My younger cousin is about to graduate from middle school, so her mom wanted me and my siblings to write her a quick word of encouragement.

Dear Kachi,

Congratulations on graduating 8th grade! You made it this far, and you are a witty, smart cookie. As you transition into high school, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

  1. Cherish your friends: The next 4 years will be a mixture of annoying assignments, leadership positions in clubs, sports, college applications, standardized tests, and LOTS of stress. Find people that will challenge you, encourage you, and hold you down when you need it the most.
  2. Do everything!: Try all the clubs and sports that you are interested in. Back in high school, I was so focused on getting in Ivy League schools that I did not figure out what type of career that I wanted to pursue until my twenties.
  3. Always be curious and always question “Why?”: Stand your ground, especially if you feel it is right. Say your thoughts and speak your mind. Don’t let anybody push you over.
  4. Befriend your teachers: Each semester, find a teacher or two that you click with, and ask them about anything, especially if you are interested in a certain topic. They can also write awesome recommendation letters for summer programs, college applications and jobs. Plus, they are really cool.
  5. Do summer programs and camps!: My siblings and I applied to cool summer programs out of state and got free money to learn and build awareness about careers and life.
  6. Get an email address and basic mobile phone: High school is going to require more assignments, group work, and more extracurricular activities, so it would be good to have these two on you. Trust me.

I hope that you know that we got your back if you need us. I’m proud of you, lady.


Ngozi Ihenacho

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