Meet Nnamdi | “ColorStack is where I found my tribe”

April 6, 2022

Nnamdi, a student at George Mason University, sees the arts as central to his life journey. “It’s funny, a lot of the time, in school, I was always doing something related to the arts or to writing, speaking, etc. and that’s where I usually scored highest on my tests.” However, once it came time to attend college and pick a major, Nnamdi began to think about his long-term goals and what career he wanted to pursue. “I was thinking, what’s a major that gives me the freedom to do creative stuff on the side, but still make a good amount of money at the same time? I was extremely worried about financial security because, coming from a Nigerian family, I doubted that my family would support me while I did anything that was not STEM-related in college. And so I settled on computer science.”

Nnamdi started off studying computer science his first year at George Mason, doing pretty well for himself during this time. However, come Sophomore year, he began to labor under the load. He confesses, “I got distracted my sophomore year, and the reason why was because I founded an organization. I got really involved in extracurriculars and a lot of habits I formed I started losing because I got so focused on ‘I’m gonna get an internship, I’m gonna start helping people, I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do that…oh, I’m a strong student, I don’t need to study.’” He continues, “I was thinking of either changing my major or dropping out last semester. I was seriously considering it, and then I found ColorStack on TikTok.”

ColorStack facilitated a shift for Nnamdi regarding his sense of belonging. “[The ColorStack] community has been really helpful any time I need a plug in something, anytime I need advice on something. And it’s not always that, it’s the little things. Sometimes I just need to be around the right kind of people, because I feed off of energy like that naturally as a person. Being in that area helped me to think, ‘I see all these people doing this, I should try that,” or, ‘this is really cool, I can apply it in this way.’” In particular, Nnamdi shouts out the Sprout Fellowship, a 10-week program designed to reduce the attrition of ColorStack members in computer science programs across the country, for encouraging him to stick with the major. He also credits the #design channel in the ColorStack Family community on Slack with helping him bring his whole self to his work. “Through #design, I started some of my own design projects as well, which I thought was really helpful, and I built my portfolio.” He carries on, “I started focusing on the things that make me feel like I’m pouring into myself.”

In fact, it was through the #design channel that he heard from a fellow ColorStack member about an opportunity at Disney as a Technical Project Management intern. “I’m very appreciative of my friends and community that uplift me, and I’m very big about entering into spaces where talking about your goals and needs is welcomed because you never know who could be listening or is willing to help. I’m very big on ‘pouring into each other’s cups’ — I like helping people and appreciate any help I can get. That moment with [my friend in ColorStack] was a big example of that.”

If there’s one piece of advice Nnamdi stands by throughout this journey, it’s this: “Build your tribe.” He explains, “I have a list of my values and what’s really important to me and what I expect out of different people or different roles I play in my life.” Sprout reiterated the importance of building one’s tribe, Nnamdi says. “It made me feel a lot safer in the program when Naya Joseph [ColorStack’s Co-founder and Director of Programs] said to build your board of directors and find your mentor, your best friend, the person who calls you out, and stuff like that. And make sure they are the most high-quality people that you want, that you relate to, or remind you of what you need.” He believes building one’s tribe sets them up for succession achieving their dreams. For Nnamdi personally, “I just want people around me to hold me accountable to the lofty goals I will achieve.”