Uzezi Ernest is an Sustainable Development Goals advocate and Fashion Designer with more than five years of social work experience that includes working as a program coordinator, team lead, sponsorship coordinator with NGOs, volunteering in youth advocacy, child welfare, event planning and management for organizations and non-profits.
Currently working as the program coordinator for Street to School Initiative, an NGO with over seven years of experience supporting the educational programs of underprivileged children in Nigeria. She is the CEO of Glorious Apparel Fashion, a bespoke clothing line for women and girls.
Apart from being a fashion designer, Uzezi is committed to educating young people—including young girls—about gender issues, building their capacity, personal development and helping them understand their purpose. She does this by leading sensitization programs in schools and mentoring the young people within her sphere of influence. So far, she has reached out to over 1,000 young people. Uzezi is determined to build uncommon competencies and constantly seeks opportunities to collaborate with great minds.
She shares her Ruby Girl story with the team
Did your childhood prepare you in any way for what you do now? Tell us more about your growing up
My childhood was quite an interesting one. Growing up, I have always been concerned about people and also been volunteering for several positions. As the Assembly Prefect in Primary and Secondary school before I became the Senior Prefect in SSS 3. I have also been fashion conscious since I was a child. When I was about seven years of age, I took one of the window curtains in the house, and redesigned it in my own way to wrap my body, that was fashion to me. More, so I was a very shy person when growing up, I found it difficult to fully express myself in public, however, I overcame that when I began to intentionally face crowds to preach the gospel, deliver seminars to undergraduate and secondary school students.
What inspired you to join advocacy
My advocacy journey officially began as an undergraduate in 100 level. My elder brother has an NGO that advocates for children and vulnerable population so I assisted in outreaches, attended seminars, conferences all about advocacy. My interest began to stir up as I participated in all through my undergraduate days. Going forward, after graduating from the university, I designed a personal development project that advocate for the needs of 466 vulnerable children.
How has the journey been since you started working as a program coordinator for Street to School Initiative?
The journey has been an interesting one, learning, unlearning and relearning.
You’ve been at the forefront of helping NGOs on their program, what are the things you learnt and would you say you have grown?
So far, I have more understanding in advocacy, delegation and team work. And yes, I have grown.
What are some challenges you experience as a social worker?
Some of the challenges I experienced as a social worker is the naive nature of some of the families we work with and also most of the times, there are limited or no funds to implement well-meaning community development projects.
As a youth advocate, what would you want the government to put in place in ensuring our youths are towing the right path?
The government needs to invest into youths that desire to go into entrepreneurship but are limited by guidance and funding. They should organize trainings on entrepreneurship and life coping skills, as well as make available internship opportunities.
If there is one thing you could do to make the world a better place for the next generation of youths and children, what would that be?
I would do all I can to be the best by showing love and offering help ways I can, to all the people and in all the places I can. I would make sure there are employment opportunities for the masses and would also engage young people to venture into creating businesses.
Any final word for young women who aspire to be where you are right now but lacks the opportunity and support?
Search carefully and mingle with such people you aspire to be like. Learn from them, ask questions for clarity. In no time, you’ll begin to attract the support and opportunities you desire.
Mention three women that inspire you and why
My mum, Mrs. Onome Ernest– she is so supportive of my dreams, kind hearted and very humble.
Mrs Oluwatosin Olowoyeye-Taiwo (Founder, Street to School Initiative) – She has a large heart and is full of so much love to impact humanity for good. Kari Jobe – Gospel Musician – She sings with so much authority and power, her songs bless my soul deeply.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see myself doing more in empowering young people, bringing them into a place of purpose by God’s grace.
If you were given the opportunity to address a group of young girls just setting out in their career, what will be your advice to them?
My advice to them would be to remain focused, keep learning by serving and standing on the shoulders of giants. More so, never to worry about anything but keep doing the right things!