Tips On How To Get Financial Aid In College/University

Tips On How To Get Financial Aid In College/University

Building your secondary education is a goal pursued by many. The benefit of furthering your education is good for both your personal and mental growth. But let’s be real, the cost to achieve a good education is ridiculously high. Many people either drop out of college or end up in a lifetime of financial debt due to loans and their interest rates. Personally, coming from a family who could barely make it financially,

Personally, coming from a family who could barely make it financially, University was not thought about in the budget. However, here I am. Two scholarships (full-ride) that will enable me to fly across the world to study. Here are some tips on how I was able to get some achievements:

What is the cost?

Knowing the cost of what you want to study is the foundation of landing financial aid.

Financially – tuition and expenses vary based on the school, degree, state/providence, and country. Making a chart with the total expense per year will give you an idea as to how much you will need to source.
Personally – know exactly what getting the degree will mean to you. Know the value it will have on your career and future. This will help you in writing personal statements and being honest with yourself and potential contributors.

Know your “FC”

What is FC? FC stands for a financial contribution. This is where you look at funds put aside by your family for you to go to university/college. This is important because subtracting this from your total cost (found on your chart from step 1) will tell you how much you would need to seek in financial aid.
I had no FC and that didn’t stop me, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t have any assistance either.

Research, Research, Research 

Utilize the resources around you. The internet is filled with information on the different scholarships within your school, town and country. Check your school to see the financial aid they supply for particular students. Do not limit yourself. Look at big and small corporations and what they have to offer. Some corporations even ask you to be on their paid internship if you land a scholarship/. Look in newspapers and other scholarship catalogs to see the funds that apply to you and your study. The more research you conduct the better your chances.


Looking at the scholarship details, current scholars and alumni you may feel intimidated or discouraged because of the criteria, maintenance or status of those persons. However, apply. Don’t sell yourself and your abilities short. The more you apply to, the better your chances to get one. I can personally say, I went through the process and I know the people before me are excellent and brilliant. However, I didn’t undermine my possibilities. I have the ability to go for anything that will take me closer to my goal. So do you.

After you have gone through the process of building your foundation, understanding your finances, researching your possibilities and applying – wait. Being patient allows you to admire what you have done and the process you are going through. Understand that, right now, all you can do is pray and have faith in the process. Most of us overthink and stress over things that are no longer in our control. You have done your part, let the organization do theirs.

I do hope you find these tips worthwhile. I wish you nothing but blessings and the motivation you need to go and develop your education without a financial burden

Pursuing Multiple Passions: 6 Steps to Help Guide Your Vision

Pursuing Multiple Passions: 6 Steps to Help Guide Your Vision

“Find that one thing you enjoy doing, get good at doing it, then make a living doing it professionally.”

How often have we heard this preached to us in one form or another? Though it sounds like solid advice, what happens when your passion and expertise lies in more than one area? When you have multiple interests, strengths, and feel drawn to excel in multiple fields?

Well, if you’re like me, this article’s for you. This article’s also for anyone convinced that pursuing multiple passions is the perfect equation for chaos.

Over the years, I’ve found it challenging having to narrow my dream career to just one —constantly finding myself gravitating towards different interests and opportunities that seem to have no clear connection to one another. Frustrated from feeling like I was doing the whole career selection thing wrong, I started seriously reflecting and asking myself important questions like, “What do I see myself doing? What makes me feel fulfilled? What do I have to offer the world?” 

I haven’t figured out all the answers. However, asking these questions made me realize my frustrations were stemming from trying to live out my dreams the way society has mapped out the course. Life doesn’t often follow that route, though. It’s okay to go against the grain, to go down the road less travelled.

I’ve now managed to shift my perspective. I’m learning to truly trust and follow my heart, and the endless examples of people who’ve successfully done the same have helped make journeys like mine less rugged. An enthusiasm to pursue multiple passions shouldn’t be considered a risk, weakness, loss of focus, or misdirection. Continue asking the necessary questions and trust the process.

Here are 6 guiding steps to fall back on when you find yourself second guessing if you’re making the choice that’s right for you:

Surround yourself with positive support systems.

