NAU Communications sat down with Chilel Jawara, an academic advisor in Gateway Advising, to get to know her on a more personal level. Read our questions and her answers below.
Q: Tell me about a significant childhood memory and how it has impacted your life today.
A: For context, my grandpa was very influential to my life for the short time I was blessed to have him. When I was 8 years old, I remember sitting on his porch watching my parents help him get in the car to go to dialysis treatments. One moment he was there and the next he had a heart attack and passed in my mom’s arms. His last words have stayed with me all these years. It wasn’t even until my senior year of college that I realized how much of my childhood I have literally blocked out because of this one memory. Over the years I have continued to honor the man my Grandpa was and live by the faith in God he instilled in me. Not only did he teach me so much about life that I still carry with me today but experiencing his death the way I did gave me life lessons I will never forget. His death gave me a deeper appreciation for the little things in life and an understanding that we are only human, and we must give each other grace for that.
Q: What have you been most proud of this week?
A: One of the students from the youth group I help lead reached out to me and just spoke words of encouragement over me that I really needed. It was super awesome to see how much this student has grown.
A: Lately, I have been spending my days off with my Flagstaff ‘adoptive’ family from my local church. They have 3-year-old twins who always keep me on my toes and give the best snuggles. I love spending my free time with them and watching them grow up into little ladies. Now that they have discovered their own love for hammocking, my days off will consist of all of us napping from a tree.
Q: What are three things on your bucket list and why?
A: My first bucket list item would have to be to travel. I’m a small-town, born and raised Arizona girl who’s only been to California twice—I have a whole world to see. Next on my list is to be a homeowner. My parents have worked very hard my whole life to provide for me and my sister; ideally, I would love to one day help them finish off their mortgage. No. 3 would be to start my own first-generation scholarship. First-generation programs have really shaped who I became in my college years, and I have always dreamed of giving back to kids from rural communities like my own hometown.
Q: What is your philosophy in life?
A: A very wise man once gave me a lesson on the “checks and balances” of life, what I took from it is this:
Life isn’t ever just one thing, do all the things, give yourself grace, give others grace too, and life can be so much more than just sleep, work, repeat.
Q: How do you define success?
A: This is a really hard question for me to answer. I think being a minority, first-generation student, so much of my life has involved chasing this idea of success and being accomplished by having more than my parents had. But life is too short to spend it chasing after what we don’t have and for myself, as a Christian, success is being content even when times are tough. Loving people and being in genuine community and being the kind of person that always chooses to fight the good fight. To me that is how I know I have been successful.