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Why Your Struggle Is Not Your Identity — With Kechi Okwuchi

By March 28, 2022April 6th, 2022No Comments

Kechi Okwuchi is a Nigerian American recording artist, author, and motivational speaker. One of two survivors in the Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 crash on December 10, 2005, that killed 100 people, she was a finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2017 and has put out her own original music since her appearance on the hit TV show. As a burn survivor, one of the first things you will notice when you meet Kechi Okwuchi is her scars that cover her body, but Kechi has refused to be defined by them. Kechi shares her incredible journey with us — a story of not just surviving impossible odds but thriving in a world that is too often caught up with how we look on the outside rather than seeing that our true value is within. Kechi has spent the last 16 years refusing to be defined by her trauma. Kechi’s strong sense of identity, rooted in seeing herself the way God sees her, has allowed her to live authentically in a world that constantly seeks to define us by its ever-changing (and ever-shallow) standards. Kechi’s story will inspire you to see yourself through God’s eyes and confidently present your true self to the world.

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Why Your Struggle Is Not Your Identity — With Kechi Okwuchi

We are going to talk about a topic that is so relevant in each of our lives. I want to open us with a question. How often do you feel defined by your struggles, accomplishments, and other exterior things in your life? We have a beautiful and resilient guest who is here to remind us that our struggle is not our identity. She has overcome so much. She is one of the strongest people that I know through her book. She has an amazing story that you have to read for yourself.

She was a finalist at the twelfth season of America’s Got Talent in 2017, where Simon Cowell gave her the golden buzzer, which we all love when Simon gets the golden buzzer, sending her straight to the finals. She has a TEDx Speaker and the author of the new book, More Than My Scars: The Power of Perseverance, Unrelenting Faith, and Deciding What Defines You. She is our new sister, Kechi Okwuchi.

Kechi, welcome to our community. We’re so honored to have you.

Thank you so much for having me. I am truly honored to be here on your show.

Your story is so amazing. For those who haven’t met you yet, I’m hoping that you’ll open us by sharing what you feel led to share about your story.

My name is Kechi Okwuchi. I’m a soon-to-be-published author. I’m a singer, speaker, and ambassador for many different causes that I’m passionate about, like burn survivors and bullying prevention. It’s my honor to be able to say and identify these things about myself because it’s been a journey to get to this place. It’s been a long, not very easy journey, but I feel like every single thing has happened in order to lead me to where I am now. This includes being right here in this show as well. I’m honored to be here.

For those of you who haven’t known Kechi’s story or seen her videos online, at sixteen years old, you were headed home to Nigeria from boarding school. Sixty of your classmates who were like family to you were on that plane with you, and the plane crashed. You were 1 of 2 survivors. I don’t know how many years it was exactly that you spent fighting for your life. Will you share a little bit about that part of your story with us?

It was a plane crash that happened when I was sixteen years old. The date was December 10th, 2005. It was a Saturday. My boarding school was within Nigeria. I was flying home from boarding school from one state to another state, essentially within the same country. It was a regular commercial plane. There were 60 students aside from myself on the plane and other passengers. There were 109 people on board, including the flight crew.

We were on a regular flight, nothing unusual until everything went to hell. It was about 15 to 20 mins left in the flight when the chaos started. It started with the turbulence that continued and got worse, and then people started panicking and screaming. I remember the last thing I did was hold my friend’s hand. She was in an aisle seat next to mine. We were in front of the plane. That was the last thing I remember doing before everything went dark. My next vivid memory after that is opening my eyes, and five weeks have passed. I was now in a hospital in South Africa with third-degree burns over 65% of my body, and I was waking up from a coma.

South Africa was where I spent the next 7 months, 4 months in the Burn ICU, and 3 months in the ward recovering from the intense insults that had happened to my body. I was there with my family. My mom never left my side from the beginning up until this moment. She was quite my rock in the worst time of my life. That’s how that transitioned. I was there for seven months in South Africa before they decided that I was stable enough to be able to leave the hospital setting. That was when I came back to Nigeria for a brief amount of time before I made my way to America for the next phase of surgeries.

As I was reading you were sharing in your book, the dreams you were having during this time, and then how much you depended on those visits from your mom, and her coming to see you and read and play music for you. The thing that struck me was, it’s almost emotional to think about it, but you endured so much pain.