Living out your dreams isn’t easy. Constantly being in the company of negative people with a lack of positive supports can make this process more challenging when you’re making important life choices. It pays off to dedicate time towards identifying the people you trust will be there to support you best at whatever stage you’re at. It can be a family member, friend, teacher, pastor—you name it!

If you don’t know who or what your supports look like do your research. Find people who are pursuing careers in the same areas of your interests. Learn from their successes and their failures. Watch interviews, read articles, attend workshops, events, and conferences that’ll give you insight and connect you with the people, information, and resources that can equip, aid, and direct you.

Invest in self-care.

Self-care is vital. It’s impossible to build a secure future without looking out for you. While working towards building your dreams, it becomes easy to get caught up in caring for everything and everyone other than yourself. Demanding work schedules and a tonne of responsibilities coming from managing several pursuits can prevent you from crafting out time to take care of you.

What self-care looks like varies from person to person. Whether you choose to do it big or keep it simple, investing in you goes a long way. Remember, abandon any idea in your mind that says self-care is egotistical.

Silence the voices of naysayers.

When you’re trying to gain focus and work towards a dream or goal, people seem to voluntarily show up in your life and go out of their way to offer “friendly” advice, share their experiences, or “direct” you…

“Actually, teaching doesn’t seem like a field that you’ll grow in, you’d make a great realtor, though!” 

*Deep sigh*

…Thanks, but no thanks!

Too many negative and biased opinions can stop you from attending to your main focus—which is doing what you feel called to do. Whether or not the intention behind someone else’s input or advice is good or bad, one thing to be cautious of is how much influence you allow naysayers to have in shaping your choices, decisions, and actions. Seeking advice from anyone who wants to chime in is a big NO, NO, because not everyone has your best interest in mind. Even the ones who do won’t know entirely what’s ultimately best for you.

Get organized and prioritize.

Knowing where to place your time is crucial. You definitely need to be prepared to multitask, which requires you getting organized. Knowing what’s priority on your to-do list will save you from additional stress. There are a lot of great free apps and resources that’ll help you get the job done if you use them effectively.

Life happens, but planning ahead will make a difference that gives you a strategic advantage in the long run.

Trust your heart

This is another simple yet very essential step. Many of us know ourselves enough to know when our heart is leading us to act or not act on a thought, belief, or emotion. Our minds can get us into the habit of doubting, trying to make logical decisions to come up with solutions, and understand everything. It’s not always easy to remind ourselves to trust our hearts.

Just do it!

Most of us are familiar with the ever so popular Nike slogan, “Just do it.” The act of just doing sounds simple—however, the process isn’t quite so, if you know what I mean. Things like doubt, uncertainty, and fear can get in the way of progress. There’ll be times when you don’t feel ready, but it’s just a matter of following through with the first step and moving forward from there. 

There’s no solid blueprint or error-proof formula that I can share to get you from point A to point B, and that’s okay. It’s okay to not know, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way, as long as you don’t allow the fear of moving forward to stop you from reaching your goals.

Finding the ‘Why’

Finding the ‘Why’

In the last couple of months, I have been thinking about officially launching my media business. It has been terrifying. I have not been getting much sleep worrying about the possibilities of failing at this new chapter of my life. I know within myself that this is the right step to take at this junction of my life, but that does not mean that I am not afraid of what is unknown.

The older I get, I am realizing that I have become more fearful than ever.  Certain things I did as a young woman, I can’t even imagine doing now. So what has changed? Why am I so fearful?  Because I am still me. Why do I procrastinate so much when I what I should be doing? I will share a little story about myself. When I was 18 years old, I bought a one-way bus ticket from Prince George, British Columbia to Toronto. I came here not knowing a single soul. My landlord had to pick up me up from Downsview Station because I called him panicking and crying after a few hours of attempting to find the house. I came to Toronto with $1000.00 and a brand CIBC Classic Visa to my name. I went to college and graduated. I worked as a Paralegal for a couple of years then I decided to go back to university to obtain my degree in International Development Studies.

