Brave Women: Too brave to be 30 | Sola Obagbemi profiles Tricia Ikponmwonba-Yusuf

Tricia Ikponmwonba-Yusuf is a brand strategist, a brand coach for SMEs, and founder of StayInSchool, an organization which aims to provide access to education for vulnerable children in underdeveloped communities in Nigeria. On the occasion of her 30th birthday, her friend Sola Obagbemi profiles her inspiring and heartwarming journey.

Tricia, I am writing this because I have actually never told you how amazing you are. I should have told you on your birthdays but only by force did you share the date with me, so there’s never even enough time to tell you how much I appreciate you and appreciate what we share.

I can’t forget how we met – me in my 200L, trying to figure out my career path and deciding to write the NIPR (Nigerian Institute of Public Relations) exams with my friend Tobi Fasuyi. I really didn’t like talking in class Tobi could jabber on and ask questions for Africa. But suddenly there was someone who appeared to be contending with Tobi in that regard and I was instantly suspicious. Who was this girl, always dressed to kill, carrying bags so big it looked like she was  running out of town. In time I would find that girl out to be Tricia, who, beyond her intelligence and eloquence, was more than ready to help those older people who needed extra lessons after the general class.

One way or the other, we soon became friends and I got to know the real TrishDdish!

It’s hard not to think we were always meant to be friends, given how much we share in common. From sharing the same March 27 birthday to writing our NIPR exams together.While we were writing our NIPR exams, she kept talking about how great her PPA was so I hoped and prayed to get the same treat wherever I was posted to serve. 3 years down, I was coincidentally posted to the same Corona school where she served.

We also both worked for the PR Guru, Mr Ken Egbas of TruContactCommunication (with me as an intern there when ASUU decided to go on a 4-month strike during my 3rd year) which is where I began to respect Tricia’s resilience. To say she was hardworking would be an understatement. Beyond multi tasking and handling multiple roles, she was literally running that business as if her life depended on it. I had never seen anyone that dependable in my life. One thing I was sure of though was that I would need someone like Tricia whenever I eventually decided to run my own company.

While we share a love of marketing and communication, our approaches have been different. I chose to focus on PR, but Tricia, ever the restless achiever,  kept moving from one field to another in the world of marketing and brand building. She started in CSR, moved to digital and mobile marketing, crossed to public relations, graduated into experiential marketing and finally landed in core marketing. This smart ass lady, somehow, wile maintaining a 9-5, ended up amassing 5+ degrees within 4 years.

Did I mention that she is one of the most unique people I know? Take the time she mentioned she’d be having a beach wedding. I, of course I thought she was joking – “Tricia who go plan am? Will your husband like it? Him go gree? You mum nko? Will people not say you are crazy?” She had a lot of people to convince but trust this very focused girl, come Nov 9th 2015, we had her church and wedding reception at the beach! In fact, the wedding invite was delivered to all in a bottle, this was the talk of town that weekend. As she danced into the reception with Yusuf (her husband), I stood where I was, smiling and staring at her because it was indeed a dream come through.

But more than all of that, Tricia has a heart of gold. Why would the kids at the slums not be in school? Why would anyone deny their child a better future because they want them to go and seller pepper for them? These are the questions Tricia asks, and thus birthed her initiative StayinSchool, a proactive response to the evident issues in the Education sector and a long-term development plan with major focus on providing educational support (scholarships, educational supplies, meals, transportation e.t.c.) for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in underdeveloped communities in Nigeria. She also started Omosekids, a clothing line focused on making beautifully handmade clothing items for children world wide – a business idea that looked weird when she first told me. But here’s the thing; when Trish is excited about something, she will not get tired of talking your ear off regarding all her ideas about how to make it work. I was so certain that this would be a great one, and before we even finalised plans, she was already out looking for tailors and getting ready to register for a fashion school.

I was so excited to leave school because Tricia was my testimony, with her, it was good news each time I came home, moving from figures to bigger figures, so I was sure that things would work out for me the same way.

Thank you darling for being a good friend to me, thank you for inspiring me and always pushing me to be better at everything I do. I cannot thank you enough for your support over the years, I sure can’t wait to tell the world your story.

As you clock 30 today, the good lord will grant you over flowing happiness and a sense of satisfaction in all that you have accomplished. May God keep you in touch with all that you are and all that you are meant to become in Jesus name.

Happy birthday Tricia Ikponmwonba Yusuf, welcome to another phase of your life, I pray that the lord will journey with you on this next phase.

Brave Women is YNaija.com’s citizenship series for the month of March. Find more stories in the series here.

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