Deteriorating environment has become the biggest problem of the world. We recently had an opportunity of interviewing a socially very active and inspiring cultural influencer ‘Edidiong’. She has done so much research on environmental science and also been involved in some major environmental projects.
Pro Media Mag : First of all tell please introduce yourself to our readers.
Edidiong : I’m a proud first-generation Nigerian–American with strong cultural ties that impacts the community and influences cultural awareness. I’m an alumna of Texas Southern University where I obtained a BS in Chemistry in 2008 and an MS in Environmental Toxicology in 2013. I have worked in the environmental industry ranging from environmental compliance to environmental research for over 10 years. Known as a “Cultural Influencer”, I have a passion for giving back to the community & for connecting cross-cultural ties within the community. Because of my zeal to share my culture with others I founded, the Akwa-Ibom Young Professionals, an organization made to empower, preserve, and educate people on the unique Akwa-Ibom people and culture. I currently serve as the Director of Events for the Bobsled Federation of Nigeria and host and produce “It’s Our Time Talk Show” and co-host “Fresh Perspective” Talk Show which airs weekly on a local TV Network. The talk shows televise young professionals from the African Diaspora and focuses on bridging the gap between Africans and African-Americans through resources, education, etc. As the host, I strive to not only educate and empower the community but, I also promote culture and strive to be “The Voice of Professionals in the African Diaspora”. I’ve had the opportunity to serve in various leadership roles impacting the presence of minorities in the cultural and arts spaces including working in the City of Sugar Land Cultural Arts Division, serving as the Networking and Logistics Director of African Fashion Week Houston, Community Liaison for the West African Film Festival, and Professional Networking Co-Director of the Professional Association of Young Africans. Known as a is a trailblazer, a mentor, and advocate who is driven to accomplish my goal of always leaving a positive and influential imprint on anything I’m involved in. I’m a fan of the arts, sports, fashion, and enjoys serving at her church.I
Pro Media Mag : Who or what inspired you to get into this industry?
Edidiong : When my parents immigrated to the United States it was solely for studying abroad on scholarship, with the intent of returning “home” to become the influencers, movers, and shakers back home. For some in my parents’ generation, they made it back home and some did that while others didn’t quite breakthrough as they expected due to economic reasons, change in-country leadership, etc. My parents are one of the many that stayed abroad and raised a family, made their mark here in the US, and were part of a growing community that had shared experiences. I always admire the immigrant community not because my parents are immigrants, but because of the will, determination, and boldness to leave their home country, start from scratch, and by any means necessary find a way to make it in a foreign country where there are several obstacles they encounter daily. I look at my parents and see the successes, failures, dreams, and realities in their eyes, in their words, and in their mannerisms. They are who inspired me to achieve even greater things than they did. My mother is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s in Nursing and my father obtained a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology and also has a BS in Petroleum Engineering and is also a Respiratory Therapist. I’ve always had a passion in the health industry and my parents are very instrumental in pursuing my career in the Environmental Industry.
Pro Media Mag : What kind of impact higher studies in environmental science has made on you?
Edidiong : Understanding how everything is connected is key for me. So when it comes to environmental science from research to compliance I’ve had the opportunity to see how one impacts the other. The greatest impact has been relaying this information to everyday citizens, students, family, and friends. They not only understand the importance of environmental science, but they take personal responsibility to recycle, dispose of waste properly, and to educate their network on choosing environmentally friendly decisions. For me it’s rewarding because I get to see how everything is connected and how we all have a role to play when it comes to safeguarding our communities and our environment.
Pro Media Mag : What was the reason behind launching Akwa-Ibom Young Professionals?
Edidiong : Well, I’m a proud first-generation Nigerian–American with strong cultural ties. Growing up my parents instilled in me the importance of knowing where I come from and preserving our culture. From cultural dancing on various stages to serving my community, I’ve come to realize that your culture is an extension of who you are. I’ve always had a passion of knowing more about “my people”. When I say “my people” I mean it in both a specific and broad sense. Specifically, I am from the “Annang tribe” second-largest ethnic group located in Akwa-Ibom State, Nigeria. Akwa-Ibom State’s became its own state 31 years ago after being formerly connected with Cross River State. Our root language is Efik and there are several dialects such as Annang, Oron, Ibibio, and Eket, just to name a few. As an American born Nigerian I fit into a category that’s unique in a sense where I’m learning several cultures simultaneously. What do I mean? It means for me specifically, I am learning my own culture, the American Culture, Black Culture, and “Immigrant culture” all at the same time. Because of my passion to share my culture with others that is one of the reasons why Akwa-Ibom Young Professionals came about. We have so many young professionals doing amazing things that are in the Diaspora and this organization is a way to educate, empower, and promote Akwa-Ibom’s rich culture and heritage.
Pro Media Mag : How much you have succeeded so far in changing the mindset of masses and spreading awareness?
Edidiong : As a Cultural Influencer I understand the responsibility of ensuring that I impact my community in a positive sense. I believe in being intentional from the clothes you wear to the food you eat. I believe people are more intrigued by the bold patterns I wear or the specific restaurants I choose for meetings or events. Everything is intentional in order to expose people to my culture and have them partake in my heritage. I have seen friends attend traditional Nigerian weddings, tried new African restaurants, and even get into “Afrobeat” music and part of that stemmed from an initial conversation that starts with culture. From there they begin to share their experiences and educate their networks about my heritage and my culture.
Pro Media Mag : Our readers would like to know about your achievements?
Edidiong : Recently I was nominated to be in the Nigerian Diaspora Who’s Who 2020 as well as the Marquis Who’s Who of America 2020. I was highlighted as one of the top 10 women in the African Diaspora making an impact the community for International Women’s Day 2019 by Afrocentrik TV, and also recognized amongst the Top Rising Africans Star Award Under 40 by the Young African Professionals and Who’s Who in Black Houston 2018. I’m a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participants Scholar and United Health Care/Pacific Care African-American Scholar. My substantial involvement with Environmental Science Research not only received research funding and support from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Special Program NASA Science and Technology Institute Fellowship, Air Force Research Laboratory Minority Leadership Fellowship (AFLMLP), and Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Fellowship. member of the Houston Area Urban League Young Professionals (HAULYP) where she has been recognized for her leadership efforts in “The Movement” by being awarded National Urban League Young Professional (NULYP) Outstanding Southern Region Young Professional Member of the Year Nominee, 2012 HAULYP Member of the Year, and she served as the HAULYP Social and Cultural Chair.
Pro Media Mag : What’s up next?
Edidiong : For the longest people have coined me as the “Connector” and I take honor in the nickname. I love that I can leverage my relationships and integrate them into a vast network that unites individuals with various interests. With that said I’m currently in the process of launching a lifestyle brand that is centered around culture, empowerment, and purpose. The idea is for people to connect with one another on a cultural level where similarities and differences are shared, understand, and expressed in various forms, networks, and ideas. In addition, I plan to also launch a consulting company that will provide services to non-profits, business owners, etc. in various industries ranging from environmental to grass-roots organizing.
Pro Media Mag : Any advice for our readers?
Edidiong : You can have more than one career occurring at the same time. Don’t limit yourself or constrain yourself to one thing. If you find yourself always being passionate about a topic or thing, maybe it’s time to pursue that thing and give it a try, but if you never do it you’ll never know. My parents showed me that success is what you make it be and not what others define it for you. At the end of the day, you were created with gifts and talents meant to be exhausted and shared with the world. Don’t talk yourself out of the person God created you to be.