Meet Mahawa Suma (26), raised in West Africa moved to the Netherlands and without any prior knowledge of Dutch manage to score a BSc in Dutch and a Masters degree.
I met Mahwa while pursuing my MSc degree. She was one of the 6 black people in a class of over 100. We got introduced and instantly connected. Her bright smile and encouraging spirit is very contagious. After spending more and more time together I realize Mahawa had such a strong spirit of determination and drive and knew she had to be my first Goal Digger feature.
So.. who is Mahawa?
Well Mahawa is just a girl from West Africa. I was born here in the Netherlands, but grew up in West Africa. I just try to live my best life.
Why did you choose to study in the Netherlands. You could have chosen to stay in Africa, or even attend another french speaking country. Why The Netherlands.
Well for one I would say it is a family tradition. My dad moved to the Netherlands from Sierra Leone in the 70s he didn’t speak a word of Dutch. He had a choice of America and London but chose the Netherlands. He worked so hard to learn the language and went on to do his Bachelor, Masters, and Phd in Economics. Later my mother and father had my brother, sister and myself here in the Netherlands and then we moved back to Africa.
Both my brother and sister moved here as well for University so it seemed to be a natural choice.
Wow. I find it so fascinating that your first language is French, then English. Yet you moved here and did your bachelors of Economics in Dutch. How was that?
It was a total struggle. When I moved here I spoke no Dutch I decided to take a dutch course for a year and then later started my course work in Economics. In the Dutch system you must pass your first year classes within two years. Unfortunately by my second year I didn’t pass 3 classes out of 18. That means I had to start over again. I appealed to the Commission board but was denied. I was so crushed and thought of giving up. I was so hurt, but I pulled myself together and decided to start over and do it again.
Whoa. So what kept you motivated to keep going after giving something your all and hearing a NO. Some people would have just given up.
Well from High School I knew I wanted to become a career woman, and having my bachelors was a key element in what I wanted to accomplish. After that failure I thought of changing majors, but my dad spoke to me and really gave me the motivation I needed. Again, he’s from Africa moved here got his bachelor’s, Master’s, and Phd of Economics in Dutch. He explain to me that he had many failures, and rejections as well, but he stuck to it and never gave up. His determination is what made him the successful man he is today. I was so proud the day I graduated. I couldn’t believe I did it. I watched so many people give up and cried so many nights but in my family failure is not an option.
There is no other option. Failure is not an option!
You then went on to do your Masters in Marketing. Why Marketing
*Laughs* I chose marketing because it seemed fun and easy. During my economics program I had a Marketing class that I really enjoyed. The professor was so engaging and I also had a crush on him. Marketing was different than the math, and numbers I grew accustom to. It was the fun part of business, plus it really interest me how you can persuade a consumer and get them to buy what you want them to.
So what’s next for Mahawa
Well right now I am working at Accucoms. I am currently on the sales team and have ambitions to grow within in the marketing team and within the company.
Last but not least. What is one quote that you live by.
Hmm. I live by so many, but one of my favorite is Never a failure always a lesson. You always learn something. Even if something doesnt work out you can always learn something from it.