an Aboriginal herself, she faced several challenges including the ones encountered by her forefathers. She is creating lots of awareness through the arts and tourism. I visited the First Australian Museum learning about the over 500 “countries” the Aboriginals had. My visit to Ghana, Australia, England, France, Barbados and the National Museum of African American History and Culture gave me a broader perspective on slavery, migration chain analysis, and impact and its connection to generational and epigenetic trauma.
I was honored to be the closing keynote speaker at the 2019 Multilingual Learner Summit: “Bridging Communities and Global Opportunities” organized by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and their distinguished partners. The summit convenes experts in business and education to engage in critical dialogue about the state of Minnesota’s multilingual learners. I shared on my presentation on the importance of embracing multilingualism. The conference is an example of many speaking engagements I have conducted through my work and fellowship.
My journey as a Bush Fellow came with few recognitions and accolades, some of these include the 2017 Voices Magazine Award for Community Advocacy and the 2017 St. Cloud Times 5 Under 40 Award, an award that honors individuals with exquisite innovation and involvement within their work. A special award that will be bestowed on me in September 2019 by my alma mater, St. Cloud State University is the Alumni Service Award; the award is presented to undergraduate or graduates alumni of the University who are distinguished in their contributions to the University and the community. I am humbled by these awards and will remain forever grateful to the Bush Foundation for all these wonderful experiences. My immense gratitude goes to the wonderful staff at the Bush Foundation for their guidance, coaching and mentoring and to my Bush Fellowship Coach, Simonich Heather, for helping transform my thoughts. The journey will not be possible and successful without the fervent and unconditional support from my family, friends, and mentors across the globe. I will continue to focus on school, my research on epigenetic trauma, minority mental health, and immigrant and refugee mental health; train and supervise new counselors on providing culturally congruent and trauma-informed care to minorities, work at the Mayor’s Office and commitment with the Jugaad Leadership Program to improve race relations and decrease the economic gap in Central Minnesota.