Meet Our Latest OppU Achiever: Jarai Njie
Name: Jarai Njie
College: University of Florida, Gainesville
Major: Public Health with Pre-Medicine
Graduation Date: 2019
Our latest OppU Achiever, Jarai Njie, plans to use her UF medical education to better healthcare outcomes for women in The Gambia.
We’re thrilled to announce the next recipient of the $2,500 OppU Achievers Scholarship, Jarai Njie, an advocate for women’s health and education! She embodies the power of opportunity to fuel achievement.
While growing up in West Africa, Jarai experienced first-hand the barriers to education and the health disparities facing Gambian women. In her community, the pursuit of higher education isn’t a normalized expectation. This means it’s often more fiscally convenient for young women to remain home, get married early, and have children. Jarai was fortunate to have a mother who was unwavering in her determination to send Jarai to the U.S., where Jarai holds citizenship. There, she explored the new wealth of opportunity afforded her to dream higher.
Now entering her senior year at the University of Florida, Jarai is studying public health and pre-medicine with an interest in emergency medicine. In addition to her studies, she is treasurer of the African Student Union, organizing their involvement with the Ronald McDonald House. She also works at Shands’ open clinic providing health counseling to the homeless, interns at the mental health center, and responds to on-campus requests via Gator EMR. After graduation, she’ll work as an EMT for a year before applying to medical schools, with sights set on residency and fellowship programs after that. Ultimately, she plans to become a certified gynecologist, open a clinic, and leverage resources from the U.S. to bring better outcomes to Gambian women.
Jarai is changing attitudes about women’s education. It’s not okay and not the norm to deprive women of opportunity. Rather, it is crucial to actively help them realize their potential. If there’s anything for girls and young women to take away from Jarai’s story, it’s that the sky is truly the limit.
You can read more about Jarai in her inspiring essay below.
Being born in America to West African parents meant that I had to grow up in West Africa as my parents didn’t have legal residential status. Growing up as a young West African girl in The Gambia, I experienced numerous stereotypes emphasizing what a female cannot educationally achieve.
This has always motivated me to pursue an education which will enable me to break such stereotypes. I’ve always been influenced and inspired by humanitarians all over the world, however, nothing inspired me more than being brought up in a country with a healthcare system that was as deteriorated as that of The Gambia’s. I was raised in an environment where the simple flu or stomachache took one’s life within a matter of days. I saw my sister experience two stillbirths simply because prenatal care is almost nonexistent in The Gambia. All these things motivated me.
The thought of young Gambian girls facing female genital mutilation (FGM) and confirming to early marriage plays a significant role in my life as I am only lucky to have escaped these circumstances. I have worked with the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH) to raise awareness about FGM. RVTH frequently sent young educated girls like me to form a friendly relationship with underprivileged girls who were susceptible to FGM. My role during such missionary trips was to enlighten families about the medical risks and emotional trauma that FGM poses on girls.
At the age of 16, my parents raised enough money to be able to send me back to my country of birth, America. Upon arrival, I beat the odds of being another girl without a post-secondary education. While completing my high school education, I took seven AP classes every semester, competed in student congress debate (as I was fascinated by American politics), and I joined the student government in order to implement a non-profit cause; The Water Project. As the founder of The Water Project, I raised over $500 in order to enable access to clean water to a needy village in The Gambia.
As I speak today, I am a very proud African-American Gator studying public health with pre –med at the University of Florida where I continue to heavily indulge in community service work. As the treasurer of the African Student Union, my main purpose is to skew funds towards the needy in Alachua County. Every other weekend, we partner with the Ronald McDonald members to feed the homeless and needy.
As a college junior taking 18 credits and juggling two jobs my main goal is to pursue my best academic capabilities as I get ready for the real world. My mission in life will always be to join the helping hands of today as I contribute to a better tomorrow as I work relentlessly towards becoming a gynecologist to help underprivileged women all over the world.
I wish I could entirely express my life goals and experiences in only 500 words, however, one thing I can say is that I wouldn’t change my journey for any other as I am more than grateful for every learning experience that I have overcome in my life.
Could you or someone you know use $2,500 for tuition? The OppU Achievers Scholarship is open to high school seniors, college students, graduate students, and students in trade or professional programs. To apply, submit a short essay through our web portal.