Being a Grand Challenge Scholar definitely made me better equipped to tackle the real world challenges. I graduated from Louisiana Tech with my Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and a French minor in May 2016. As Grand Challenge Apprentice at Tech, I focused on “Developing Carbon Sequestration Methods.” Growing up in Lagos Nigeria, and being exposed to significant amount of environmental pollution- through exhaust fumes for example -made environmental sustainability important to me. For me, ensuring that we preserve our Earth is crucial because a healthier planet is more conducive for healthy people. To address this, I tried to determine ways to make [automobile] engines more efficient hence, minimizing the amount of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emitted.
At Tech, I held various leadership roles in campus organizations such as: National Society of Black Engineers (Treasurer, Academic Excellence Chair & Chemical Engineering Mentor), Engineering & Science Association (Treasurer, Community Service Chair), Nigerian Students Association (President) etc. My education at Louisiana Tech was a gift, and in the words of Dr. Jenna Carpenter, the Grand Challenge Scholars program “added the extra red bow to that gift.”
The GCSP exposed me important experiences I might have never gotten otherwise. For instance, I got to partake in undergraduate research, and eventually received the Louisiana Board of Regents grant for my research on Thermal Energy Storage Devices, supervised by Dr. Weiss. The Entrepreneurship component was definitely my best. The New Venture Championship was my first real exposure to the specific steps involved in starting a business. So, although our product, SolarTherm didn’t win the Championship, the entire process and all the help from Ms. Debbie Inman definitely helped me to awaken the social entrepreneur in me.
I am currently at the University of Texas at Austin, getting a Master’s degree in Global Policy Studies (with a specialization in International Trade, Finance and Development). In addition to being a student at UT, I am a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the university’s Geography department. Outside of UT, I work part time as a Development Associate with Sustainability International, and as the Chief Business Development Officer at Impactionate. The skills I gained as a GC scholar are literally shaping my daily life. For instance, my teaching experience at S2S Tutors for the Service Learning component of the GC curricular plan adequately prepared me to be teaching assistant. The Entrepreneurship component exposed me to the business world, and the skills I gained through the New Venture Championship better prepared me for my current roles as Development Associate, and Business Development Officer.
To me, being a GC Scholar is not merely to maximize my engineering skills & receive a prestigious medal & letter from the National Academy of Engineering. More importantly, it’s about owning the responsibility of leveraging cross-disciplinary knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit and global perspective in addressing the multi-faceted issues facing our world today. The more people there are taking on this responsibility, the better off our world will be.