In my third year as I was preparing to take my LSATS, I realized that I wanted to be a storyteller. But I did not want to be any kind of a storyteller, I wanted to be a storyteller with a media empire. Most often I ask myself how would build a media empire with little experience, educational background, and limited resources? I am back to where I began 10 years old when I bought that one-way bus ticket to Toronto. So, why I can’t I take this leap of faith just like I did before? I believe that’s not the right question to ask myself. Instead, I should ask myself, why do I want to build a media empire? The one thing I realized is that the ‘why’ is more powerful and than the ‘how’.

I know what you are thinking – get to the point already! My point is that no matter what field you are in, the “WHY” or in other words the purpose will be the glue that holds everything together when shit begins to fall apart. For instance, as an emerging film director, I have no guarantee of success in this industry. Statistics show that less than 1% of filmmakers make it BIG.  With these types of odds, I should of went to law school. Again, it’s the ‘how’ that’s important but the ‘why’.

The following is my reason for why I wanted to become a storyteller. As you read my reasons, I want you to start thinking of your reason for being whatever you want to be. I promise you, no matter the outcome, your reason will be the only thing that keeps you going even when you want to give up.

My inspiration and passion for the world of filmmaking are deeply rooted in telling stories of our shared human experience, with a particular focus on inclusion, accessibility, and diversity. For me, documentary film is the best way to tell stories of our shared human experience, to garner empathy for “the other” and elicit emotional responses to worlds and people we would otherwise ignore or disagree with.

Furthermore, I want to make films that challenge audiences to (re)think their understanding of people and social issues. I want to use documentary to complicate and problematize social issues to show their true complexity. Specifically, I want to do so with stories about African representation and women. The documentary films I like are those that challenge me to re-read a historic event of the past or shed light on a character in a new way.

I believe that artists of color have the responsibility to create work that combats the danger of the single story. As explained by Chimamanda Ngozi Achie, when communities are not involved in the creation of their own stories, a dangerous narrative emerges that creates a stereotypical and incomplete image of that community. I strive to involve my subjects in the process of making my films.

This reason led me to participant in one of the most well-respected media training programs in the city which led me to co-directing my first documentary.

As of now, I am currently in pre-production for two other film projects and a children’s book in works. What I want to leave with is that, find your ‘why’. Why do you want to be an author, doctor, business owner or a wife? Find the purpose behind what you want to do. As I mentioned previously, although I terrified of launching my business, I am fully confident that my ‘why’ is strong enough to stand whatever that may I come.


8 Tips To Help Get Over A Broken Heart

8 Tips To Help Get Over A Broken Heart

So you’ve got a broken heart…

I’m really, really sorry that you’re in a state of emotional pain. But… I’m equally hopeful for you & what’s ahead, so please hang in tight & hold onto you.

I’d like to remind you that it’s completely normal to fall in love with someone & realize that this person is not FOR you, or going to stay with you forever. Whether it’s because you two are incompatible, an act of betrayal occurred, or you simply fell apart. Regardless of which end of the break up you’re on – Dumpee or Dumped, your pain matters and your feelings are valid.

When I went through my own break-ups, I remember it being a very stressful time. My life seemingly changed overnight and I had to re-route myself, navigate awkward social settings, and throw away all future plans with this person. Breakups can be so stressful and painful, I can 100% relate to the turmoil you’re experiencing.

From someone who has dealt with The Break-Up Bug and recovered from its sting stronger each time, I want to advise you on how to deal with all the tears, fears, & confusion you may be going through.

This is what I wish someone would have told me when I was in my mess of emotions. (PS – Some tough love ahead <3)

Your heart is actually being broken open.

As all the devastation, pain & grief pours out of you, please know that there is so much love, harmony & peace about to pour back into your life, if you wait & allow it.

Do not close off your heart from the world because someone else was careless with it. Do your best to be open your heart up to new experiences, relationships, and friendships! Trust that if you were able to love the wrong person, imagine how much love you could give & receive to the RIGHT person.

A broken heart is not your destination in life.

But it IS a one of a kind lesson & opportunity only you can learn from.

The sadness from a broken-heart is really like no other sadness, right? You very well still have feelings for this person and now must face a life without them.

When my 5-year relationship came to a final end, I remember it feeling like I was learning to walk again figuratively speaking. Re-learning how to do life on my own and deal with the fact that I’m now single again.

