Estelle “Stelly” Tshitenge was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Her family came to America when she was four years old and have resided in the the United States since. Since then Estelle has had to navigate her own hardships and victories to which she shares with us during the interview. She is currently an Assistant Director of Recruitment and Outreach at Springfield College Boston. Estelle is a community leader, and cultural enthusiast. She is a a mom, a creative, a Congolese woman. More importantly she is a lover of God and lover of positive things.
Her road to becoming the woman she is today has not been the smoothest, but she shares that those experiences have impacted her growth immensely. At 19 years old, Estelle had her son, and along with being a teen mother, there were also the stereotypes attached to being a young mom. She knew she wanted to have her Bachelor before but having her son made her reconsider the path to getting her education and degree. At the time, Estelle was not sure of what road to take, so she decided to take the roadmap to gaining her education of working fulltime and going to school part-time. However, she found that this would not work for her because she was always tired or making excuses herself, so she decided to take a break from college to work and raise her son. After two years and many encouragements later, Estelle decided to go back to school and continue with formal education.
In her educational experiences she went through a lot of trial and errors, but she persisted through. At her third attempt at Springfield College Boston, she made herself accountable for her education and decided that she will finish college. Today, she is a college graduate who graduated with honors Cum Laude Bachelor’s in Human Services. Estelle also has a small business making custom buttons for special occasions for people. As a cultural enthusiast, who loves food, music and art, you can find her blogging on her blog where she expresses her thoughts and also showcases music, black art, talents of Boston, music. The main goal is to connect people and the community. To show that people could connect even if not from the same town. And I always believe that food and music connects people cause it’s in every country and culture. Estelle even adds some personal poetry as well as represent Congolese cultures. “Representing the culture and its beauty and not just the side of the war which is very much real but there’s so much more to it than that”. Estelle loves to represent Congolese woman by being authentic to who she is.
In her own words she shares with us what it means to her to be an empowered Congolese woman:
Growing up aside from my family, I didn’t know a lot of Congolese women. If you weren’t my mom or aunt then outside of that I didn’t know congolese women. And then I didn’t know any congolese women that were not related to me that were not my age and now im older in my late 20s i see it as good to inspire other congolese girls that they can be whatever they want to be. That they don’t have to be just a doctor or a nurse to be accomplished they could be a teacher could be an artist they could be anything they want to be. And to have someone their age they can look up to that is not their relative because sometimes there is a cultural difference or age difference, maybe an elder wants you be a doctor and they don’t see you wanting to be creative. There is more than one way to be successful and for me doing more than one thing personally and professionally empowers. And being congolese, I feel like I am representing the Congo, I am representing African roots. So It’s the best of both worlds.
She also shares a young message to young Congolese women:
To not be afraid and it is okay if you are afraid. Its okay to have fears, its normal but always still go for whatever you’re trying to accomplish whether it is a small goal just go for it because your fears will eat you up and stop you from trying to go to the next level or step you’re trying to achieve. Once you let go of fear, everything falls in place like a domino effect and sometimes you have to put yourself up there or use the people are you to help you. Fear is one of the biggest things that gets in people’s ways. I was one of those people and i had fear of going back to school made me make excuses and it shouldn’t have taken me six years but hey it happened and that’s my story. And it’s okay, because sometimes when it is your time, it’s your time.