You say in your book that love was the reason that you fought to stay present in this world and not to let your body become an empty shell without the essence of Kechi in it. I’m hoping that you will let us learn from the riches you discovered in that time what you learned about healing through that completely redefining experience.

In the most concise way, I learned that healing is multifaceted. There’s no way you can possibly heal in one way. When something happens to us, no matter how big or small, if it’s something traumatic, the healing that has to happen can’t happen in one way. It has to be a whole combination of different sorts of healing.

That was what I experienced because even though the worst of my injury was physical, there was still a lot of emotional, spiritual, mental, and psychological healing that had to happen. Having the right people around me and having them feed me the right things, messages, and behaviors also helps. It added a flavor to the healing that I was going to have aside from the physical because physical is surgeries. That’s a technical thing. That’s something that is objective, and it will be done no matter what. The way that I decided to heal in every other way was what mattered more.

That’s the main thing that I learned throughout my journey and this process of healing and becoming a burn survivor. I also learned in the worst of it, which is when I was mostly numb, and my life was hanging in the balance. I learned a lot about willpower and something about the strength that comes from inside that is necessary to drive you forward in life. You can’t base anything on your identity or any reason why you do the things you do on another human being.

For me, that was a major thing to struggle for because my mom was my person. As far as I was concerned for a long time, she was that representation of God on earth for me. She was who I could see and feel and touch. She was the person standing in the middle and interceding for me. It was so hard to let go of that because she was tangible.

The issue came when she became weak and needed to draw strength from somewhere else for herself. When she’s dry, then I’m dry. I realized that wasn’t sustainable because that meant that we had to get our strength from an infinite source. We had to draw our willpower and the reason why we do things from a source that will never run dry.

It was so hard for me to transition from that source being my mom, her being my reason for everything, for waking up and breathing to God, who is a source that will never run dry and who is the person my mom goes to when she runs dry. That was the biggest struggle for me transitioning and understanding that thing that he put inside us, which is every single one of us have it, that strength, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit.

That was something I had to dig deep down inside, find, hold onto, and use as my reason for living and staying on this earth. It couldn’t be my mom or any other person because these are all human beings like me. We are limited. I’m learning how to grasp onto something more solid and infinite as my reason to stay in this world.

Every other thing, including my mom, will be the extra stuff that God gives to us in life. It was a gradual process. It’s still something I’m struggling with now. That’s the point of this journey of faith. It’s a lifelong one. The point is to get better each day, and if you fall, you get back up. There’s no comparison to anyone else’s journey or walk. That’s what I learned most in that time.

You share about this in your boo. It seemed that from the way you shared it, it was this decision that you made. There were some dreams that you had that pressed you on this decision. Your grandma made a comment. Read the book to know all the details. To your mom, there was this supernatural series of events, and then you decided, “I’ll start talking to God for myself.” What happened when you listened to that, and you did?

It was interesting. I know what I expected. I expected dramatic revelation, something very intense and obvious in the way that God would reach back out to me. What I learned was that everything is a journey. The most important thing is you cannot avoid working for them. The main thing that I learned during that time was that God had done the part that a man and I could not do, which was to save me from a plane crash. That is quite literally a miracle. My life and the life of the other survivor who’s now my friend are miracles.

That is something that no human being could have done. There was a part of this journey that had to come from me, and that was me choosing God and choosing him as my resting place. Learning to pray, delve deep, and understand him was a very new experience for me because I’d never done anything like that before prior to the accident.

I was quickly learning that there was a peace that came with knowledge of him and seeking him out in prayer that I could never get anywhere else. This is coming from someone who was constantly laying down, medicated, and struggling, whether it’s a pain, itching, or discomfort in one way or another. I was always uncomfortable inside my physical body, but there was something that prayer and seeking God, like what it did for me on the inside, translated into the outside as well. That peace, knowledge, assurance of his protection, and the fact that he’s listening to you and he’s with you on this journey of life is something that gave me peace on the inside and translated into the outside as well.

Oftentimes, I would find myself praying and waking up, and it was the next morning. This is from someone who had the worst insomnia before the accident, and it was now so much worse after. Sleep was something that was always beyond my reach. It was always something I had to struggle so hard to do without medication, but once I introduced prayer and a genuine search for understanding who this God was and those elements into my life, there was a definite change or shift in my inside, the inner turmoil that I was going through.

