Jane Michael turned 30 recently and visited her alma mater; Girls Academy on Lagos Island to celebrate the day and give back by adopting an SS2 student with severe financial hardship.
During her visit, she was welcomed by the principal, teachers and students from the school and presented with a cake to celebrate her birthday. The highlight of the event was when she shared a touching speech ‘Becoming Greater Women for the next generation’; a short story of her time in the school and how it shaped her to become who she was. The stylist also adopted an indigent student from her alma mater, an SS2 student experiencing severe financial hardship. She will be paying the student’s tuition and higher education examination fees for the student through till SS3.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to these amazing, selfless people that helped shape parts of my life, I would not be who I am without the discipline, hardwork and encouragement the staff provided. I am here to say thank you and to encourage the girls that they can achieve their dreams with hardwork” Jane Michael revealed.
The school officials thanked her for attending the event and supporting the students of the school.
Jane Michael shared her experiences growing up in a speech titled ‘Becoming Greater Women for the Next Generation‘ which she gave to the students. Read the entire speech below.
“About 14 years ago, I was 16 years old — some of you are older than 16, some are 16, while others are younger, but age doesn’t stop us from dreaming and working hard, and striving to be better women for the next generation, despite where we come from and where we currently are.
When I was younger, my family lived in a one-bedroom apartment and shared toilets and bathrooms with tenants. We would queue up to take a shower in the morning. I hated bathing especially because of how messy the bathroom was. So I woke up at 5.00am to shower on the pavement of the bathroom, then got ready for school.
My parents were separated. I was my dad’s favorite child, so I lived with him on Freeman Street, here in Lagos Island. My dad did his best to provide for and take care of me, but business kept getting worse. I had attended a private primary school, but my dad couldn’t afford that anymore. His dream was for me to attend Queen’s College, Yaba, but his funds couldn’t meet the school’s requirements. So for Secondary school, I had to go to a government school.
In order to lift my spirit a bit, my dad allowed me to choose the school I wanted to attend from a list of options, and I picked Girl’s Academy because of its name and the colour of its uniform. I was however ashamed… ashamed to be in a government school. I didn’t want my old school mates to know that I was in a government school, but thinking about it now, I realise that I was worrying about the wrong things, because it’s not where you school that defines what the future holds or what you make of life.
I stayed with my dad on weekdays and with my mum, who lived in Apapa on weekends. My mum was a stewardess, which was a nice way of saying housekeeper, or house woman, or house girl for much younger workers.
One of the weekends I visited my mum, I shouted at someone, saying “Aboloshi-leleyi?” It was something I had learnt in my new environment, and obviously, my mum wasn’t proud of it. She called for a family meeting and requested I move to Apapa instead. She gave her reasons and was able to convince the family.
I moved to Apapa and the first few months were miserable. It was a different and quiet environment; I had no friends, so I was forced to reflect on myself. I still continued schooling in Lagos Island, so I had to wake up earlier and leave home by 6.30am every morning to catch up with the first ferry leaving Apapa jetty.
Those days when I travelled from Apapa to Lagos Island, I was exposed to all sorts: the good, the bad and the ugly. I was very timid and gullible but the hard days helped me. I got toughened… Toughened in a positive way, through rain, sunshine, stones, riots, I paved my way to make sure I don’t remain where I was. I hated the poor life. I hated the fact that I used one uniform all through my junior secondary school, that is, for three whole years. I hated the fact that I would carry a heavy bag stacked with books everyday. I can’t count the number of times I had backache from the weight of the bag, and neither can I count the tears that rolled down my cheeks each time I saw kids playing or sitting comfortably in their school bus. I also can’t be quick to forget how I passed out one time because I had an asthma attack after chasing a molue for seizing my school bag because I didn’t have enough money to pay my fare.
But all this is in the past now. Inasmuch as I saw my growing up as a tough thing, it really helped me to appreciate the simple things in life; to work hard, to strive, and to make the best with whatever that comes my way. It helped me to be the person that I am today, and I want to use this to inspire you all to use every single learning experience to be better people.
Before I leave, I want to share a few tips that have helped me all through the years:
Preparing for the worst
Saving for rainy days
Paying dues; being good, loyal, honest, selfless and most of all standing by your words
Being unique, and not being a copy because we were all born original
Paving your way to greatness. (This will make you loose friends. If you don’t lose friends, you are not growing.
Challenging yourself, which is essential
Having older friends who will guide you
Surrounding yourself with people who challenge you
Being zealous to learn
Listening more than speaking
PRAYING, in capital letters.”