It’s okay to still care for your ex, but it’s not okay to let the end of the relationship affect your mental or physical health. Many of us turn to numbing the pain with ____ (fill in the blank) but in doing so, we avoid the lessons we’re really meant to be learning.

No relationship is worth your health or your life. Your broken heart, or the depression you may be experiencing, is not your destination in life. Try to look at the break-up as a bridge your meant to cross in order to live a better life and find a person more suitable for you.

Grieve my child, grieve.

I encourage grieving. You have to TAKE TIME to process all that’s just happened and what you’re feeling. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably re-read old text messages, replayed fights and arguments in your head and overanalyzed the start, middle & end of your relationship. That’s okay but don’t get stuck there.

What’s important to know is that the pain you’re feeling, the reality of the sadness that comes from losing someone who held a special place in your heart, is a very authentic experience to YOU.

There are 5 stages of grieving: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance.

You will absolutely zig & zag through the grieving stages. Getting over a break-up doesn’t always happen in a straight line. Even for myself, years after my first relationship, I can sometimes still feel the sadness from the day he confessed his infidelity, but I’ve accepted the situation and remain grateful for what it’s taught me about myself & life.

Your ex will always be a chapter in your story but they are not the whole book; be grateful for your moment in time together but move on hun, because you deserve happiness, too.

There’s help and support available from professionals if things become too dark for too long.

List & utilize your support system.

I’m guilty of being that girl that neglects her friends and family when she gets romantically involved with someone. It happens to the best of us but ultimately it’s not a wise thing to do.

When the romantic relationship is no longer standing, it’s very sobering to realize your other relationships haven’t been given much attention.

A break-up is an opportunity to get back in touch with the people who bring out the best in you & remind you how lovable you are.

Write in the Notes on your phone the names of your 5 closest friends/family.

Beside each name, jot down how that person can help you get through the breakup or just things you’ve been meaning to do with them. It’s good to remind yourself that other people still love & need you. This is what mine looked like:

Mom – reflection, wisdom, crying

Sister – crying, shit-talking (lol do what you gotta do to heal amirighttt?!)

Julia & Brittney – encouragement, girls night outs, adventures

Deo – pep talks, laughter, advice

Bernard – laughter, encouragement

Engage with the people on your list immediately & let them know where you are in your heartache. Be vulnerable with them. I told my support system that I needed them to check up on me every now & then and in doing so, I also became a bigger part of their support system, too.

Confront feelings of guilt, rejection or anger.

I remember being pretty pissed off when my ex-broke up with me.

Like, really, you’re trying to leave allll of thisss?!

If you’re the one being broken up with:

Remember, what feels like rejection, is truly re-direction.

I thank God that that relationship didn’t work out, even though at the time, I wanted so badly for us to go the distance. Understand that the person initiating the break-up only has 1 life to live, and so do you. With that said, know that there is NOTHING wrong with you. And if the person breaks up with you in a nasty way, then it’s even clearer that you are not the problem.

Sometimes people end up not being compatible or their needs change. Example: Oil & Water don’t mix – it doesn’t mean that Oil is useless and Water has no purpose. Oil must let Water find the element it mixes well with and Water must let go & vice versa.

If you’re the one who initiated the break up:

You may be experiencing guilt. You understand that you’ve changed the dynamics of the relationship by no longer being willing to participate romantically or even at all. Your needs aren’t being met and you’re doing what feels like a favour, but it can still be hard not to feel horrible. These feelings will pass but in the meantime…

Be as kind, yet firm as possible! Set boundaries that enforce the new dynamic you wish to have.

I’m also guilty of breaking up with boyfriends then letting them back into my life or bedroom afterward. Don’t play yourself. This isn’t healthy & prolongs the grieving/healing process.

Don’t let the bitterness spoil your sweetness.

Be empowered & know you are in fact loveable. That fact that the relationship happened at all proves you’re a desirable person. What you felt was real, the affection exchanged was real. Your love is good, & the type of love you give is worthy of a good lover! Read that sentence twice so it seeps in.

Have compassion for yourself. The one thing I would tell myself during my experience is “Just be better for the next one”. Because honestly, there are 7 billion people on this planet…. you WILL find love again. Better yourself, grow from this, & continue to be the sweet loving person that you are.