Once that inside was becoming clearer and more stable, it allowed me to become more stable on the outside as well. It was an inside-out healing and learning process and one that you know is very addicting because when you don’t have that peace and that feeling, you crave it. You want to do anything you can to have it back because it’s what sustains you.

Especially after I left the hospital and facing the world again, I needed that peace and assurance to live my life as normally as possible. That’s what allowed me to face different difficulties in this world with confidence because I knew that I wasn’t doing it alone. That was something that I had from that moment in South Africa up until now.

In every phase of my life, I learned that it’s so much easier when God is involved. I am grateful that I was able to learn that in that moment, where everything was in a vacuum when I was healing and separate from the world. It prepared me for the world that I would have to come back into if I wanted us to continue to live a normal life.

You share this story of a doctor, a psychologist. The emotional healing that you had experienced in such a short amount of time by choosing and seeking the Lord and pushing past the pain in the strength God gave you. He was just, “It’s too soon. Kechi can’t be this far along in her healing process. She’s in denial.”

I love how you shared it in your book. You were like, “This is where I’m at. This is what God has done, and I’m not going to choose to dwell in that darkness.” Is there anything you want to share for those with us who maybe they’re in a dark spot now in their lives and they’ve experienced trauma and have emotional and physical scars? What would you want to share with them about choosing healing and not staying in the dark?

From personal experience, I know how hard and difficult choice it is to make and one that is not very believable when you’ve done it or on the path to doing it because I did struggle with trying to convince my psychologist that I was in that place. What he didn’t understand was what he wasn’t there for. He didn’t see the things happening after hours or behind the scenes, when my family was there ministering, my mom was there, people were around me feeding life into me and showing me that there is life to look forward to even after this horrible traumatic situation.

If he had been there and seen that process, he would know that it was not as quick and as easy as I’m making it seem. There was a long process of acceptance and choices that I had to make to get to that place. It came down to being a matter of, “How do you want this situation to inform the rest of your life?” At the end of the day, you have to make that choice.

When things happen to you, oftentimes, they are not controllable. We live in a flawed world. Bad things are going to happen to you, whether you’re a good or a bad person, Christian or not, it’s how the world is, but we do have power over how we react to those things. My mom was the one who taught me that. When I thought about it, I realized that I only thought about my future. I thought about 10, 20, 30 years from that moment, “How would I allow what had happened to me to influence 30 or 40-year-old Kechi?”

I felt like I had to make certain decisions at that moment that would have a ripple effect on the rest of my life and how I approach life, “Did I want to be a victim all my life essentially? Did I want what happens to influence me in such a way that it’s all I’m at or about and the only thing that people know, see or understand when they see me and encounter me? What life did I want to leave live after this traumatic situation? I’m not going to be in the hospital forever. When I get back out there into the world, how do I want it to be?”

I thought about that and all the people who passed away. I thought about my friends, their parents, and loved ones who were praying for me, constantly calling and interceding for me, who saw my life as one good thing that came out of this. The feeling was, “At least one person out of all those kids survived this.” We’re so happy one person survived this. I felt like, “This life can’t be lived in this feeling of being a victim. I can’t live this life that has been saved against so many odds in such a lackluster way.”

I felt like it would be so insulting to everything that had happened and all the people who passed away. I wanted my life to represent something good for them. For no one else, for those kids, my friends, and then for their parents who were so hopeful for my life, I wanted my life to mean something for them as well.

It was a choice. Instead of allowing the situation to stunt my growth, to keep me crippled in this depression and darkness, I want it to make me stronger. I want it to be my reason for continuing, staying resilient, and pressing on because I made it through something that many were not fortunate to make out of. Therefore, that has to count for something.

It didn’t mean that I felt like I had to do something excellent with my life or I had to change the world in a dramatic way because I survived a plane crash. It was more like taking each day at a time, facing every day wholeheartedly, being full, authentic, genuinely Kechi, and presenting that Kechi to the world as honestly as possible, and doing everything that I ended up doing as excellently as possible, whether it’s working out, going to school, getting good grades, waking up in the morning, taking a shower, and starting your day feeling refreshed, or giving a speech at some fancy event.

It didn’t matter what level of activity we were talking about here. What matters is how you approach that activity, whether big or small. That was a choice that I made at that moment not to allow my grief to cripple me but allow it to propel me forward and strengthen me the way that God was strengthening me.

