Some people always know what they want to do with their life from a young age but Anayawa was not that person. In fifth grade, when asked what she wanted to be when she was older, she wrote about five different careers. It was only after completing school, that she made a plan on how she was going to become a Scientist, Artist, Writer and Humanitarian/Philanthropist.
Anayawa was born in Kalulushi, Zambia and at the age of three her family moved to Canada where she started school. As a shy introvert life was somewhat difficult for her.She was an Artist first and used to make clothes for her dolls and drew for the class and during her lower primary school years, a substitute teacher introduced her to the magic of science by making them have their own science fair. Anayawa learnt that Science was fun and it did not have to be difficult the only trick was making an effort
When she moved back to Lusaka, Zambia, apart from being class artist, Anayawa became a member of the Junior Engineers Technicians and Scientists Club which increased her love for science. Adapting to the Zambian school system was a challenge and she had to learn her own personal study style which involved reading, note taking and if possible, drawing a schematic or creating a visual project. At some point in her life Anayawa struggled with depression – writing poetry and scripts helped her cope. She actually got pretty good at it, such that she was awarded nationally for a short film script she wrote to raise HIV/AIDS awareness.
At the completion of secondary school, Anayawa was advised to become a doctor because there is always work in health care she enjoyed helping people however, getting into Medical School was not an easy task.” I failed, tried again and got a scholarship to the Czech Republic and once I finally got into Medical School, I was miserable It was very stressful and I did not like spending a lot of time in a hospital environment.”
Luckily, she discovered Public Health but still needed an outlet for her creative energy so, she did what millennial’s do, went online and found fashion design lessons at flexible hours and achieved balance. It was public health during the week, fashion Fridays, Bible study, and an occasional trip to appease her love for travel and adventure. It continued even during her masters, but instead of fashion classes, Anayawa was making garments for clients and designing for online brands.
In her family, obtaining a PhD was not an option, she knew she wanted to study cervical cancer so Anayawa found a professor in Antwerp, Belgium that was interested in taking her on as his doctoral student.” Most people believe that doing a PhD means you are very intelligent, but the truth is we just don’t give up easily”. During her doctoral study, she entered an international jewellery design competition and won at second attempt and it led to her work with the Jewellery and Gemstone Association of Zambia and for the first time, she was genuinely happy and started looking forward to living.
Through her activities in academia, part-time jobs, entering contests, achieving personal goals, Anayawa was building a character.” Nowadays, people assume I am a confident feminist which far from true. I will never forget the first interview appointment I tried to arrange for research – I was extremely nervous; I could barely say my name but with time I became comfortable entering an office and asking for what I want. Equally, attending daily meetings as a volunteer, made me learn to speak up and realize that my opinion matters”.
Life has taught Anayawa the that It is OK not to know where you are going and make plans but do not plan forever – search for the opportunities (or create them), then start where you are, with what you have, even if you are scared because trying is the first step to wining. Ignoring the people who discourage you is very important to get ahead.It may be unconventional but your life’s purpose does not have to be just one thing.
“I am a Medical Scientist who is currently volunteering as a front-line worker in the fight against COVID-19. I am also a post-doctoral fellow looking to find ways of adapting to climate change, and a fashion designer working in the jewellery industry, designing for clothing brands and clients. Looking back, I wonder if younger me is impressed with where I am today but this story is not over yet”.