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What Would You Do with Your One Precious Life?

Nkiru Amene with car

Nkiru Amene

Ed. Note:  Nkiru Amene (HBS Class of 2013) was killed in a car accident this summer while traveling in Nigeria.  In her short but precious life replica watches uk, Nkiru exemplified the ideal characteristics of an HBS student—a passion for leading and motivating others to make a positive impact in society. It is the hope of this publication that her story serves as a similar inspiration for the HBS community.

Nkiru Amene was born in Nigeria on July 1st, 1984. She was the middle of five children – four girls and one boy – and was always referred to as ‘the social one’.

When she was 15 years old, Nkiru and her family immigrated to the United States and settled down in Tucson, Arizona. Although it was hard to say goodbye to her many family and friends, she was extremely excited to start a new life in America. Her first day of school though came with a few surprises, as she found herself in several awkward and frustrating moments lost in translation. She came home feeling a little dejected, questioning whether she would be able to get used to this fast-paced and strange American culture. But true to Nkiru’s can-do attitude and magnetic personality, after a short rough start, she found herself quickly assimilating, and within a few weeks she had not only made several friends but also started participating in many extra-curricular and volunteer activities.

Nkiru Amene HBS Class of 2013

Nkiru Amene HBS Class of 2013

In addition to being known for her bright and effervescent personality, Nkiru also became known for her incredible ambition and extremely generous spirit. She had a strong faith in God, and her faith played a large role in shaping her value system. Having been raised in a small underprivileged Nigerian town replica breitling, and seeing first-hand vast social and economic disparities, she knew that the opportunities afforded to her in the United States were indeed a privilege – and she sought to take full advantage of these privileges to not only better herself, but also to improve the well-being of others. She focused hard on her academics, and merely one year after coming to the United States, was awarded the President’s Award for Educational Excellence – an award given to select high school students across the country for outstanding academic achievements.

Nkiru loved the sciences, and decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering at the University of Arizona (U of A). There, she continued her academic success. She was on the Dean’s List every semester, was inducted into the National Honor Society, and was a member of several professional organizations including the Tau Beta Phi Honor Society, Theta Tau professional engineering fraternity (Scribe), National Society for Black Engineers (Financial Chair) and the African Student Association.

Despite her rigorous academic schedule and several extra-curricular activities, Nkiru continued to seek out opportunities to work with the less privileged. On one occasion, she helped raise $3000 for orphanages in Tanzania and Zambia. However, Nkiru understood the complexities of poverty in Africa. She knew that aid, although extremely important and necessary in certain circumstances, does not stimulate a country’s economy. She saw the key role that engineering could play in enhancing development across multiple industries in Africa, and committed that her long term career goal would be to apply her skill-set in this way.

Nkiru graduated from U of A magna cum laude, and joined Chrysler Automotive in Detroit, Michigan. She was accepted into Chrysler’s Management Development Program – a leadership program in which members complete rotational assignments in a diverse set of business units. As a testament to her keen desire to excel, she began to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering part-time at the University of Michigan – even though it meant driving over an hour to campus after work several days a week. After a couple of years with the company, Chrysler offered buyouts to a large portion of its workforce due to economic challenges. Nkiru took the buyout and immediately immersed herself in the job search. After only a few weeks, she was hired by Boeing in St. Louis, Missouri as a radar engineer.

Although Nkiru never saw a challenge she did not think she could overcome, she was keenly aware of the lack of minorities in the field of engineering and wanted to not only encourage diversity but also ensure that other minorities had the tools that they needed to succeed in their careers. As such, merely four months after starting her new job at Boeing, she founded the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Boeing Chapter. As president, Nkiru conducted several professional development seminars, developed mentoring programs, and organized an annual community service day – the first of which over 500 attendees volunteered in various local needy communities.

With solid engineering experience under her belt, after almost two years at Boeing, Nkiru decided to apply for her MBA in order to gain the business skill set and knowledge base she knew would be imperative to achieving her career goals. Being the go-getter she was, she wanted the best – a Harvard MBA. In fact, Harvard was the only school she applied to. She was ecstatic when she heard the news of her acceptance into the class of 2013, her only reservation being that as a die-hard LA Lakers fan, she would be living in enemy territory for two years (i.e. the land of the Boston Celtics).

Given her rigorous work schedule, Nkiru decided to take some much needed time-off prior to school – a trip to Nigeria for her best friend’s wedding, in which she was to be the maid-of-honor, followed by a month-long vacation travelling through Europe. She was so excited to spend the last couple of months before school reconnecting with family and friends, and exploring more of the world. However, in a devastating turn of events, on June 20th2011, while in traveling in Nigeria, she was killed in a car accident along with three friends – two of whom were siblings of the bride.

News of the accident and passings sent shock waves through her community of family and friends. The events were so sudden, and the magnitude of the tragedy was so great that words cannot begin to describe the degree of devastation and grief that was felt. But although her death has left a huge void in the lives of those who knew her, the legacy she leaves behind speaks loud and clear.

It is only fitting that the name Nkiru means ‘the best is still to come’. If we merely sit and ponder the ‘what could have been’, her life’s work seems incomplete and her story ends. But if instead we regard with joy the ‘what was’, and allow ourselves to be inspired by the ‘what can be’, we will be able to carry on her incredible mission in life, and bring to fruition the seeds of compassion and kindness that she planted for nearly 27 years in order to make a positive impact in our world.

Nkiru – We will always be ever so thankful to have been graced with your presence, even if only for a short while. You have inspired us and left a lasting impression on our lives. You were our side-kick, our confidant, our sister, and our friend.

We love you and miss you dearly.

 

 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

 Nneka Anwah is the sister of Nkiru Amene. Jessica Asinugo is spearheading an effort to continue Nkiru’s work by leveraging the HBS community.  If you would like to be involved in these efforts, email Jessica at jasinugo@mba2013.hbs.edu.

August 30, 2011

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “What Would You Do with Your One Precious Life?”

  1. Honor Your Ancestors says:

    To the family and friends of Nkiru Amene know that her spirit lives forever through you and that wherever you go in this world she goes with you. Spread her joy, funny jokes, and good spirit with those that you love that surround you every day.

  2. - says:

    This story really inspires me to do more with myself and the one life that I have here on this planet. It’s time to pursue my dreams and really go after it, before it’s too late and I don’t get the chance.

  3. Nicole Ainugo says:

    Beautiful story. Though its sad that she’s gone, she led an incredible and inspiring life. May her soul rest in perfect peace.

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RECENT COMMENTS
  • Honor Your Ancestors says:

    To the family and friends of Nkiru Amene know that her spirit lives forever through you and that wherever you go in this world she goes with you. Spread her joy, funny jokes, and good spirit with those that you love that surround you every day.

  • - says:

    This story really inspires me to do more with myself and the one life that I have here on this planet. It’s time to pursue my dreams and really go after it, before it’s too late and I don’t get the chance.

  • Nicole Ainugo says:

    Beautiful story. Though its sad that she’s gone, she led an incredible and inspiring life. May her soul rest in perfect peace.

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