Life in Malawi inspires Annie Mbale’s goal to empower women

UMSL Daily

MBA student Annie Mbale grew up in a culture where educational and promising career opportunities weren’t guaranteed, especially for women. She’s hopeful that a bachelor’s and forthcoming MBA degree from UMSL will propel her career as well as the career outlook for other women in her home country of Malawi. (Photo by August Jennewein)
Annie Mbale was organizing a few of her belongings earlier this year when a piece of paper she didn’t recognize fell to the floor.
Curiosity drew her to pick up the note and begin to read through the bulleted list:
graduate from high school
wait until at least 30 to get married
leave the village
The list continued on with 27 more self-imposed challenges for Mbale, a Malawi native, to meet by the time she was 30. Some of the checklist items were frivolous goals her 15-year-old self had composed after flipping through magazines. Eating pizza with her hands and resembling Beyoncé were a few such items. Others were loftier career and educational ambitions she wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to accomplish.
Fifteen years later, the University of Missouri–St. Louis graduate and current MBA student has crossed off all but three items and expanded on many of the goals. But until recently, Mbale wasn’t particularly proud of what she had accomplished thus far.
“I wish I was proud,” she said. “That’s one of my struggles. I don’t get satisfied that easily, and maybe that’s because I’ve always said I needed to do better. I didn’t feel very accomplished until I found the list I wrote myself when I was 15. When I read through it, I finally felt like I had done well.”
Until the list reappeared around her 30th birthday, Mbale had never discussed or shown it to anyone. Even she had forgotten about it.

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