Naya Onyiuke '14

Naya Onyiuke '14

Describe your path since graduating from Portsmouth Abbey School.

After graduating from Portsmouth Abbey School in 2014, I attended Marist College where I studied Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Business. During my time there, I made sure to be a part of many organizations and clubs such as Black Student Union and United Nations. I also wanted to be very culturally aware on campus and went on to join the Mon Afrique organization that holds a yearly event showcasing African culture through music, dance, poetry, and fashion. By my junior and senior year, I became the head of Mon Afrique’s fashion and entertainment department. It was an amazing experience that I wanted to share with the Marist community, and it’s something that I cherished throughout my four years. Music has also been very important to me since before I started at Portsmouth Abbey, and it carried on with me to my time at Marist College. I sang during school events and was also a part of the school’s gospel choir. During my four years, I also studied and interned abroad in London, England. It was a decision that I am so thankful I made, and I wouldn’t have met so many amazing people, or been exposed to opportunities if it wasn’t for the support I received from my peers at Marist College. I graduated in 2018 and really had a passion for public relations and entertainment. I went on to work for a Fashion and Lifestyle company and a Public Relations agency. I also worked for iHeart Radio where I partook in their Jingle Ball event in both 2018 and 2019. I’m currently working at a Public Relations agency and hope to be in law school this fall.

How did your experience at Portsmouth Abbey School help you become the person and professional you are today?  

Portsmouth Abbey School helped me grow into the person I am today because it taught me discipline, leadership, and the importance of community. Going to boarding school at fourteen years old was a big step – these are the years where you grew into young women and men. From study hall to daily practices after class, the environment gave us structure and preparation for the outside world. If it were not for the Abbey, I would not have been able to experience Rome, or participate in the Lourdes France pilgrimage. It certainly helped me appreciate all the blessings and the opportunities I do have.

I remember the first day of school freshman year during assembly. I saw the head boy and head girl up on stage, and I remember saying to myself that I wanted to be head girl my senior year. I never thought I would end up getting that opportunity, but the support I got from my friends and peers allowed me to achieve this goal and believe in myself. Portsmouth Abbey gave me the opportunity to be a leader. By my senior year, not only was I head girl, but I was also a prefect and the captain of the girls’ varsity basketball team. From Ms. Benestad making our basketball team do ten grueling suicides at the end of practice, to Mr. Chenoweth hounding me to finish my Statistics homework, I thank them and all my other professors for pushing me to be the best athlete, student, and individual.

What is the best advice you could give to a current student?

The best advice I could give to a current student is to challenge yourself at the Abbey and to never sell yourself short. Being there is such an incredible opportunity and often-times we get distracted like any person would, but really appreciate your time there and make the most of the experience. If it wasn’t for the Abbey, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Be present, but also look ahead and know that in the long run every seminar, practice, and study hall is worth it. Appreciate being a part of a tight-knit community and always go to morning Mass!