Dream Catcher: Joanna Matanga, Aspiring Environmental PR Queen and Philanthropist

10:21 PM

I was that girl who felt trapped with imaginary expectations that I needed to be a doctor or a lawyer. I quickly realized that the key to happiness was to pursue what you were passionate about and give yourself the freedom to make your dreams a reality. My “light-bulb” moment occurred when I started following bloggers and I was inspired by their stories. It helped ignite a flame in me that has now started me on a path of pursuing my dreams of starting my own business.

With this inspiration, I’m excited to introduce this series called the “Dream Catchers” to you. My purpose is to give you inspiration. I want to open your mind to the limitless possibilities you have and give you a glimpse at how certain girls that I find inspirational have come so far. You'll learn about the dream catcher's dreams, struggles, and the paths they've taken.

If you are particularly inspired by a story, I’d love for you to email me and I’d love to hear your story!

Without further ado, I present to you my first dreamcatcher: Joanna Matanga, aspiring Environmental PR Queen and Philanthropist. 

I met Joanna at UNC-Chapel Hill at a campus ministry called Every Nation. I was at first intimidated by her, she was strong, not afraid to speak her opinion, and people loved her. Somehow, I managed to wedge my way into her life and she has since taken the place of "best friend" in my life. Joanna is one of the most inspirational people in my life. She is selfless, strong, courageous, and hard-working. Never has there been a time when she did not have time for me or sacrificed something to help me out. Joanna's been through her fair number of struggles but I believe that she is the inspirational person she is today because of them. I can honestly say that I wouldn't be where I am today if she hadn't entered my life. Get ready to be inspired! 

Give me three fun facts about yourself!

I love practicing modern calligraphy, my favorite bible verse is Psalm 46:5, and in my spare time I collect shoes internationally so far I have shoes from London, South Africa, Dubai, and Australia.

What do you aspire to be / What are your dreams?

I want to be a philanthropist whose focus is on water quality around the world, basically the female Bill Gates. And I aspire to be a great best friend, daughter, mother, and servant of God.

What was your lightbulb moment? 

I came into college as a BME (Biomedical Engineering) major and hated every second of it. Literally, every second of it. My heart was oddly focused on water quality especially after visiting my home country the Democratic of Republic Congo and seeing the hierarchical system of water there. It riled up the need for justice and things that go marginalized in third world countries. So, I wanted to be on the front-lines of changing the policies made concerning water distribution, management, etc.

What would you say your college experience was like?

Hell. Just kidding, but actually in college I came in so driven and determined and was so set on being a heart surgeon. I grew up in a Christian household but kind of went through Christianity in a monotonous sense, it was kind of like routine. College was where I actually got saved and that shifted a lot of my heart, motivation, dreams, and zeal. Through all of that, the experience has given me such a larger view of who I want to be, what I want to do, and who I do it for.

What is a struggle you have gone through and what advice do you have for others who may be going through it?

Wow. Uhh, pick one. Most recently was not graduating with all of my friends. Because I changed my major late and had to catch up with all of the coursework it required. That devastated me because I felt like I’d failed in some kind of way just because things didn’t look the way I thought they were meant to look. Then having to face school without my friends, I felt like I was missing out and just felt like I failed, like there was a mark that I didn’t hit correctly. Just left behind-ish. 

Advice? Your path is your own, no two look the same, and it's alright not to have all the answers. I believe that God’s plans are far greater, more vast than plans that I’d ever have for myself and if I believe that He has me where he wants me to be, that’s where I’m going to learn to trust Him more. Comparison does truly steal joy.

What do you do to overcome the hurdles that life throws at you?

Man, I process and process and pray. I mean, what else is there to do?

What are some resources you have now that you wish you had in earlier years?

Money management. Knowing that it’s okay to just be open to options. Know your options. Heed the advice of your friends.

What are you doing now to pursue your dreams?

Man, running full force. Assessing the almost perfect opportunities that kind of just fall in my lap and running at them with full speed. I’m currently interning in the Triangle where I’m excited to see how I get to hone in on the skills I held back a little bit. I get to utilize my strong leadership decision-making, organization, and planning skills to incorporate. But, I also get to enjoy the things that I love such as fashion and public speaking.

What do you do in your free time? 

Hahahahaha, what is free time? I love to cook. I love making things from scratch. I practice my modern calligraphy. I love babysitting and I plan basically every event for my friend group. I love looking at interior design and decorating and candy crush.

Thanks Joanna for being my best friend and a continuing inspiration, love you!

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  1. I love how Joanna's college experience really shaped her faith- how inspiring! Thank-you for introducing us to her :-)

    xoxo A

  2. I absoloutely love the idea of interviewing inspiring women in your life! Joanna seems like an amazing friend and such an inspired person. I love the idea of collecting shoes from all over the world, I'll have to adopt that hobby! (;

  3. Such an empowering post I think it's important that we take time to invest in a career that we love!


  4. I love your inspiration for this series and am so looking forward to future posts! Joanna sounds like an amazing woman!

  5. I can tell I'm going to love this series! Joanna sounds like an amazing woman and someone who is going to make some big changes!

    Lauren | The Arizona Prepster

  6. Loved reading this post! I think her attitude toward life is great and I enjoyed hearing her advice.

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

  7. This is a really great series, and you have such an amazing friend! I'm also on the same boat as her with changing majors and it's so inspiring to hear that it's true, we shouldn't feel bad if we are a bit behind on certain things. We have our own path to walk on, you never know what the future has in store for you :)!

    Rittz | www.rittz.me

  8. What an amazing story! I love how she wants to change the world using PR! As a recent PR grad, I completely relate to all of this. I hope to change the world of education with PR at some point. What a great woman to get to know!


  9. What a great person to interview! Love how she describes things from her childhood that have helped shape who's he is as a woman.

  10. I think that this series was a really great idea! I loved reading Joanna's story - seeing similarities between her and myself keeps me from feeling too "alone."

  11. I always love learning about people. It's always so inspirational. I love her story and how she talks about her childhood!


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