Identified as a first generation “African-American with Nigerian parentage”, Frances is a manifestation of a hybrid cultural upbringing which has directly influenced who she is today. Being raised in a traditional Nigerian household within American society, has presented some challenges. In grade school, Frances’s mother would style her hair in a traditional Igbo-Nigerian fashion, using black thread-like strings called, “aewoo.” Students would crowd around her, pointing and taunting, simply because of a hairstyle which they were unfamiliar with, and did not understand. She soon realized that, not only did her hair give away her African heritage, but her last name did as well, Udukwu. Even more interesting was the fact that she was often told that she did not look like an African and earlier on she was bewildered as to realize what that really meant.
To some, such encounters might have spawned defensiveness, anger and even isolation. To the contrary, she not only gained a greater awareness of her unique heritage, but also an acute appreciation of being a product of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and an obligation to expose and promote the beauty in Igbo land’s traditions and culture.
To be certain, frances cultural diversity has been an enriching and positive aspect of her development, and has also been reflective in her professional life. As a results-driven professional with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Health care Systems Management from Temple University; and a career in health care consulting, She brings 3 years of experience across the healthcare sector in marketing, consulting, policy, research, insurance access, and delivery of care.
Her work as a consultant gives her the opportunity to work in a multicultural setting and impact specifically the Veteran population’s well-being. Neighboring the roles and responsibilities of my most recent position; in fall 2011, she worked for the D.C. Mayor’s Office on African Affairs. Prior to concluding her tenure there, she performed qualitative policy research on the impact of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) on the District’s African immigrant population, a demographic at high risk for welfare assistance and thus a focal point of my Office’s outreach efforts to ensure that this population is able to receive appropriate resources to live healthy in DC. These local yet valuable experiences illuminate her potential of becoming an effective leader of action and change, no matter the environment.
Frances demonstrates a commitment to service generally, and a career supporting the under served, particularly. she is convinced that the Miss Nigeria USA Pageant mission to assist young Nigerian women trailblazers, like herself, to seize the opportunity that America presents to advocate for the less fortunate will best enable her to shine the spotlight on Nigeria, tell her story, inspire others and most importantly, service humanity.