Pepper hawker earns PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Abuja, June 4, 2018, (AltAfrika) When there is will, there is a way! This is a story of a young Nigerian lady, Adeola Olubamiji, whose story is that of the proverbial grass-to-grace has not only done herself proud by earning a PhD in Biomedical Engineering, her story is an encouragement that successful people maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them.
Her tribute on her graduation day:
As the fifth child of five, I always had to wait for my turn. I was the last, a girl child and raised by a mother who is a farmer and a father who has little. I hawked pepper on the streets of Ibadan as early as age 10 to help my mum. Went to public primary and secondary schools in Ibadan. Attended OOU and studied Physics.
Because I had a 2.1, it opened the door for me to proceed to Finland for a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering. During this Master’s degree, I worked part-time as a cleaner and did this after my Master’s as well.
Out of determination, I applied to over 100 schools for my PhD and finally got a full three-year scholarship (later extended to four years) at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering.
While in that PhD programme, I worked part-time as a makeup artist, teaching assistant, braided hair and fixed weaves to make extra money.
Today, I walked the stage as the first black person to bag a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada!
I walked this stage for you Mama Africa and for my Motherland Nigeria! I walked the stage for all of you Black women disrespected and looked down on!
I walked for all of you from my ghetto hood, Mokola, Ibadan. I walked for all OSU students and ex-students that got that look from people who think we are not brilliant! I walked for all of you Africans in Finland wondering what is next for you!!
Specially, I walked for you my parents, siblings and extended family in fulfillment of your dreams!
Specially, I walked the stage for you my late sister Omoleye Olubamiji; and my late mentor Ayodele Olatunbosun.
Today, I walked for my future husband and my unborn children who patiently waited for me to fulfil my dreams so that he can have a wife he will be proud of and they can have a role model to look up to.
I walked for all immigrants and all young adults who strived everyday chasing their dreams!
I walked in celebration of the unfailing love of my first and one truly true love, Jesus Christ, (in you I walk, in you I live, and in you I have had and will continue to have my being)!
Be bold, be innovative, be different, be you, be everything you want to be; but remember to put God first!
Let no man, upbringing, money, circumstance, colourism, past mistakes, institution, company, partner, background, let nothing tell you ‘you can’t do it.’
Adeola Deborah Olubamiji was born in Ibadan to the family of Mr. & Mrs. Isaac & Juliana Olubamiji. She attended Alafia Public Primary School and St. Gabriel’s Secondary Commercial School in Mokola, Ibadan, Nigeria. Despite her humble beginning as a child hawker, she surmounted all odds to become the senior prefect girl of her secondary school. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Physics (with Electronics) from Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria in 2008 and a Masters of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Tampere University of Technology, Tampere, Finland in 2011. In June 2017, Adeola received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada and made history as the first black person to have received this PhD from the university. Dr. Adeola is currently the Lead Metallurgist / Material Engineer at Burloak Technologies (The Advanced Additive Manufacturing Division of Samuel Sons & Co) in Ontario, Canada.
Looking at my parent’s life, they both worked hard to care for us but we didn’t have any form of luxury. So, I learned quickly as a child that “to earn more, you must learn more.” In addition, the daily reminder was on the wall of our living room and it was clear that I needed to be “EDUCATED” to make valuable contribution to a knowledge-based society, to earn respect and to earn more money than my parents. As such, I promised myself to strive to know more critical facts, gather more information than the average person and be the best and nothing but the best.
Dr. Adeola is a consultant and the founder of 3D-Tech Centrix, Ontario, Canada: A consulting firm specializing in development of 3D-printing technology and related manufacturing solutions for use in different industries. In July 2017, Dr. Adeola was chosen and celebrated as one the top 5 of 150 black women making Canada better for her contributions in Science and Technology by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She was also recently presented a prestigious award as the Woman of Outstanding Achievement in Education by the Nigerian-Canadian Community in a ceremony held in Toronto, Canada. Dr. Adeola’s passion for community building through volunteering is limitless and unquantifiable. Dr. Adeola is an “ardent” STEM advocate and she has continued to serve as a positive role model to the inner-city black youths in her Canadian community and around the world. From her savings, Dr. Adeola organizes regular STEM events and industrial tours for black youths in Ontario’s black communities to help youths discover what engineers do, and to expose them to STEM career opportunities available to them.
In recent times, the society and social media has continued to showcase role models who make education look ‘old school’, who make science look too hard, abstract and for the exceptional ones. Africa as a continent needs to start projecting scientists are role models and investing in productive education and technology aside entertainment, fashion, and cosmetics.
As a STEM advocate, I’m willing to help develop hands-on programs to help motivate these students to learn and love Sciences and get exposure to Technology in a fun way. Since kids learn by doing, these programs will provide an avenue for them to connect the theoretical science taught in schools with practical science that results from these theories.
In order to conquer the extreme dependency of Nigeria and Nigerians on China and the West for metal and plastic goods, Nigeria must invest in digitized manufacturing now. The combination of “3D-printing technology” and some other manufacturing techniques will allow achievement of faster product development and consequently enable manufacturing of polymeric and metallic products at reasonable costs. This will also foster raising of young entrepreneurs and enable creation of more jobs for our engineering graduates who are forced to work in the banking sector, wait for years to secure a position in the energy sector, or move abroad to seek greener pastures.
As a scientist who has a large network of professionals, has explored both plastics and metal 3D-printing and tried several conventional manufacturing techniques, my team is capable and able to help with the set-up of a “Manufacturing Hub for Africa” in Nigeria if given a chance. 3D-printing technology is rapidly growing across multiple industries and applications: medical applications (e.g. surgical implants, prosthesis, dental, and tissue-engineered tissues and organs), aerospace applications (OEMs for airplanes and fighter jets), automotive applications (OEMs for car engines), energy industries (customized valves, heat exchangers), tooling for plastics processing, and manufacturing of customized consumer plastic products and decorations.
I am a Woman of Rubies
Dear woman, with the advent of technology, the world is at your fingertip. Do not wait to be served information on a platter of gold as your power lies in how much information you acquire. Dear woman, who are you and why are you here? My go to quote is “if you don’t stand for something, you will stand for everything or anything, and when you stand for everything or anything, you stand for nothing”. My dear women, let’s altogether renew our minds, be our own saviours, our own rescue and love ourselves enough. Finally, I beseech you to dare to be limitless, dare to start that business, dare to launch that company, dare to channel that cause, dare to be different, dare to study science and dare to be innovative.