10Mins. With Amam Onyerinma
Dr. Amam Onyerinma, a.k.a. Dr. Ama, is a top-flight educationist, life coach and philanthropist. She is also the author of “Successes Don’t Fail”, a book that teaches empowerment and ways to discover what is essential for one’s success and happiness in life.
After about four decades in the United States, Dr. Ama is back in the country to support causes for women and children; specifically children with special needs, in a bid to empower them. She tells us about her job as a life coach, her passion for women and her fashion sense.
You moved from being an educationist to being a life coach. What informed your decision?
There was a time, in my life, when I was working as an educationist. I still am. I was doing well financially but I felt that there was something missing. There was an imbalance in my life and someone recommended that I use a life coach to figure out what it was that was out of alignment in my life. So, I hired a life coach and worked with her. She was the one who actually recognized that I had a gift.
I always knew I had a gift but didn’t know what it was and couldn’t put it into perspective as coaching. She helped me bring it out and the rest is history. I went off to the same school she attended, did my training and wrote the book.
What does being a life coach entail?
The biggest challenge for us, as coaches, is getting people to understand what we do. It’s beyond talking to people and giving them solutions; as a matter of fact, we are not allowed to give solutions. We are supposed to help you uncover, within you, the solution because if I give you the solution, you could or not do it and that doesn’t justify our work. So coaching, as a whole, is focused on where you are today and where you want to go to. It’s about achieving your dreams; it’s about being happy, being fulfilled about doing the work you want.
Where would you say your niche is as a life coach?
There are different types of coaches. Mine is more transitional; personal and business coaching. That is where my niche is. I like to work with the youth, women and business people. There is room for all types of coaches.
My path is not to go on the pulpit to preach to people; by my work and my actions, you should know what I stand for and what my goals are as a person. I am passionate about women having a place at the table; a place where their male counterparts make things happen. So, domestic violence is a ‘no-no’ for me.
What ignited your passion for helping women and children? How did it all start?
I’m an educationist and my Ph. D. is in Education. I bagged a Ph. D. over 20 years ago. I have always been passionate about women. As a child, I spent a few years in Nigeria and I could see the disparity among men and women. I was very fortunate to have a father that believes that everyone has the potential to be whoever they want to be. So, we were encouraged to be ourselves and to receive the best of education you can imagine. I grew up at a time girls were not educated to the level that I was. But my father thought it was an investment and it has paid off. That is the little story about myself.
I have been incredibly passionate about women, particularly those who have suffered abuse. I don’t stand for any form of abuse or disregard of women. We are equals; I know that some men don’t believe that but I know that we are created equally in this world and each of us has a role. I am passionate about women having a place at the table where their male counterparts make things happen. Domestic violence is a ‘no-no’ for me.
How do you intend to spread the word to women and children?
I wrote a book that was released this year. It is available for everyone and anyone to read. Secondly, I like to speak at functions that empower women, men and children. I do more than motivational; I am very realistic to what is going on. The truth is, we need to find solutions, achievable solutions and reasonable solutions. It’s more than just the rat race. It’s taking action.
I am a philanthropist to support causes and my causes now are women and children; specifically, children with special needs. They are very dear to my heart.
Looks like the gele head tie is your signature look.
Yes, it is my signature look. It is my homage to my heritage.
How often do you wear them?
Anytime I have a public hearing or gathering. I wear them on anything – skirt suit, trousers and on dresses.
What is your beauty regimen like?
I drink a lot of water. I drink probably 10 to 12 bottles of water a day. I try to sleep as much as possible. I cannot tell you that I sleep eight hours a day; that could be a lie but I do rest as much as I can. I consume aloe vera juice. I use native black soap. I use ‘ori’ (shear butter) like everyone; although I mix my ‘ori’ with lavender and peppermint. Lavender helps me to sleep well and the peppermint is for the aches and pains in my joints.
I try to stay positive, really and truly. I try to live mindfully. I am very aware of my thoughts and actions so I wish everyone the very best. I try not to get upset. I really just like to live a healthy life and, again, I can survive on hot water and lemon.
Could you please tell us about your growing up?
I was born in England, lived there for a while and returned to Nigeria. I was in Nigeria for a few years, attended Holy Child Secondary School until we went back to school in England. From there, I moved to America to pursue my university studies. My first degree was in Anthropology from the University of Rochester, New York. My second degree was also in Anthropology but my doctorate is in Education from the University of Southern California. And, many more.
Who actually needs a life coach?
People go to life coaches for so many reasons. Sometimes, they are going through a divorce or they lost a child. At other times, it’s business people; you are a bank manager, for example, and want to put together a team and you are trying to understand those individuals what your expectations are and to bring together the right people. At other times, it’s people who are just in transition; maybe, a teacher that wants to go into journalism, to know he or she is doing the right thing, (whether he or she) will he be able to pay bills and so on. You need someone to work it out with you so that you will be able to make that shift. We all need one.
When you are not coaching, what do you do?
I write (or) listen to music. I like going to museums and, sometimes, I like to be on my own. I am not afraid to be by myself because my greatest inspiration comes when I am alone.
By Yemisi Suleiman