Once I made that decision, a whole new perspective opened from me where everything I was doing was for a purpose. I was doing it for a reason. Me living my life well became something necessary to do in order to fulfill that purpose that I felt God had given me, which was to represent the lives of those that were lost and show them that I appreciate the second chance at living that I’d been given. This isn’t self-imposed pressure, and it wasn’t even pressured. It was a basic responsibility. That’s what it evolved into.

At first, it was what I needed to do to be able to move out of that depression of what had happened and all the lives that were lost. It evolved from that into my responsibility in life or for my life on how to live it. There were people who I had now seen who were inspired by me being myself. I’m not doing anything extra and not forcing anything. If for nothing else, for people to see that it is possible to keep yourself and live a normal life after trauma.

That’s what I would like people who are going through anything difficult, painful, and traumatic to understand that it is okay to grieve, and it’s necessary to grieve, be sad, and cry when bad things happen because that’s a human reaction. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone has different levels and stages to how they treat grief and how long. There’s no time limit. There’s no one way. It’s not like, in five months, you should be okay. There’s nothing like that. We’re all different people how long those moments last for us.

We all get to a point where we know that it’s time to make a choice to either stay in that dark place or decide to use what has happened to you to strengthen you and give you the purpose and reason to move forward. Honestly, the people that I encounter in this life that are the strongest and most resilient are the ones who have decided to do exactly that. To not allow their trauma to define them and keep them in one place forever, but have decided to use it in a way that was not just strengthened them but strengthened others.

Those are the most resilient and incredible people I’ve met, and I would like to be that person. I hope that helps. That’s was my angle. That was something I couldn’t quite explain to my psychiatrist. It was hard to explain that because I was coming from a place that wasn’t science. You can quantify or measure it. It wasn’t very understandable to him.

It felt like I was running around in circles and avoiding things. That was how I dealt with this. I didn’t have these epiphanies on my own. I had so much help from so many people. I strongly believe that it is how they treated me and the things they taught me that even allowed me to get to a place where I could think like that. It matters who you have around you.

In what you shared, it’s choosing to see the gifts, grieve in a way that is healing, not ignoring the grief, looking at straight in the face with Jesus, and in the midst of it, seeing the gift in it, and choosing gratitude, even when it’s hard. It’s choosing to unwrap the gift and choosing to listen to God. There’s so much in what you shared. I love what you said about science can’t explain it. Thank you for sharing that. One of the gifts that you chose was music. Will you share a little bit about this gift of music that you were given?

Music is so interesting in the way that it became such an integral or irreplaceable part of my life. Before I opened my eyes from the coma, I was hearing songs that my mom would play by my bedside. These were new songs I didn’t know and recognize. I woke up knowing those songs, even though I’d never heard them before the accident. Music was something that was there for me even before I opened my eyes. It was something that I could enjoy no matter what state of mind or body I was in, in pain, no pain, itching, and no itching. I didn’t have to be well and walking around.

At this time, I was mostly horizontal. I was lying in bed for months on end, but the music was there regardless of what state I was in. The most incredible thing was the fact that my voice underwent a change that no one could explain. It sounded different from before the plane crash. No one understands why. There was nothing to prove that this was true, except for the people around me who knew how I sounded before. My mom knew that something had changed and shifted.

The music then became this thing that I could not only enjoy but sing along to my favorite songs with more confidence. I sang anyway. Now, I felt like I could sing with more confidence that I sounded good. It was so nice to have this good thing. It didn’t seem like a lot, but in a sea of negatives, having that was so important to me because it was one good thing that weirdly came out of this, so I ran with it. It became such a big part of my healing and then quite literally part of my healing when I moved to America became a patient at Shriners Children’s in Texas, which is a burns hospital in Galveston.

When I got there, it was physical therapy, surgeries, the usual. They realized that I love to sing, so they made music part of my therapy as well. That was the right move because music heals parts of me that nothing could reach physically. I could have all the surgery in the world, but there were some parts of me on the inside that like needed soothing, and that’s what music did. It’s soothing me in the hardest times and gave me joy in normal life.

I had my first ever concert in Shriners Children’s in Texas. It was for the inpatients, the kids that were in the hospital. It was so fun and very scary, but giving my first taste of what it feels like to perform for others, the people that weren’t my family. I had my first taste of performing for strangers. It was very interesting, the feeling. It was scary but also exciting. Even then, I still didn’t think that it was something I would do professionally. I loved singing, and it was fun, but I didn’t ever see myself doing it as a career, not because I didn’t feel my voice was anything good.

