Franciscs and I are part of the AIMS Alumni family, but I personally got to know her through LinkedIn. Her passion for computational techniques and algorithms inspired me to know more about her story. Here is our interview about her STEM journey:
Hi Francisca, I am happy to welcome you here today. Thank you for joining us.
Hi Winnie, thanks for inviting me. You are doing amazing work here! I struggled myself in making a decision to study Mathematics as a secondary school leaver. It is nice to be a part of this.
Kindly introduce yourself please
My name is Francisca Olajumoke Olajide, from Oyo state, Nigeria. I work with the Finance Operations team at the MasterCard Foundation as an intern.
Briefly tell us about your journey from childhood to where you are now
I was an early school starter and my parents were quick to notice my love for education and schooling at such a tender age. I had a strong affinity toward anything Mathematics, Aptitude, and Analytical Reasoning. This was highly demonstrated in my overall grades as I mostly led my class. I had many opportunities to represent my primary school (Greater Love Model School, Iseyin, Oyo state) at inter-school quiz competitions and extra-curricular activities; and this significantly had a boost on my confidence level. I strongly believed that anything can be done once I put my mind to it. I would always disturb my elder brother with my assignments and refuse to eat until they are fully done.
My secondary school (Emmanuel Alayande College of Education Model High School, Oyo state) education began on that note as well with diligence. After my first year, I discovered that the competition was tougher than when I was in primary school, many students were doing as equally amazing. While the aim was not to outdo anyone, I was determined to give my best. I lived in the boarding house and it was during this time that I learned to cope with challenges especially financially. My then school principal and housemaster were very instrumental in that regard. My parents strove to keep me and my siblings in school regardless. I was doing well in school and was one of the top students in my set.
My struggle on what to choose and pursue as a course of study began in my final year. I had always fantasized about being a Medical Doctor majorly for prestige and brilliance. So, I applied for Medicine and Surgery and wrote my UTME (Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) and Post-UTME. For the first school I chose, I didn’t meet up with the cut-off score, but I did for the second school. The year however ended without an admission for me, meaning that I had to reapply the following year. My elder brother traveled home from school then, and sat me down to some deep reflective moments. “What do you want to do?” he asked. I knew I loved Mathematics, but I had a limited sight of what Mathematics could offer me. He encouraged me to go for what I was passionate about, not what people think I should go for. The process was a bit tough for me, I met one of my primary school teachers and she sighed when I told her I was applying for Mathematics. I could guess that she was disappointed I chose to settle for that.
My admission came through that year, and I began a five-year journey in the field of Pure and Applied Mathematics, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, Oyo state. Passion kept me loving what I was learning, and I so much enjoy teaching others too. Without resolve on what I aimed to graduate with, I had a first-class result for 10 semesters and graduated cum laude with a CGPA of 4.87/5.0. My major challenge back then was finances, but God saw me through at every point. I also got timely financial help from my Faculty through my Advisor, Professor S.O. Adewale, and the Fasoro Timothy Adewale Trust Fund.
As I was rounding up the final requirements for my B.Tech degree, I got an email from the Academic Director, Professor Marco Garuti, AIMS-Cameroon (African Institute for Mathematical Sciences) that I had been offered a scholarship to study. The time of resumption however was not in my favor then, but I kept following it up. And to my greatest advantage, resumption was postponed for certain reasons and I was able to travel for my master’s degree. So, I had to postpone the Mandatory National Youth Service program. This was my defining experience as I significantly got exposure to the real-world applications of Mathematics. I was able to pinpoint what my career trajectory would look like.
I graduated with a Distinction and I am ever grateful for the overall AIMS experience as I look forward to the prospects of further study. I was also awarded the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship and appointed as the Scholar’s representative for AIMS-Cameroon, and the entire AIMS Network later. This was another opportunity to experiment leadership, service, and networking. My fascination for the Mastercard Foundation and the Scholars Community grew with the engagement and appreciation of the great opportunity offered to me. I am excited to be interning with the Foundation now.
What pushes your ambition everyday?
I will say God, People, Passion, and Courage. I am a believer and I so much enjoy my relationship with God, living in the reality that I do have a heavenly Father who loves me and takes care of my life journey. That assurance keeps me moving.
Certain people have been very instrumental to my growth and transitions, family, friends, and people who greatly believe in me, my potential, and my abilities. Their support and words of encouragement keep me going.
Passion, I can speak about that the whole day. There is oil of ease that drives you when you are doing what you are passionate about.
Courage, I believe there are a lot of possibilities coated with disappointments, failures, and challenges. A success story may be unattainable without them. So, I make a resolve to touch those possibilities through courage and resilience.
Tell us about your achievements and awards
AIMS/MCF Scholarship, Overall Best Female Graduating Student 18/19 AIMS-Cameroon, Winner – Premier 3MT Competition at AIMS-Cameroon.
Who is Francisca outside work?
Outside work, I love being around family, I love helping people in any way I can. Writing is my air; I love breathing the creative and inspirational energy it gives me and passes across to others. I also lead a closed group (The Sleek Damsels) of about 22 young ladies who are determined to lead virtuous and balanced lives. I listen to podcasts and watch good movies. Lately, I have been enjoying cooking a lot as well.
What’s your favourite quote?
“The space is big for us all to shine. Helping someone rise won’t demote you” ~ Francisca Olajumoke Olajide
What is your word of encouragement for a young girl in STEM?
Treading an unusual path takes a lot of courage, but it will surely pay off with diligence. Every sacrifice you are paying now will pay you back later, do it passionately.
Believe in yourself and don’t be discouraged when you fail. Failures are great opportunities for Success.
Be in the right environment, create an environment for your potential to grow and blossom, find the right people to look up to in your chosen path of interest.
Thank you, Francisca! It is wonderful to know that there are people who are passionately pursing their dreams. It was a pleasure to meet you and share your story with the world. I wish you more blessings in life!