Ntandoyenkosi Haanyama

Mack ‘16

What are you currently doing professionally?
I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree at McGill University and volunteering with a non-profit organization called Vent Over Tea - a free service that provides confidential, in-person active listening to all members of the community to promote mental wellness and connection. Prior to the pandemic, one was able to book a “vent session” on our website and then meet with one of our active listeners in a local Montreal café. Now we offer our services virtually so they’re available globally to anyone and everyone.
What achievement(s) are you most proud of?
I am very proud of how successful my pet sitting business has been. I started it when I was in my 2nd year of university and it was a fun way to earn money while spending time with animals. I have used my business as a way to cope with my mental health while getting some exercise in. I’m also very proud of the work that I have done and continue to do with Vent Over Tea. I’m the go-to person for university students looking to participate, and I streamline all the university events with Vent Over Tea.
How do you define success?
Success for me is knowing I have done the best I can with what I have at the end of each day.
What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?
Knowing that the work I’m doing is making a difference in people’s lives. It took me a while to realize just how important my mental health is and that it’s ok to not feel okay all the time.
What was the last new thing you tried?
Learning a new language - I’m now a beginner in Spanish! I didn’t realize how difficult it would be but it was worth it.
Specific skill(s) you developed at Brentwood that you use to this day?
Resilience, tenacity, self-confidence, commitment!
Favourite Brentwood Teacher(s):
My houseparent Ms. Cheung and my pottery teacher Mrs. Elmes
Mama Cheung helped me adjust to boarding school and she really made Mack House feel like a second home. Mrs Elmes is one of my favourite teachers because she taught me the importance of being kind and being patient. Learning pottery was hard and it took time and effort for me to get better at it. I would have given up if it wasn’t for Mrs Elmes. She believed in my abilities and helped me realize that I should believe in myself too..
Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?
“You can’t pour from an empty cup”
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would change the fact that people are generally scared of difference. I wish our differences brought us together more than tore us apart.
What’s next for you?
Hoping to do more work in mental health and wellness once I have graduated. This is only the beginning of what I know will be a very successful future.
One piece of advice for current Brentwood students?
Appreciate the mental health days at Brentwood because they are essential. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical and emotional health. It’s difficult to remember that self-care matters because we live in a world that values productivity over happiness.

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