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Wonder women: Nnaka Forde


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Wonder women: Nnaka Forde

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WHEN LIFE THROWS you lemons you make lemonade, and add as much sugar as you want. Nnaka Forde has made her own lemonade stand in terms of bridging the gap in a male-dominated field and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

In 2002 she gained her bachelor’s in surveying and land information at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus, and after gaining her licence, diploma in education and CVQs, she is currently completing a master’s in building and construction management at Cave Hill campus.

Although land surveying was not an interest of Nnaka Forde at first, it is now one of her proudest accomplishments. After completing her ‘A’ levels at Queen’s College she tried her best to get into chemical engineering but there was only space available for land surveying. 

“At first I had no idea what land surveying was,” said the 37-year-old.

“When I was growing up I was every bit girly but I also had tomboy days. I was the only girl in my neighbourhood so I had a lot of bumps and bruises from running around with the guys, yet I still enjoyed playing with dolls and reading books.”

Nnaka told EASY her parents were always proud of whatever she did and even when they realised their daughter did not want to pursue the usual stereotypical female career, they did not discourage her.

After working full-time as a land surveyor for several businesses, Nnaka decided it was time for her to share her wealth of knowledge with younger people. In 2003 she worked as a graduate research assistant and had a part-time stint at the Barbados Community College (BCC) teaching surveying. Then she moved on to the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, where she taught surveying as well. Eventually, Nnaka found her way back to a full-time tutor at the BCC.

“When I started working here it was very seamless,” she said.

“I think the gender thing was great because the guys were happy to have females in the department. For me it is a family; we are close.

“I knew at some point I would come into the teaching fraternity although I was fighting it for a while because I liked working in the industry. My mother is actually a principal, so teaching was like second nature; I figured it would be something I would enjoy doing and I do.

“In my profession I find that they are not much people who teach . . . most people prefer the practice. But I was able to bring some of my practical experience in the classroom and I find that my background working at different entities has made teaching easier.

Nnaka said she also learnt from her students.

“When it comes to interacting with the students, you must have a keen sense of humour to be able to reach them and sometimes they actually teach you. Some people come from varying backgrounds and sometimes teach you little shortcuts or alternative ways of doing things.”

The mother of one said that teachers nurtured the minds of their students and help them find their way.

“We are helping them prepare for another stage in life and as a mother it is important to include the softer side of life. Students come and talk to you about a variety of personal things and you end up helping them make personal decisions as well.

“I have found that the male students are also very respectful. By our conduct they see we are about business, but we can still have a little joke on the side. My colleagues and I try to make learning as fun as possible and meaningful.”

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