Location: Charlotte, NC

Job Title: Clinical Research Coordinator

Education: University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy

Degree: Bachelor of Science

Nnemka Nwajiaku, GIVEN ’22

Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!

I am a Nigerian American born and raised in South Carolina. I love talking walks, coffee, music, fashion, I’m a foodie, and love spending time with friends and family.

Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?

I work on various oncology trials by helping to enter and clean data and correspond with the sponsors of those trials. I actually fell into it, I had never heard about the industry until I was offered my current position. I am passionate about public and women’s health, creating communities for young adult black Catholics, and becoming the best version of me.

What women inspire you, and why?

I’m inspired by so many women. My friends, family, saints, and Catholic female leaders like Lila Rose. They inspire me to challenge myself, to continue to strive for better and to nurture my relationship with Jesus.

Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?

Absolutely! I depend on so many friends, mentors, and family members for emotional support, career advice, life advice and so much more. They support me by being good listeners, giving good advice and encouraging me to do good.

What is the best advice/encouragement you’ve received about vocational discernment?

The best advice about vocational discernment that I discovered is that regardless of what the vocation we are always called to love and serve others. So instead of worrying about what vocation you’re called to you can prepare by learning how to love others and serve them well.

Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?

My favorite devotion would have to be adoration. I love sitting and talking with God about my dreams, plans, concerns, and everything that’s going on in my life. Another would be the consecration to Saint Joseph. My life changed so much after doing it the first time I would highly recommend anyone to try it.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

My favorite quote has to be from Pope Benedict XVI when he said “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort, you were made for greatness.”

What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN forum?

The key takeaway I got from GIVEN was that everyone has a unique and individual gift to give to this world. This gift is specifically for you, and no one else can do what you were made to do. And without you, it is impossible for this mission to be done.

What were some of the most impactful experiences from the leadership forum and mentoring sessions?

There were so many impactful experiences from the GIVEN forum. All of the speakers were incredible, especially Father John Burns and Sister Josephine Garrett. The women in my small group were all wonderful representations of what young women can contribute to the church and to the world. My mentor is now officially my lifelong mentor and friend, and I couldn’t have asked for a better role model. Participating in this forum has changed my life, and I highly recommend any young woman looking to discover their gifts and how to use them for the glory of God, to apply to this program. The church needs your unique and individual gifts no matter how great or small they may seem to you.

What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.

My GIVEN action plan is a ministry called Young, Black, and Catholic. The mission is to create a community for young adult black catholics aged 18-39 to grow in their faith and love of God alongside others with the same goal. I hope to organize an event where all young adult black catholics in the country can unite, connect, and grow in holiness.

Could you tell us a bit about what motivated or led you to develop this action plan? Was this something that you had on your heart prior to this past year or was it something you developed through the GIVEN program?

I was motivated to develop this action plan mostly from my own experience seeking relationships and community in the Catholic Church. I went to almost all of the young adult groups in my city and I was always the only black person or one of two. It’s important to note that skin color isn’t one’s total identity, however people gravitate towards familiarity and I wanted to create a community that supported people that looked like me so that they would feel welcomed and seen within the Church. My action plan was clarified through the GIVEN program. Since 2016, I had a desire to create a community within my school for minority professionals, and after I graduated in 2020, I had a desire to create a community for young Africans in my city. However, neither of those plans came to fruition. GIVEN was the catalyst for my desire to create community for people like me, looking for genuine young adult friendships.

How did you grow throughout this year as you worked on your action plan? Were there any moments where you had doubts or felt like you had taken on too much of a challenge? If so, how did you overcome them?

I grew so much throughout the mentorship year. I’m naturally a shy person, and I had to step out of my comfort zone and break my parents’ rules by talking to strangers! But every risk I took motivated me to take another. I met so many people I would have never known had I not pursued my action plan. I am still experiencing doubts, but I know that with God all things are possible and if it is his will, it will be done. Practically, I try to keep in mind that I am not alone in my mission, and that if this is what God has called me to do He will see it through. I pray about the success of Young, Black and Catholic almost every night and I take action when inspired.

What were some of the fruits you saw from your Action Plan? What did you find most fulfilling in this process?

One of the best fruits from my action plan has been my mentor and the friendships and relationships I have made along the way. I’ve met so many amazing people doing great work in the Church and it inspires me to continue to pursue this mission. What I find most fulfilling in this process is discovering and using my gifts. I enjoy planning and organizing events, meeting new people and discussing my vision for the future of young adult black Catholics and I’m excited for what the future holds!