WHM:Amina Anekwe


Amina Anekwe is a current junior at West Orange High School, Class of 2022.  Her life is defined by her love for the arts. Amina sings, dances, and plays guitar. She has over five years of training in West African dancing and Djembe drumming.

As an original member of 5 girls of GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s SuperCamp, Amina served for two years as Secretary of the SuperGirls Society, also known as SGS. As a GrassROOTS Supergirl, she designed and implemented a social action project titled MathWizGames: a STEM-based game whose goal is to bolster girls’ confidence in math.

Amina is an avid traveler who has been to over 12 countries and speaks Spanish

fluently. She is the girl ambassador for the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign, which aims to increase access to menstrual essentials and end period shame. She traveled with the GrassROOTS team to Jamaica, West Indies, and Ghana. In 2019, in Africa, Amina helped to donate over 50,000 sanitary products to over 1,000 girls.

As a child of Jamaican and Nigerian ancestry, she hopes to become an actor and

Broadway performer when she grows up.

Some of Amina’s awards include earning the Superior Medal for Contrasting Monologue from NJ Thespian Festival and the Gift of Life Young Leaders Award from African Health Now.


Q: What is GrassROOTS? 

A: “GrassRoots Community Foundation is a training organization with a mission to help all girls grow up to be healthy women. I’ve been a part of GrassROOTS since I was 5 years old. Actually, I was a part of their summer intensive training program called ‘SuperCamp,’ which is a 4-5 week program, and we’ve done so many different things. We do things from social justice to singing and dancing, and normally, at the end of the year, we have a final performance where we showcase all the things we’ve learned. Normally, it’s a piece of poetry, a project of some sort. One year, we did a wellness internship with RWJBarnabas. Another year, we did one with NYU.”


Q: With already designing and implementing MathWizGames, is STEM always something that you have been interested in? Is STEM something you see yourself doing in the future?

A: “As a kid, I really, really, did like mathematics. I think I’ve always been great at STEM, like science and math has always been something that [I’ve been great in]. But, I think my passion has definitely shifted more into theatre art. But, I definitely won’t give up on it.”


Q: How did the #EndPeriodPoverty campaign come about?

A: “This is actually a global campaign. I’m not the first to ever join this campaign, and I’m not going to be the last one to do it. I actually learned about #EndPeriodPoverty in 2017, when I took a trip to Jamaica. We went do donate books with #1000BlackGirlBooks, Marley Dias’ campaign,  and pads to St. James High School, and we met with, soon to be, Dr. Shelly-Ann Weeks. She is the founder of the HerFlow Foundation, which is a foundation that works to attack period poverty in Jamaica, who introduced it to [the GrassROOTS Foundation and I].”


Q: How does the accessibility of sanitary productions differentiate between America and the places you have traveled? How about in your community?

A: “Well, we first learned about it in Jamaica and I, and the founder of GrassROOTS,  am actually from Jamaica, so I feel like we always had an affiliation with Jamaica. We’ve also done work in Newark, New Jersey, at Central High School, where we established a whole period pantry. It seemed like it was a global problem, but we hadn’t even really recognized it in our own community. With the pandemic, my mom and I talked and worked on [presenting] a plan to Dr.Cascone (West Orange Superintendent). After realizing that 45% of our school district qualifies for free or reduced lunch, which is a measure of economic insecurity, we suggested that there may also be a need for period poverty, as there is a strong connection between economic insecurity and period poverty. It wasn’t until we really saw those numbers and statistics that I realized there may also be a need in my community. In terms of West Orange, I’ve worked with the student council and, more specifically, Ms.Catherine Connors. Essentially, [Ms.Connors] has a whole pantry in her room for girls to come in and have access, and because of her, we were able to work towards creating a pantry and donations for the food and services pantry.” 


Q: Where has been your favorite place to travel? Where would you like to travel, that you have not traveled to already?

A: “This is so hard cause I’ve been to so many places! I really loved Puerto Rico, but number one is Peru! I love Peru so much. That’s when I set my sights on becoming fluent in Spanish, and I had this banging sandwich too, but that’s beside the point! I really want to go to Seoul, South Korea, and Maldives.”


Q: Other than being fluent in both the English and Spanish language, are there other languages you speak? Any languages you would like to learn?

A: “My mom would say otherwise, but I can speak Patois (an English-based creole language), and I’m currently learning Korean. I never thought I could learn a language, to begin with. I may go with Mandarin or French, but we’ll see!’


Q: What are your plans for college?

A: “I really do want to go to Pomona. It’s a school part of the Claremont Consortium, in Southern California. At first, I really wanted to major in acting, but I think I actually want to major in humanities and get a Bachelor of Arts. I have interests in languages, history, arts, and ELA. In terms of my life, I want to continue doing #EndPeriodPoverty work. I want to get involved in the acting industry, learn languages, study abroad, and so much more. I’ll see where life takes me.” 


Q: Who or what inspires you as an advocate for women and women’s health?

A: “I’d say two people definitely inspire me. First would be Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, who’s the President of GrassROOTS. Dr. Janice is just so inspiring in many different ways. She is so smart and grounded. She blazes a path for young black girls, which is awesome! She has a book out called “Parent Like It Matters,” about how to raise happy, healthy, social change makers.  Secondly, my mom. My mom is also one of the most brilliant humans I’ve ever met, in my whole entire life! The way that she has evolved and explains her journey, and how she is grounded in her spirituality and self worth is really inspiring.” 


Q: In today’s society, what advice would you give to women all over the world?

A: “ I would say you have to find what you’re passionate about and find problems in the world that light a fire in yourself, and try to use your passion to change those problems. Also, as we are in a patriarchal society, don’t get too absorbed into the darkness of the world. It’s very easy to get absorbed into all the hate crimes or how messed up the justice system is, it’s so easy to feel lost and so powerless. Be aware of your power and how powerful you are!