A few days ago my boss asked me to accompany her to a meeting where I eventually met a young promising woman from Nigeria who lives in Canada and is making Nigeria proud. The story was that this lady was already doing a lot to project Africa and empower girls, women and the youth. Now that’s the kind of story I love to hear and therefore I was delighted to go meet this inspiring lady. But I actually met her via a SKYPE conversation … hehehe. I tell you our conversation with her blew me away and left me feeling good about my heritage as a Nigerian woman. She is the kind of role model young people need to inspire and motivate them to go on to achieve their dreams and goals.
This post shares a bit of our conversation with Dr. Adeola Olubamiji the first black person to obtain a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from University of Saskatchewan . She speaks about herself and an ongoing project to empower young people in Ibadan in Tie-Dye Engineering. Dr. Adeola’s story went viral on the social media after she shared her story about how she rose from a humble background to become the scientist that she now is. Adeola went on to start STEMHUB FOUNDATION to inspire young people to pursue science and discover the possibilities therein. Bolatito Joseph- BJJ (Deputy Director Programmes- Radio Nigeria) conducted the interview.
BJJ: Tell us about yourself, a little bit about your background and why you are doing this project
DR. Adeola: Recently about a year ago I happen to be the first African to obtain a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan here in Canada. My upbringing, I was raised by two people with no formal education; from hawking pepper on the streets of Mokola, Ibadan to becoming a child farmer; having to help my mum on the farm and how all of this happened to me; then because of my love for science made me who I am today. I went ahead and posted my story on Facebook the day I convocated. That story went viral and it was in the news in Nigeria and the media basically. So I grew lots of followership on social media and as such I couldn’t hide anymore as a scientist who just wanted to live my life for myself. I realize that my life wasn’t mine anymore; a lot of people wanted to be a part of it; a lot of people were looking for a role model and some people were looking for mentors for themselves or for their children. So that’s how STEMHUB Foundation started.
Mokola, where the empowerment training on Tie & Dye engineering for young people is taking place in the neighborhood where I grew up. It is in this neighborhood that I hawked pepper. So I looked at my neighborhood and I found out that it is still the same. We still have people involved in vices and using prostitution as the only means of livelihood for them. So I was looking out there to see – what Is it I can help people acquire that they can use as a means to fend for themselves instead of having to do something shady or having to sell their body.
This Tie and Dye program is not the only program my foundation has sponsored. For the celebration of Women in the month of March 2018, I partnered with the Female Designers Movement in Lagos to sponsor design engineering for 150 women. We taught them graphic design making of posters; a user design for websites.
Right now after my Ph.D., I got a job and currently work as a lead material engineer in a company that basically manufacture Pollan, parts of engines of aircraft, fighter jets and all of that here in Canada. I am very passionate about anything engineering, 3D-printing which is my area and right now I focus on aerospace.
BJJ: Great! Ok can we talk about the many awards you’ve won
Dr. Adeola: Ok one thing I always tell people is, it is a lot difficult to talk about when it comes to hyping myself; I am not good at it.
Dr. Adeola: I believe something, “If your mission and vision in life are about you, you won’t go really far.
Dr. Adeola: But if your vision and your mission are about the people you will go really, really far. And often times those types of vision and mission are bigger than you and require a lot of resilient for it to happen. After my story broke out on the internet, the “Media Broadcast Corporation” which is our own “Radio Nigeria” here in Canada recognized me as one of the 150 black women making Canada better for the celebration of Canada at 150years last year. Also last year the Canadian Nigerian Association honored me as “The Woman of Outstanding Achievements in Education”, July 2017. Fortunately, Oni of Ife and some other dignitaries from Nigeria attended that event.
“If your mission and vision in life are about you, you won’t go really far. But if your vision and your mission are about the people you will go really, really far.
In my absence the Ondo state government honored me as 2018 female role model of young girls in the state. I have also been nominated by the Canadian Business Treat; these are a group of women whose passion centers on finding entrepreneurs and young Canadian women and honoring them. I have been nominated as one of the people that will receive an award this year, 2018.
There is been a couple of awards here and there but to me, it is not about the awards. It is about what I can do for people. If it wins an award, yes I am happy but I would gladly celebrate the people and the progress we are making in the lives of the people than how many accolades I get or how many awards people have given me. This dream and vision are not about me, it’s about the people.
BJJ: You have done so well for yourself and I want to tell you that Nigeria is proud of you. Now, are you thinking of coming back home?
Dr. Adeola: The Industry that I work in right now focus on 3D-printing different on aerospace material. During my Ph.D. I was fortunate to use this same 3D-printing, to manufacture. So 3D-Printing is an area growing drastically around the world; Nigeria has not embraced the idea yet. If there is an opportunity to come and be a part of trading digital manufacturing space for Africa so that we can attract automotive companies to come and open their brands in Nigeria, I will definitely love to be a part of such change. Until that moment when this type of opportunity happens I think I will stay here in Canada to grow my knowledge and without money, I wouldn’t be able to help people in Nigeria.
Dr. Adeola: So I will stay here to be able to make some money and to be able to do what I do right now (Laughing). But if you ask me where is your heart? My heart is in Nigeria. I believe that positive role models are very, very rare to find in our society. And when we have such positive role models, often times they do not have the right platform to be projected so our young girls can see them. I feel that if I were to be present in Nigeria I will achieve way more; I will inspire and motivate way more. And I could be a part of those people who can help drive success among women and young people in Nigeria. Until that time when I get the opportunity, I have to be here.
But the good news is that I will be coming home to Nigeria in August for two weeks to receive an award. I will do all I can to inspire; to encourage and be a part of the people; to let them see what is possible if you study science, believe in God and if you work hard and are resilient, you can go really far in life.
BJJ: Thank you very much for speaking with us. I really enjoyed this conversation. God bless, bye
Dr. Adeola: Thank you too Bye
I look forward to following Dr. Adeola’s journey and contributions to society and sharing more of her story and the lives she is touching. In another post, I will share photos and stories of young people I met at the Tie & Dye Training which held in Ibadan for young people. It was sponsored by STEMHUB Foundation.
Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
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