I got to know Ifeoluwa from LinkedIn, through a mutual friend called Temitope Jekayinoluwa. I wanted to learn more about her skills in Haematology, Enzymes Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay (ELISA), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). Here is her STEM story;
Hi Ifeoluwa, thank you for accepting to tell your story through Words That Count. We welcome you to this episode.
Hi Winnie, thank you for considering me. I am glad to provide all information necessary for me to contribute to this project.
Kindly give us a brief introduction about yourself
My name is Ifeoluwa Peace Oladapo from Nigeria. I currently work as a Research Scientist at EHA Clinics.
How did you join the world of Health Research?
Growing up, I had always wanted to be a medical doctor like every other child. I studied hard to make a complete A in my West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and above 300 in my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) but I didn’t meet up to that, even though I had a fairly good result. This deprived me of being admitted into medical school. I always knew that I wasn’t interested in staying at home after secondary school so the goal was to get admitted into a university the same year I finished secondary school.
After the whole medical school admission was lost I had to change to a department in the biological sciences (which turned out to be a blessing after all). I had a lot of discrepancies about the course and I made up my mind to re-sit for UTME just to study medicine. With the help of supporting family and mentors, I was advised to finish the degree I had already started and just do a direct entry to study medicine. The whole story changed when I was in 300 level, after attending classes from this one particular lecturer. Suddenly I had a change in orientation and I fell in love with parasitology and I knew I needed more.
Because of my sudden love for parasitology, I decided to do more personal reading about it during my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). This acquainted me with a lot of knowledge about parasites, their relationship with man, and their life cycle. That’s where the whole quest for knowledge started from. After completing NYSC, I decided to explore the wok industry for one year after which I proceeded for a Masters’ Degree. My inquisitiveness in wanting to know aroused my love for research; I finally found my passion, embraced it wholeheartedly and worked consistently towards it.
As a master’s student, I researched the prevalence of toxoplasmosis among mentally ill patients. In 2020, the whole world was hit with a new virus that made all countries go into lock-down. I just couldn’t imagine sitting at home without doing anything so I and a group of friends researched the new virus and wrote articles that were eventually published. Fast-forward to the end of my master’s degree in parasitology; I graduated with a distinction (6.2/7.0) making the top 0.5% of my class.
Wow! These are new terms I am hearing about! Does this mean I can use my biology in other STEM careers other than medicine?
Yes, that’s very true. There are many career paths you can follow after studying biology.
Please tell us about some challenges you have faced along the way.
I am Ifeoluwa and I am Indeed a product of God’s love. There were lots of hurdles I crossed along the way. There were times when I had to sleep on the laboratory table just to carry out research when I was still a student! Other hard days were when I felt like everything wasn’t working out in my favor. To that, add the many disappointments! But I am grateful for having supportive parents (The Oladapo’s and The Adegunle’s) who are always ready to support me in whichever way they can. I have also been blessed with supportive academic mentors (Dr. Awobode and Prof. Adeogun) who are always there to guide me through the process.
What inspires you to not give up?
I do a lot of reading in my spare time which opened my eyes to the beautiful things researchers are doing – especially the women in science. This alone is an inspiration and a reminder that I can not afford to not work hard and I can do it.
Tell us about your prestigious moments along this journey
In total, I have published about 4 academic articles, with one currently being worked on. I was awarded three awards of excellence during my bachelor’s degree by a visiting lecturer.
What do you enjoy doing during your free time?
Outside work, I am an introverted person, who enjoys her own company (although I am gradually trying to break out of this, haha). I also listen to music, read and sleep.
What is your favourite quote?
“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” ~ Nelson Mandela
How would you encourage a young girl who wants to join STEM?
As a young girl/ lady in STEM, my word for you is; “don’t be discouraged when it feels like what you’re doing isn’t noticeable and adding up. Just keep doing it little by little until it becomes mighty or massive. ‘You can do’ is the spirit”.
Thank you so much Ifeoluwa for being very punctual about this. I am honoured to have you in this corner. Thank you for what you are doing in this world; we need health researchers to survive all health uncertainties.