“Adjust your shoulders. Stand tall. Unbow your head. Speak life into your life. Do not listen to the noise. You are an answered prayer”- Ijeoma Umebinyuo
If confidence was a person, Merceline Oliech, 3rd year ALU Business Management student, would be the poster girl. We catch up with her to talk about her journey with self-confidence, and how it impacted the ALU community through her role as a former peer counselor, her passion for the creative space, and her vision for the cosmetics industry in Africa.
Quite frankly, Oliech needs no introduction. Her assertiveness and self-assurance ooze out as she begins to describe herself – leaving nothing to assumption and utterly convicted in who she is.
“My name is Merceline Oliech. My family name, Oliech, means ‘Wise and Great Elephant.’ I am an expressive, well-collected, very creative individual with an out of the box perspective of the world. My confidence tends to make people feel uncomfortable because I’m literally always looking at the bigger picture, in everything. I tend to ask the hard questions that no one ever seems to want to ask, either because of fear, shyness, or just insecurities. Don’t get me wrong, I understand insecurities, they are normal and everyone has them. But, it’s not okay to allow other people’s insecurities to define you, direct how you should act around them, or in any way make you shrink your personality for them.
I am Kenyan, all the way from a town called Kisumu Town, which rests on the northeastern shore of the biggest freshwater lake in Africa, Lake Victoria.”
Confidence, Arts, Wellness, and Cosmetics: An Oliech type of niche
In the intersection of arts, wellness, cosmetics, and self-confidence, Merceline found her niche. She describes how she turned her passion for uplifting and seeing people operating from a place of wellness into a skill through her role as a peer counselor at ALU.
“During my time as a peer counselor, I co-ran a series of sessions for the students on campus. I remember how thrilling it was- from Spiritual, Financial, Creative, Environmental, and Emotional Wellness all the way to Medical Wellness. I remember at the time, most of the students were feeling stressed out due to submissions, and it was fulfilling just seeing students taking a break, and just absorbing the beauty of living. When students see people like them reaching out and doing something mindful for them, it does change their perspective. t helps them feel like, whatever it is they may be going through, they can conquer it.”
In her journey of self-confidence and exploring creative ways to complement it, she landed in the cosmetics industry. She not only defines her passion for cosmetics as a catalyst for self-confidence but also as a gap she identified within the creative space on the African continent that she is declaring to close in the next 18 years.
“My mission in life is to create a make-up brand that will dominate the entire African continent in the next 18 years. I want to explore the industry in Africa. I genuinely think it’s time we create global African brands, that not only will open up industries to young, creative, and successful entrepreneurs in my continent, but also expand these industries.”
Studying at ALU
As a Business Management student and with a clear mission to run her own enterprise, Merceline gives us insight on what crucial gems she has picked up from her course of study at ALU, and how that is detrimental to the success of her own future business pursuits.
“Doing Business Management has been a crucial eye-opener for me, especially on the aspect of diversity within the industry I would like to pursue in my African continent. We have not fully unearthed, explored, and developed it and I believe there’s so much potential, talents, and untapped wealth in our young creatives.”
A dose of wisdom from the “Great Elephant”
Before we let her go, Merceline offers advice for young people who seek to fiercely pursue their missions:
- “Teamwork is not your enemy. Yes, you are brilliant, but correction and other people’s ideas can go a very long way into shaping you as a person, as a professional, and building your vision up into a cathedral.”
- “It’s okay if you lose your way at some point. So keep tabs on your ideas. It could be a scrapbook or a wall where you put inspiring images or write down idea pop-ups that relate to your vision and reference whenever you feel like you’ve lost yourself.”
- “Be unapologetic about your Ideas. Confidence goes a long way!”