Reflect, then Release (Repeat often).

Why did the breakup happen? I got asked this question a lot and as often as I’d say “We just weren’t getting along”, the truth is, there are always reasons why things don’t work out. Perfectly normal reasons.

Key point: Reason doesn’t mean blame. It takes two to tango & it takes two to not work out. Take accountability for your actions, strengths & shortcomings in the relationship. Maybe you need to be more trusting in future relationships, maybe he wasn’t emotionally available, maybe the two of you were too young; whatever the case – take time to reflect on how things broke down, what you know about yourself NOW & what your needs in future relationships will be, then carry on.

The best revenge is not a new relationship to flaunt in your ex’s face, or whatever you think will make the person regret leaving you. The best revenge is release. Eventually, let that person and the relationship have ZERO effect on your emotional state – release him/her with kindness & peace & walk into the new chapter of your life. Let go because what is meant for you will never pass you, my love.

What is coming is better than what is gone.

Ask yourself what beauty will I create with space they no longer occupy?

The breakups I’ve gone through ended up being the catalyst that helped me reach my goals and dreams. I had more time to focus on myself and I chose to fill my life with new experiences, travel, beauty & healthier relationships.

*Originally Published on NarleyK 

Pregnancy, Planning, and Paperwork

Pregnancy, Planning, and Paperwork

So, you’re pregnant. Congratulations!! If you’re like most new moms to be: excited, overwhelmed, and counting down the weeks left until you meet your little bundle of joy that you have been carrying for 9 months.

But, if you are also like most new moms to be, you’re also pretty tired from being pregnant and having to work long hours to ensure you are financially secure for your little one or existing family, even if you have a partner. Whether your self-employed, got a 9-5, 5-10, or managing a few side hustles all once, I’ve compiled 5 key points to remember when you’re a work ninja, but also expecting!

My company, Baby Steps Guru provides maternity and parental leave guidance, and saves parents a headache, hassle, and lots of time, knowing how to navigate through the business side of having a baby!
Time better spent on bonding with your newborn baby, instead of handling paperwork!

As someone with extensive knowledge and more than a decade of experience, when dealing with group benefits, human resources, and government agencies such as Service Canada, I know how to make the planning of your little arrival less stressful.

I’ve listed 5 tips no one ever tells you but is important to know when preparing for your little one and can save you a lot of prep time and unnecessary paperwork:

TIP 1:  If you are employed, make sure you review and/or update your group benefits prior to your mat leave. It’s way more time consuming and a headache to get it done on your leave. If your self-employed and have an independent plan, notify your agent directly to look into your family options

TIP 2: Speaking of self-employment, did you know that you could qualify for EI maternity benefits if you’re self-employed?? For more details on this, email me at

TIP 3: If you have a medically complicated pregnancy and need to leave work early, ensure you utilize all your sick time, and vacation time if it can’t be carried forward to when you return. You don’t want to lose those days! FYI, you could also apply for sickness EI prior to starting your mat leave

TIP 4: You only need 600 hours to qualify for EI maternity or sickness benefits, but you need them within a 1-year period from your last day worked.  Hours worked prior to 1-year period do not get used.

TIP 5:  If your baby needs additional care and needs to stay in the hospital for medical reasons for 1 week or more, your mat leave period could potentially be extended for the duration of the period that your baby remains in the hospital before going home. For more info on this, feel free to send me an email.

Bonus tip: Did you know you could apply for maternity leave up to 8 weeks prior to your due date if you’re no longer working?

If you are expecting and would like to discuss information in this post or other maternity benefit related question or would like to know about the services I provide, send me an email at or visit my website, .

The Power of Positive Messaging: 2017 SuperModel Canada Winner, Paves Her Own Lane on the Runway

The Power of Positive Messaging: 2017 SuperModel Canada Winner, Paves Her Own Lane on the Runway

In a realm like fashion that is not only demanding, but highly competitive, the path to a successful career isn’t an easy feat for a young model trying to establish a distinct brand alongside thousands of professionals striving for similar milestones. However, for 2017 SuperModel Canada winner Nini Amerlise, the captivating story of her steady rise in fashion is one of higher purpose and triumph.

