My name is Vanessa
Malize. I am a 24-year-old who is highly impassioned about helping others,
providing my service to under-served communities and I strive for the
empowerment of women.
I have so many positive
qualities but I will describe myself as highly passionate. My passion for
helping others is what drives me to want to become a Physician. Medicine for me
is not just about the practice of healing but being able to interact with people
and being part of the solution.  Being a
physician will provide me a platform to address the health disparities
influencing our communities and to be able to speak to the issues concerning women.
This passion is also what motivated me to become a Fostering Futures Mentor and
a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Children of Essex County, New
Jersey, USA.
As a CASA volunteer, I was appointed by the court, sworn in
and trained to advocate for children who have been removed from their homes due
to neglect or abuse. I serve as an advocate and guardian ad litem to
investigate and provide feedback to the court as to what possible solutions
would be in the best interests of a child. Children in foster care are faced
with issues such as adjusting to the many changes in their lives, disruption in
their relationship with their family and trauma from abuse that is sometimes
physical or sexual. My job is to protect the welfare of the child and ensure
she has the opportunity to thrive by getting needed services (health,
educational and mental)
There is always an
impact on the emotional well-being of a person who deals closely with children
that have experienced trauma. But being a CASA has equipped me with ways to
navigate this. We are trained on how to build resiliency and how to recognize
vicarious trauma in our lives and to develop coping strategies. Being an
advocate for a neglected or abused child is all about dedication and compassion.
This is very instrumental and motivates me to get results.
Wisdom is essential
to my achievement. Wisdom is learning something from everyone that passes
through our lives and understanding that hardships and tribulations are painful
but priceless to building us into the person that we are supposed to be.
I have had so many
challenges in my 24 years that I have had to overcome. My Perseverance stems
from having a positive outlook on life. I know that in any give situation, I
have a choice between fear and love and I always choose love. I have also built
my resilience and adaptability which has helped me to not only persevere but to
think of ways to overcome any challenge I am faced with. Being an advocate for
others is all about perseverance, sometimes I stumble on road blocks and it
always seems so easy to want to give up, but I choose to preserve because
failure is never an option.
My mother has had the greatest influence on
me. My mum had us while juggling demands with work, life, school and raising 3
kids. She was able to find a seamless balance. I think this is so empowering in
so many ways because it shows that you don’t have to give up your goals and
career aspirations. Women need to empower themselves and know that they can
manage a delicate balance with all the directions life pulls you. Women are
strong and tenacious.
Dr. Cheryl Holly
Dr. Holly is my boss
at Rutgers University. Dr. Holly is an acclaimed clinical research scientist
and author of numerous books. The most striking thing that I have learnt from
working with Dr. Holly for the last 3 years is the importance of being humble
and staying true to oneself. So many times we let our accomplishments and
inflated egos cloud our judgment and deviate from the goals we set. It is
important to keep a level head and recognize that our abilities come from
someone greater than ourselves and to utilize these abilities to improving not
just our lives but the lives of others.
Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix is an
Olympic Gold Medalist in the Women’s Track and Field competition. Allyson is
someone I look up to as an empowerment for Black women and also in leading a
healthy lifestyle. Allyson had to be carried off the track when she experienced
an injury to her hamstring and fell to the ground during a competition. Ms.
Felix did not let this keep her from competing especially with the Olympics in
sight. She never gave up. She fought hard to make her way back to the track and
I believe this is a classic example of resilience. It doesn’t matter what
challenges we face and how insurmountable they seem in that moment. I just have
to remember Allyson’s story to remind myself that I can overcome any challenge.
Chizor Malize
My mum has been an instrumental role model in
my life. I remember when my mum first spoke to me about the vision she had from
Brandzone Consulting. She could have easily dismissed her ideas and given up
when faced with the rigors of being an entrepreneur but she forged ahead. I am
so taken by the fact that she was able to implement what was conceived out of
her passion and love for Branding and developed her own Strategic Marketing
company.  I find such strength from this
and I continue to be inspired by her achievements. She drives me to seek the
best opportunities and work hard to actualize my goals.
My vision for the
next 5 years is to become a Physician. Becoming a medical doctor is not about
affixing the words M.D. to my name. I hope to be able to work with the UN or
WHO and other health organizations that provide services to medically under-served
communities. I hope to bridge the gap in health care disparities and address
the regression of health care in African countries. Being a doctor is about the
intricacies of patient-physician interactions and using this platform to
improve the quality and delivery of health care in third world countries.
One of the major challenges African women
contend with has to do with inequality and gender stratification. Many African
women are raised to feel inferior to their male counterparts and are told they
are not allowed to dream beyond or be more successful than their male
counterparts. This poses a problem because this mentality is passed on from one
generation to another. Also, women tend to put down their fellow women who they
deem them a threat.
I believe that women should work together to
empower other women and should lend a hand to raise each other up. This
mentality of inferiority to men has been passed down and ingrained in the minds
of young girls. I tell the girls I mentor that they can be anything they want
to be. It doesn’t matter if engineering is a male dominated field. If you feel
passionate about it, work towards it and strive to distinguish yourself.
African women need to understand our strength and tenacity. Women have such an
ability to make an impact on the world but the first step is getting rid of
that subservient mentality.

I enjoy watching
British crime noir dramas and spending time with family, traveling and
volunteering in my local community.
I believe that
African Women have the vision and the drive that is instrumental to the
developmental process of Africa as a continent. I believe that with
empowerment, African women would have the ability to overcome poverty and
strive for success. Together, we can move the nation forward and be the voice
of others.
If I had the privilege, I will bring together
incentives that allow for networking, mentorship and peer support programs that
help young like-minded people to make a positive impact through enterprise, innovation
and service to others. In essence, women helping other women actualize their
best possible selves.
 I advise African
Woman to be fearless in their dreams. It is important that we rid ourselves of
destructive fears and doubts that we are not good enough and to instead
constantly practice positive affirmation. There is nothing greater than
believing in oneself and not submitting to the gender constraints and
ideologies that are unduly put on women. I will advise that women understand
their prospects and capabilities and never be afraid actualize their dreams despite
challenges that may present.