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Lift as you climb: Lessons from an alumna

How one alumna discovered her passion for leadership and how she wants to pay it forward. 

As Ada Okoye reflects on her transformative journey since graduating from Carondelet in 2013, the essence of her character is encapsulated by the powerful mantra, “Lift as you climb.” A devoted alumna, Ada recently celebrated her 10-year reunion, marveling at the remarkable evolution of her alma mater. “It is really exciting to see that the students there now have so many more resources and things at their disposal,” she said. “When you leave somewhere, you hope it gets better with time.”

Carondelet, with its guiding thesis of “All of which woman is capable,” left an indelible mark on Ada’s trajectory. It was during her formative years as a Cougar that she discovered her passion for leadership. “I think about all the people in my life that saw something in me and pushed me in the right direction, and it would be a waste of space if I didn’t do that for someone else,” said Ada. “Believe in her, invest in her, nurture her. It’s all about action. What am I going to do to help?”

Believing in the power of education and mentorship, Ada envisions running a nonprofit for young women, providing them with an experience akin to Carondelet, irrespective of their backgrounds. “Lift as you climb,” she repeated. “I want to focus on an underrepresented community, Black communities. I was so fortunate to go to Carondelet, and I want people who look like me to continue getting access to the same opportunities.”

Encouraged by mentors like Ms. Daniel, head of ASB, and Mr. Silveira, who pushed her academically and personally, Ada embraced leadership roles and eventually became the ASB president. Her commitment to underrepresented communities, especially Black women, became a central theme in her journey.

“After I left, even more Black women held positions in leadership and ASB president roles,” she said. “It wasn’t just me—it didn’t start or end; it continued, and that representation is important across the board. I’m so glad people are able to find their communities within Carondelet because these relationships continue for the rest of their life.”

“When I hear the phrase “Believe in Her, I feel like it’s beyond wanting the best for someone. I think action,” she said. “How can I apply my resources and my network to help foster something for someone? How can I set this woman on the right path.”

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