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  • Writer's pictureDanielle G.

Episode 3 │Meant to Be (ZIMBABWE/USA/FRANCE)

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

photos courtesy of Nyasha Makoni

"I loved being able to learn with people that I would've never been able to learn with. I like listening to people's stories and what it took to get there, and what their normal was like compared to my normal." (Nyasha, Episode 3)

This episode is dedicated to Professor Anna Norris, who was a French professor at Michigan State University and passed away in March 2017. Nyasha Makoni and I met in one of her French literature classes, at the beginning of the fall semester directly after Nyasha had spent a summer studying under Professor Norris in Tours, France.

Originally planning to attend medical school to become a doctor, Nyasha felt that she wanted a different path from that which Zimbabwean young women tend to follow after high school, so she decided to go to the United States for her undergraduate studies. She had never been to the US before this. Nyasha had applied to a number of universities and was accepted to Michigan State, which was her first choice due to its size, the international student community, the early support she received from the office of admissions, and the ability she would have to pursue her dual interests in biology and visual art/fashion. She also developed a passion for the French language while at MSU, and graduated with Bachelor's degrees in both biology and French. From there she went on to pursue a Master's degree in public health at Columbia University in NYC, which she just completed in May 2018.

"Sometimes it's fate, sometimes it's hard work. I think it was a little bit of both."

photos courtesy of Nyasha Makoni

Though she worked extremely hard to overcome the challenges of academia and making a life in a different country (and surviving New York City, let's be real), Nyasha also credits her journey to taking risks, seeking and accepting support from the people around her, and fate. At pivotal turning points along the way, certain things happened that she could not explain, other than attributing it to fate or divine intervention.

From here the future is uncertain, but for this summer she is focused on finding a job, and hopefully starting a podcast with a former high school classmate that will discuss often-taboo issues concerning Zimbabwean women and girls. She would like to continue balancing the public health and artsy sides of herself, and would also like for her trajectory to keep her going back-and-forth between Zimbabwe and the United States. Nyasha can be found on Instagram (@thencm), on Facebook (NC Makoni), or can be reached at

Be sure to listen to this episode, "Meant to Be (ZIMBABWE/USA/FRANCE)" for more! And don't forget to check out the resource list below!


Danielle G. is the creator, host, and producer of Young, Gifted and Abroad. You can find her other writings at The music in this episode is by ProleteR.



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