Alumni Award Winner, Pascalyn Omotosho, On Inspiring Others To Take Chances
It’s an honor to receive this award and to have the opportunity to share my story with you all!
To truly understand how much this award means to me, I need to take you back to when I was 14. It was 2017, and I had recently immigrated to the United States from my native country, Nigeria. I had just graduated from high school and was looking forward to starting college in Nigeria. However, new plans arose. Instead of enrolling in college, my parents wanted me to return to high school because they believed it would be an opportunity for me to get used to the American educational system and adjust to my new life!
So after years of hard work and even celebrating my graduation with friends, I had to do it all over again.It was a tough blow; I don’t know about you, but high school was not something I wanted to relive.
But then I thought, “How can I turn this obstacle into an opportunity? Maybe I can use this experience to make new friends in a new school and become acclimated to my new American culture.”
When I graduated from high school in Nigeria, I was on a path to becoming a doctor, and I intended to enroll in health science classes to keep me on that track, but once again, life had other plans for me.
All upper-level health and science classes in my new school were at capacity so I had to make another choice. That’s when a neighbor introduced me to NAF. Even though it wasn’t part of my plan, I decided to enroll in the Academy to make connections and broaden my cultural horizons.
Joining NAF’s Academy of Finance at North Rockland High School was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It opened my eyes to a world of business and marketing. NAF helped me discover new skills and set a goal for myself to become the Chief Marketing Officer for a Fortune 500 company like Deloitte, KPMG.
The beauty of my NAF experience was much more than gaining a quality education but also having access to a community of people who inspired me and were dedicated to my personal growth and success.
After graduating from high school, again, I joined NAF’s alumni network that has made a significant impact on my life. Through the NAF network, I won a college scholarship that significantly contributed to the tuition and costs of my education at Rockland Community College. It also connected me with my mentor, Carmen Bermudez, a Network Operations Director at Verizon and a fellow NAF alumna!
Without NAF, I don’t think I would ever have met a mentor like Carmen, one of the strongest women in business that I’ve had the honor of meeting. Carmen has taught me many valuable lessons about navigating the business world, being a leader, and showing up as your full authentic self, every day.
And in Carmen, I found not only a mentor but also a friend. Together we have celebrated milestones in my educational journeys and other personal accomplishments like my graduation from college with my Associate’s Degree, her presentation at a Verizon leadership event, birthdays, and more.
With that, I would like to thank Carmen for being a supportive, thoughtful mentor. And thank you to the NAF community for recognizing me with this award.
At this time, I would like to also thank my parents for sacrificing everything they have to give my siblings and me a better future, my siblings, Valentine and Valentina, my favorite teacher of all time, Ms. Steele, Min Sushi, Rockland Community College, North Rockland Central School District, and my friends, Rhishma and Michelle, for encouraging me and helping me to grow.
I stand before you today because of the support and encouragement of so many. So, I want you all to take a moment and think about someone in your life that has helped you accomplish your goals. Maybe it’s a teacher you’ve had or a mentor who has been there for you along the way. If you don’t have someone like that, think about the kind of person you would have liked to have had in your corner, guiding, supporting, answering questions, or just being your friend. Now, think about how you can be that person for someone else.
I met the people who have played those roles in my life because of NAF. As I reflect on the unconventional journey that has led me here, I am grateful to everyone who supported me and encouraged me to do my best. This award is a reflection of my hard work and my motivation to keep going after my dreams.
It is also my motivation to inspire others to take chances and try new things. It may not be immigrating to a new country and learning to navigate a new culture and academic path as it was for me. Still, you might just surprise yourself, even if you think you have it all planned out, because that new path or obstacle you’re facing might just be the opportunity that changes your life.