by: Emma Fleming
Evodie Tshipamba is a recipient of Parkland’s Outstanding Black Student Award. Tshipamba, an electrical engineering major, was recognized by faculty and staff as an outstanding black student for her academic excellence and involvement in the community. She is one of seven students selected for this award. Tshipamba hails from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, where she says sense of community is a bit different than it is in the U.S.
“The Congolese community is a positive, tight-knit community that supports each other in difficult situations,” Tshipamba said. “We are open to share with and help others who need something. In the U.S., if someone needs help, no one intervenes. But in the DRC, we would not let that happen.”
She had never heard of Black History Month until she came to Parkland. “I heard about it [Black History Month] when I came to the U.S.,” she said. “It means a lot that people can support black communities and encourage them to do more. We live in a racist society and to see that there are people out there supporting the black community is really nice.”
The electrical engineering major was shocked when she learned she was an award-winner. “I was surprised, because I never thought that I would one day be nominated for something or that a teacher would find me worthy. Amber [the nominator] sees stuff in me that I didn’t see,” Tshipamba said.
Tshipamba faced some challenges when she first arrived at Parkland. “I was shy to talk when I first came here,” she said. “I thought people would laugh at me because I could not speak English very well.”
However, with the support from her family and by taking ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, she began to step out of her comfort zone. “Taking classes in the pre-college ESL program encouraged me to speak more. Classes like reading, listening, and grammar helped me, and teachers were understanding and patient. ESL helped me in other classes, like when I was taking Math 198. I was not able to ask questions because I was worried to say things in the wrong way or that people would judge me. But then, I gained confidence from taking ESL classes,” she said.
Another aspect of Parkland that has impacted the award-winner is the ISA, or International Student Association. The ISA has hosted two fashion shows in the last two years; one of the shows holds a special place in Tshipamba’s heart.
“The first ISA Fashion Show in Spring 2019 was great because everyone worked together and was enthusiastic. I tried to share what I learned in the DRC about modeling; I was nervous to model in front of the whole school, but after that, I saw how people supported me and my culture,” she said. “It was great to share the Congolese culture through the pagne, or clothes, in the fashion show with Parkland students.”
“I’m a Congolese woman who came from a big family; the love and support of my family made me strong enough to face any obstacles”
Although she is currently enrolled at Parkland in a math and science based major, she has other career goals. Ever since she was a little girl, Tshipamba has had the dream of becoming a model and hopes someday that dream will become a reality. When she’s not practicing modeling or studying, she likes to watch movies to practice English or hang out with her family and friends.
One person who inspires her is Ms. Black America, Genesis Hall, who Tshipamba was able to meet. “At the Black Queens Rock event, we saw Ms. Black America give a talk, and she encouraged us to be ourselves and convinced me to have more confidence in myself,” she said. “She encouraged me to accomplish my dreams and to not let fear stop me from what I want to do.”
Tshipamba is also greatly inspired and supported by her family. “My mother is my role model because she gave up finishing her degree and did everything to be able to send me to school. All her efforts have pushed me to not let her down and to make her proud of me,” she said.
On a final note, she wanted to inform the Prospectus that she is proud of her culture and family and her role within them. “I’m a Congolese woman who came from a big family; the love and support of my family made me strong enough to face any obstacles,” Tshipamba said.
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