As our friends at Dignitas are celebrating TEN years in Nairobi it is only fitting to introduce you to their amazing founder, Tiffany Cheng Nyaggah. We were met Tiffany shortly after starting Tailored for Education. Quickly she (and Dignitas) became more than a partner, but a friend and role model. Tiffany has been an unbelievable resource as we have navigated running a nonprofit over the past seven years. She is one of the most passionate people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting! Tiffany, congratulations on TEN years of Dignitas, you have created a better life for so many of the children in Nairobi and we are so grateful to have found you!
1. Tell us about yourself!
I am the second of five children born to two immigrants who came to the United States in search of a better life. I was born and raised in Oakland, California. I love traveling and experiencing different cultures because it allows me to live into a world that is more connected and beautiful than I would otherwise realize. I am wife and partner to my husband and a mom to a cheeky, whimsical, and handsome 3-year-old boy.
2. How has education impacted your life? Is there a specific memory and/or person that influenced you?
Early in my life, I realized that the education system often reproduced inequalities and knew that school didn’t work for every student because it was designed for a very different time. From kindergarten through high school, I had a few outstanding teachers whose names I still remember: Mrs. Willis, Mr. Lang, Mrs. Stewart, Mr. Richter. But overall, my education did not feel empowering. That is, until I went to college and later, graduate school. In college, I remember finally feeling like my voice mattered, that my teachers were interested in what I truly thought, and that having questions was actually a wonderful thing. As I began working in my 20s – which as a young adult, is really the time where you learn to apply lessons from school and receive a deeper education about the world – the challenges I faced as a young woman of color taught me how to be powerful, courageous, and confident – because no one was going to step in and do that for me.
3. What is your hope for girls around the world?
My dream is that girls around the world discover their unique potential and live into their brilliant, awesome, and beautiful design. I am deeply hopeful that every girl discovers what they are most passionate about and finds mentors that would encourage their ideas and dreams because we need all of them to change the world!
4. What inspires you about Tailored for Education?
I love Tailored for Education because it illustrates the simple idea that we all have something to give. Jess and Megan model for us what it means to take something that was deeply symbolic for them as young women and invest in communities around the world so that more girls and boys would have the opportunity to go to school and be seen as children in earnest pursuit of an education. A uniform can change the way a student sees herself and in the process, change the expectations a teacher may have of their class, and further still, the way a community frames their own potential. It’s such a visible change of our collective aspirations for the next generation!
5. What advice that you would give your 12 year old self?
Keep searching for what is right, good, and true. Things may feel difficult – and they are! – but you are seen and loved. One day you will find and build a community of people who are genuinely invested in your journey and you will learn to be unafraid of what others say. Your dreams are needed in this world!