Living a life of purpose

Master’s student dreams of career with the United Nations

Pempho-Chinkondenji

By Amber Stark ’99

Pempho Chinkondenji makes the most of every minute of her day – whether it’s attending classes in the cross-cultural and international education program, working as a graduate assistant for the Technology Resource Center or serving as an International Student Services ambassador.

That would be enough to keep most students busy, but it’s not even half of Chinkondenji’s commitments. She’s also a graduate representative for the Multi-Cultural Initiatives Committee, president of the Pan-Pacific and South-East Asia Women’s Association and co-founder of Loving Arms, an organization that provides counseling and promotes access to education in her home country of Malawi, South-East Africa.

For Chinkondenji, all of these activities, plus other honors and activities, are part of living a life of purpose.

“I am content when I’m giving back,” she said. “It feels good to help someone.”

Ultimately, Chinkondenji would like to work at the United Nations, where she can be a voice for the marginalized.

“I hope these experiences can help me reach that dream,” she said.

Chinkondenji has a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, with a specialization in radio and television broadcasting, from Africa Bible College. She first learned about Bowling Green State University from a friend.

“I love it here,” she said. “It is affordable, safe and I love my program. I’m glad I’m here.”

Chinkondenji has been in the United States since August 2015 and while she misses home, she is making the most of her time here, even planning to participate in optional practical training before returning home.

“I am getting good leadership experience and hands-on experience representing and supporting other students,” she said.

In recognition of these efforts, Chinkondenji received a scholarship to attend the 2016 National Conference for College Student Women Leaders from the American Association of University Women. This organization, in part, works to prepare the next generation of women leaders. Chinkondenji hopes to start a student chapter of the AAUW at BGSU.

“Attending the conference was a life-honoring experience,” she said. “It was motivating. Empowering. I want to bring that energy to the women here on campus and in the community.”

She is also part of a group of students hoping to create a Young Government Student Leaders organization on campus for students who want to work in government. The organization in still in its infancy, but will likely provide professional development opportunities and resume assistance, among other things.

The conference scholarship was one of several awards Chinkondenji received this year. This spring, she was featured as a BGSU Shero by the Women’s Center and she received the Soroptimist International’s Virginia Wagner Award, which honors the effort and scholarship of women attending college.

A first-generation college student who has seen many girls drop out of school in her home country, Chinkondenji values education and hopes to bring change in this area.

“That is one of the reasons we founded Loving Arms,” she said. “It is important to have people around you who are educated to motivate you to stay in school or go back to school. In addition to providing counseling, we strive to promote access to education.”

In time, Chinkondenji hopes to grow Loving Arms to Sub-Saharan Africa as another way to advocate for female rights and bring change. Her plate is full, but she has no intention of slowing down.

“Faith motivates me,” she said. “And trust keeps me going.”