The Alumni Times - N.C. A&T State University Alumni Newsletter
Young Entrepreneurs

Success Series Highlights Young Entrepreneurs

As a young child and teenager, Ngozi Opara ‘10 was shy and felt she was “awkward.” Growing up in a very strict Nigerian household, the Washington, D.C. native felt her voice wasn’t one that people wanted to hear. She watched others accomplish things and knew that she too would one day do the same, but she ultimately lacked the confidence.

All it took was a short amount of time on campus and Opara discovered she too had something to say; and she didn’t waste any time as she began talking to everyone and anyone she could. She realized that it was the perfect opportunity for her to step outside of her comfort zone, be the person she always wanted to be and do the things she was passionate about.  She even earned the title Miss A&T.

On Wednesday, Feb. 10, Opara returned to North Carolina A&T as the keynote speaker for the Office of New Student Programs’ Spring Success Series: Leadership and Civic Engagement. She spoke frankly about her childhood, her determination to overcome her fears and the successes as well as failures of being the CEO of Heat Free Hair, a custom, natural hair extension manufacturer and owner of N-ZO Beauty, LLC.

She specifically addressed the students and challenged them to begin making moves toward their future while at A&T.

“For me this is a unique opportunity that I really wanted to jump at because there’s nothing like the time you will spend here at A&T. I feel like it’s important for you all to be able to see alumni, hear our stories and know that there’s so much life outside of here, but it really all starts with what you do while you are here,” she said.

Opara worked as a financial analyst by day and a specialty salon owner by night, but her passion was in the hair care industry. Eventually, after months of saving her regular salary and relying solely on what she received from her salon, she decided to take the plunge and began working in the salon full time. Never satisfied with the status quo, Opara wanted to know how to produce her own extensions. She realized she had to go to the source, so she moved to China, learned how to manufacture her own hair extensions and now she’s revolutionizing the natural hair care industry.

Although she admitted doubt and fear have always crept into her mind, she admonished the eager crowd to use fear as fuel to move forward.

“Fear has a negative connotation, but for me fear has been a really powerful tool. It has been the one thing that I have allowed myself to feel. I don’t ignore it. I acknowledge it, and then I keep going,” she said. “When I moved to China I was very afraid. I just said if fear is going to be what cripples me and what stops me from getting to where I want to be and go, then I have to conquer fear.”

The night also included a “real talk” panel discussion with other young alumni entrepreneurs, Travis Jackson ‘11, CEO of HBCU Pride Nation LLC; LaTisha Jaye ’12, CEO/owner of EducateDancer Dance Studio; Canisha Cierra Turner ’14, account executive for Fox 8 WGHP; Greg E. Hill ’11, author and motivational speaker; Alexandra Deraye Funches ’05, owner/creator of Deraye Bath & Body; and Hercules Conway ’04, founder and CEO of NxLevel Lifestyle & Entertainment Group LLC. Quite befitting, the theme for the evening was, “It all Started at ‘T.’”

The panel fielded questions from the moderator and from the nearly-packed audience of students, faculty, staff, business owners and aspiring business owners. The group discussed the importance of branding, reputation, excellence, business acumen, overcoming failures and the overall powers they possess to accomplish their own goals.

The success series encourages students to become more involved in campus events, in their communities and provide relatable experiences of what it means when “Aggies Do!”

Send Us Your News  
Do you have good news to share? Have you recently received a promotion or special recognition? If you’d like to be considered for a future story, click here.

Back to e-Blast
Follow A&T
Facebook Twitter
Without the gifts of alumni and friends, N.C. A&T would not be the exceptional institution it is today.
Give Now