When she reflected on the transition from being at home with her family to independence Njum revealed, “It gets lonely at times, I miss my family, but it was time.”
Her story like many others finds the one-time Brooklyn native whose family settled into Elmont when she was a teenager, now moving on and beginning a new life elsewhere.
We Started Here is a new initiative by The Excelsior to elevate the work and voices of young professionals, students and emerging leaders by way of Elmont, Long Island.
It was a pleasure to speak with Njum — a daughter, sister, young professional and a true visionary. She and her family founded Chi Chi Foundation, a non-profit organization which strives to grant wishes to women of color and/or low income families battling breast cancer.
Now living in Kew Gardens, Njum hopes to secure a physical location for the organization soon and to start locally – yet one day expand the organization’s reach to the Tri-state area.
And without further ado, here is our interview:
First Name: Njum
Schools attended: Tabernacle Elementary School, Brooklyn
Jamaica High School, Queens
Elmont Memorial High School, Elmont
SUNY Albany, New York
What do you do these days?
I work in hospitals as an IT (information technology) consultant. I conduct training for physicians, nurses and medical staff on how to use electronic medical records.
What are your career goals?
My goal is working independently and to focus on successfully operating our non-profit full-time.
How would you describe your work ethic? Where does it come from?
Focused. I try not to procrastinate. I give my all. There’s a lot of people who look up to me and to us with this nonprofit initiative. Personally, I’m inspired.
Tell us about The Chi Chi Foundation:
Our Mother, Chinyere Kalu (Chi Chi) was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic Breast Cancer, which she bravely fought for 7 years. Unfortunately, she lost the battle and she passed away on May 15 2013. Our mother aspired to do many things of which she was not able to accomplish due to her condition as well as financial difficulties. Despite these limitations our mother’s legacy lives on through this organization.
What else do you want people to know about Chi Chi Foundation?
As you may know, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women in America. According to the American Cancer Society, White women have a higher incidence of breast cancer than African American women. However, African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
The Chi Chi Foundation strives to bridge this gap by granting wishes to breast cancer survivors, especially those whom are minorities and/or from low-income areas.
What are some challenges you have faced?
Our fundraiser event earlier this year — It was our first event and we didn’t know how or if it would come together. But it was a success. We had our doubts. We said “we don’t have funds.” We didn’t think we could find anybody to sponsor, but in the end we had sponsors.
All we had to do was ask. I think starting and learning along the way is the best part! Just start. Ask. A lot of times we think we decide the answer. For our event we asked, and people said yes. We don’t know the other opportunities. Try, no matter what. Try first before you rule it out.
The best advice you’ve ever gotten:
The best advice that I have received is, “What follows the ‘I am’ will always come looking for you.” So that means that nothing about you is an accident. We shouldn’t focus on our downfalls. Instead of saying I am a failure…we should say I am successful…Instead of saying I am stressed…say I am blessed. I used to get caught up about what’s wrong about myself until I realized words are powerful. Speak Life Over Yourself.
Many thanks to this young social leader for a wonderful interview. Keep your eyes peeled for Njum as she chases her dreams!