Since beginning her career in 2014, the internationally-featured, award-winning model has confidently slayed an impressive list of runways including New York Fashion Week, Toronto Fashion Week, and African Fashion Week Toronto. She has graced the pages of popular publications like Vogue and is working endlessly to promote a message of faith, positivity, self-love, and empowerment amongst millennials.

Redefining Her Passion and Finding Her Purpose

Throughout childhood, Nini was often bullied and endured years wrestling with extremely low self-esteem and depression. The emotional and mental scarring caused by ongoing verbal abuse and mistreatment by her childhood peers spanned as far as racist slurs and death wishes. In 2014, however, her life took a transformative turn. Nini responded to a casting call and auditioned to model and become the “Face of African Fashion Week Toronto”, all the while battling with damaging thoughts, painful experiences, and numerous insecurities. Despite questioning if she had what it took to stand apart from the other competing models, Nini stepped out in faith and walked into her newfound passion and calling.

I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with Nini, who is now using her story to influence the younger generation and impact the fashion industry. Continue reading below to find out how this purpose-driven model has managed to build a strong brand, while connecting with millennials along her journey.

What led you to get into the fashion industry?

After auditioning for African Fashion Week Toronto in 2014, it sparked a desire for me to learn more about the industry and how to become a professional model. I’ve always been a creative person, and because fashion is a creative-based industry, it fuelled that desire for me to express myself through this platform. It led me to understand myself. That understanding developed into self-love and appreciation—something that I didn’t feel before this experience. I once felt unloved and unappreciated by the world due to the harsh experience of being bullied.

With fashion being such a competitive industry, what are some of the challenges you have when it comes to gaining exposure and setting yourself apart from other models?

In most fashion shows and casting calls, they particularly choose one token black model. This makes black models who attend castings feel threatened by one another. There are also challenges that I have when hairstylists for shows and photo shoots are working with my natural hair. Despite that, I don’t view modeling as though it’s a competition. If one door closes, I can go through another. There are opportunities for everyone.

How have you carved out your personal brand?

My afro has set me apart—it expresses my personality and gives me that unique look. The more I became confident in my skin and truly understood what it meant to be fearfully and wonderfully made by my Creator, the more I found my brand identity. I am a reflection of God’s love and this love is reflected through my brand. Through it, I’ve been able to influence millennials and connect with them on a deeper level.

As a young rising supermodel, has expressing your faith and weaving it into your brand identity been challenging?

I get pressured to not share my true love for God. I used to be afraid of how others in the industry would respond to this. I find that many people place judgments on God without knowing Him. I honestly don’t focus on religiosity. For me, it’s all about relationship—this perspective is what has allowed me to speak openly about my faith, which is founded on love.

You have also managed to build many authentic relationships through your unique brand. How have you managed to strengthen these connections throughout your career? 

I try to bring a sense of humility to fashion. Many view fashion and entertainment as elite industries. We often put celebrities on high platforms. So, I try to make a welcoming connection with my audience. I do my best to reply to comments on social media and show that I am approachable and not above my followers in any way. I believe that’s how God intends for it to be. In this industry relationships are extremely important! Every time I do a casting, I try to make a close connection with everyone who’s involved, including the designer. Since interactions at castings are so brief, when I get the opportunity to, I make an effort to learn more about the designer I’m working with and understand what the inspirations are behind their collection. The industry is so diverse, and I’m always happy to constantly be learning.

According to you, what are 3 steps to nurturing a successful brand?

One, identify what the purpose is behind your brand. Two, once you’ve done that, put your vision into momentum in order to see it become a reality. Three, once that vision-driven momentum is fuelled, stay consistent until things come into fruition. Consistency is key. Never give up!

Nini Amerlise did an interview for the GT Network sharing her journey and the obstacles she faced growing up being bullied. Through these challenges she was able to rise up and provide advice and inspire women everywhere to love their bodies, continue to fight past the negativity and embrace the skin they are in. Beauty comes from within and is not judged according to how other people see you, because your soul sparks so much light into this world and you deserve to shine.

Follow Nini on Instagram: @nini_4u
Twitter/Snapchat: @NiniAmerlise
Youtube: Nini Amerlise