Zambuko Advisory: An ode to my champions

I’m excited to share the launch of my venture, Zambuko Advisory! Before I tell you all about it, I want to reflect on the journey that led me to it in the first place.

Zambuko is a word from my language in Zimbabwe, Shona, that means bridge. I chose this name because it represents me in a lot of ways. My life story is and continues to be shaped by a host of people who believe in me, and are the bridges I need to help me cross the fiery waters of uncertainty, fight for my opportunities and achieve my goals.

You see, my family can very well describe me as a stubborn and rebellious teenager, but not in the way that most teenagers rebelled. I did not sneak out or run up my parents’ phone bill. I was an intellectual rebel. I exhausted my family with my big ideas and dreams all the time and challenged them on their narrow views of success for me, especially as a girl. My life, however, changed when I met people who listened to my ideas and dreams for the first time and believed in them.

This was at my admission into the United States Student Achievers Program (USAP). USAP is a competitive program that enables intellectually talented and economically disadvantaged young people in my country and other countries to get into top colleges around the world. From the day I walked into that program, I felt understood. For the first time in my life, when I said, “I want to find the cure for AIDS”, nobody ridiculed me! Through coaching, counseling and a lot of hard work I ended up with a full scholarship to the University of Chicago.

USAP was my first lesson in how much it matters to have champions who believe in you and your ambitions. More than believing in you, they enable your dreams by tooling you with what is necessary to chase them and use their resources to open doors for you.

My undergraduate mentor, Dr. Fumni Olopade, an incredible oncologist, will forever be a key player in my story. She took me under her wings and showed me that African women too can rule a discipline! For four years of my undergrad she counselled me and used her resources and access to help me fully discover what my passion really was, shaping me into the healthcare professional that I am today. I used to tell her that I wanted to be exactly like her when I grow up, but she would tell me, “No, you actually want to be the best version of yourself.” She was right.

From this experience and many others after, I learnt that having champions is especially important for people who come from where I come from. Without access to people, platforms and spaces to realize your potential, you are likely not to get far in life. This is the reason why I started volunteering for MBA application coaching a few years back with a non-profit. Through this experience I got to use my personal access and knowledge to empower others to achieve their goals.

This journey has led me to Zambuko Advisory. I partnered with a close friend of mine, Dozie Ibekwe, to realize our shared dream of expanding and democratizing access to higher educational opportunities. We are an advisory firm that coaches MBA and graduate education bound candidates to success in their application journeys. Our main focus is telling the stories of underrepresented minorities, international students, and candidates from non-traditional professional backgrounds.

While the MBA consulting industry is a crowded market, no one addresses or understands our target demographic better than we do. That is because they are basically us, a few years back.

We are both immigrant graduates of top ranked MBA and other graduate programs – Cambridge Harvard and Michigan. Having gotten into MBA programs from non-traditional backgrounds of science and engineering, we know what it takes to be competitive for admission into these institutions with unusual profiles. Most of all, Dozie and I have a combined 10 years of experience in coaching MBA and other graduate school applicants into their dream schools with a lot of success. We are confident that we are the “zambuko” or bridge that people like us need to be able to achieve their goals.

I know for a fact that I would not be here if it weren’t for the people who counseled me, who cheered me on, and most of all, who used their experiences and resources to enable my dreams, and continue to do so. Zambuko Advisory is an ode to those people, and it will advance the fight for a fairer world where everybody has a shot at their goals and dreams.

Check out our website for more information.

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