It was good, but not that good, but then also because I didn’t exactly see people that look like me on TV, doing music videos or performing on stage. It made me think, “There’s no market for a person that looked like I did.” My injuries were still fresh. As time goes by, things get better. I’m at my best physically now, but it was still a lot of scar tissue. It was still a lot of pulled and contracting skin. My face was barely visible. I was pretty much one giant scar tissue on my face. I’m even less confident then that if I decided I wanted to sing and go the industry, anything would happen.

It was something that I decided to make a hobby and went through life more focused on academia. I finished high school here in America. I went to college on a scholarship, graduated, worked for a little bit in nonprofit, and then came back for my MBA. That was when the big thing happened with music. Up until that moment, the highest thing I had done with my voice was singing in my worship team at church. To me, that was already such a huge step outside my comfort zone because I was extremely nervous when it came to my voice and how people would receive it.

I know my family spent all their time telling me I sound good. I did think I sounded good to an extent, but it’s different when it’s not your family. Putting yourself out there was a scary concept to me. My friend signed me up for America’s Got Talent without telling me. That’s how that happened. I would never have put myself there. She kicked me out there.

I was never going to take that step. I would never have done it because I didn’t think I was good enough. She took matters into her own hands and felt like, “If you’re not going to do it, I’m going to do it, and then we’ll see what happens.” She effectively changed my life. God used her in the biggest way to change my life trajectory because not only did America’s Got Talent takeoff from the first episode, the first time when I performed on the audition, I found myself all the way at the end to the finale. Throughout that journey, I did not see anything that happened to come.

Every moment was a surprise and a pleasure. I was so filled with gratitude. Each time I passed every stage, I was like, “God, are we still in this? Is this for real what you want me to do? I’m so confused. I’ve been in school all my life. I’ve been trying to get into Corporate America. Now, I’m on a show, and it’s moving forward. I’m so confused, but I’m also very excited. Let’s see where this goes.” Every time I passed another stage, I was like, “God, what is going on? What are you trying to tell me? What is this?” I could never have imagined what he had planned for me, but I trusted that since I didn’t even put myself in this situation. He used someone else to put me here, so he wanted me here.

That’s what I always believed because I involve him in every part of my life. If something happens, how it happens, then it was ordained. It is what he wanted because all I ever want is for his will to play out in my life. That’s the best way to get the best results. It’s the safest thing to do. In fact, it’s rarely the way I expect it to go, but I always end up exactly where I feel he wants me to be. I used that knowledge to trust that this was also what was happening with America’s Got Talent.

More Than My Scars: The Power of Perseverance, Unrelenting Faith, And Deciding What Defines You

After the show, my life took off in a whole different way. I grew this platform across different social media, where I had people who were willing to follow and support me and watch me do life in any way that I wanted. It’s been amazing to have all these people who say that they follow me because they’re inspired by my story and voice. I feel like that is where God has put me where he wants me to be, in a place where I’m able to use my story.

Starting all the way from that moment in South Africa, in that bed where I decided that I wanted what had happened to me to move me forward and give me strength and live life the way that God wants me to. I come back to the present, where I am in a place where I can build a brand surrounding that concept of moving forward of life after trauma, encouraging people not just to survive what happened to them but thrive even after it.

I’m using my life or myself as a real example of what I’m saying. It’s more effective when people hear these things from people who’ve been through it. I want to be one of those people who can use her life to show others that there is so much life and joy to find on the other side of that dark place. That’s what America’s Got Talent did for me. That’s what my music has done for me.

I’ve been able to release original music since then. I’ve performed in so many different concerts with so many different, incredible people. There are so much more to come. I have an original album that’s going to be coming out soon. I can’t wait to share my voice and sound with people and see how they respond to them. I’m grateful that people are willing to hear me sing because that’s something I do anyway in my house by myself.

The fact that people are willing to find me places to hear me do it, do something that I love and I’m passionate about, I’m so humbled by that fact because it’s not everyone that gets to do what they love and make money from it. Not everyone gets to turn their passion into an actual career. I don’t know how long I can do this, along with speaking, which is also a big thing for me. I don’t know if it’s pretty clear or not, but I like to talk. I’m grateful for the chance to do these things and have them mean something.

The last thing you said, “The chance to do these things,” these amazing things. I’m thinking about watching you on America’s Got Talent, one of my very favorite shows. What I’m thinking to myself as I’m watching you on stage is that you are so confident and calm.

People say that all the time. I was a nervous wreck. On the inside, I’m glad I appeared calm because my heart was pounding. It was a mess inside. I was praying throughout. Up until the moment I opened my mouth to sing, I was like, “God, please do not let me embarrass myself on here. I will blame you because you’re supposed to be here with me.” If anything goes wrong, I’m going to come, and I’ll be like, “Why did you let that happen? I don’t understand. Nobody put me there. If you were going to let this happen.” It was going on stage with him and praying for things to go how he wanted them to go. It was scary, but I did a good job of making it seem I was containing myself and being relaxed. It was hard.

The thing that’s always stood out to me too is in music, the essence of who somebody is, the truth of who they are, and the message they have are what draws people to their music. I’m excited for what’s next in your music career and to listen to your music.

This is an excerpt about you looking in the mirror for the first time after the crash, “My whole face looked like one huge scar. Therefore, to hide the scar would be to hide my entire face, and I wasn’t going to do that. In a way, reality had forced me to choose between two extremes. I could either hide totally from the world or show myself totally to the world. I was forced to either completely accept myself or completely reject myself.”

“The plane crash has altered my face and body, but it did not take the essence of who I was. God gave me the ability to see the part of me that went beyond my physical appearance, the part of me that mattered most. He had shown me Kechi through his eyes, and she was beautiful. This was the very moment that birth a phrase that would become my life motto. My scars do not define me. There was much more to my identity than that. I am more than my scars. No one, but God showed me that.” You’re so beautiful and luminescent. You just shine. I’m excited for more people to meet you. One last question for you. If you could give your younger self some words of encouragement or wisdom, how old would she be, and what would you say to her?

She would probably be a teenager at the peak of high school, so maybe 14, 15, 16, that area. I would tell her, “If you’ve come this far, you can go further.” I would like her to think of those words as a reminder of the fact that she is an example. Her life is proof of the fact that you can overcome obstacles and still move on and have good experiences in life. When bad things happen, they don’t have to cripple you. A lot of times, those mountains seem so big when they’re happening, but the fact that you are here right now means that you’ve overcome numerous mountains.

I would like her to remember that if she’s already come this far, that’s proof that she can keep going, and she can go further. Not just throw her hands up in the air and give up, but to understand the history of her own life and experiences has shown that human beings are so resilient. I feel like we do not give ourselves enough credit for how resilient we are. We’re so quick to forget. When things are bad, we’re dwelling in that tough place. Once we find a way out of that place, maybe we don’t come out of that dark place the way expects to, but we tend to forget when things are finally normal and good, how bad things we perceive them at the time.

When another bad thing happens, we’re exactly the same way all over again, sad and distraught, forgetting that we’ve overcome something even tougher in the past. I would like her to know that this was coming from 32-year-old Kechi showing her, “You’ve come this far. I promise you are resilient enough to go even further. I am proof of that. We are proof of that. Do not ever give up and stop pressing on because you can go further than you think you can.” I’ll tell her that.

It’s been so good to be with you. Thank you so much for everything that you shared, for the love, and the sharing with us from the depths of your experience. I know there are so many who are going to hear your words, and it’s going to change their lives and the same thing with your book. I couldn’t put it down, and I never say that about a book. If you’re here to connect with Kechi and get a copy of her book More Than My Scars, visit our website at WonderfullyMade.org. Please share this episode with your friends so they can be encouraged by Kechi. Thank you again. To know you is to love you.

Thank you so much, Christie. This has been such a pleasure. God bless you.

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About Kechi Okwuchi

Kechi Okwuchi is a Nigerian American recording artist and motivational speaker. One of two survivors in the Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 crash on December 10, 2005, she was a finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2017 and has put out her own original music since her appearance on the hit TV show. As a burn survivor advocate, she became a national patient ambassador for Shriners Children’s Texas in Galveston in 2017. She has since been active in events organized by WE Movement, a global youth empowerment organization, speaking and singing to thousands of students at WE Day events all over the country, the most notable being WE Day UN, which took place in New York in September 2019. As a bullying prevention advocate, she has teamed up with the organization Be Strong Global, as well as Instagram and Teen Vogue, to speak out against bullying. She hopes to use her story and her musical talents to ignite hope. Okwuchi lives in Pearland, Texas.