Today’s STEM WOW Ibukunoluwa Aribilola, is a self-described risk-taker and a Volunteer Progression Tutor at the African Science Academy (ASA).

Ibukunoluwa has achieved many things in her lifetime.

She organises guest speaker series at ASA and the last 4 months of her gap year before university she spent supporting new cohorts through the process of completing Cambridge International A-levels in a year.

With hopes of studying Biomedical Engineering to research into less-invasive and cheaper diagnostic methods for her home country and the world, she shadowed Dr. Elsie Kaufmann, a senior lecturer of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ghana for a day.

She also interned at 37 Military Hospital to gain experience in various career prospects in Biomedical Engineering.

Against the norm, Ibukunoluwa moved from Nigeria to Ghana to complete an A-level programme in Math, Further Math and Physics.

As the first ever Head Girl and only Nigerian of ASA, Ibukunoluwa had several opportunities to express her passion.

She represented ASA at the African Women in Tech conference and was also one of 4 students selected to go on a fully funded trip to the UK where she did a BBC radio interview and spoke at a breakfast event organised in the home of the Lord Mayor of London.

“My interest in STEM dates as far back as Primary School. Although my parents are not scientists, they always bought books from different disciplines and created an environment for me to develop my passion for STEM”, Ibukunoluwa said in the interview to Nsesa Foundation.

She explained that she “loved the feeling of euphoria after spending hours trying to solve a math question and the idea that all the answers to my questions about why certain things happen could be answered by science.”

Speaking of her greatest achievement, Ibukunoluwa mentioned getting the top Further Math and Math CIE A-level scores in Ghana; “I am particularly proud of this achievement because I completed my A-levels in only 10 months instead of the regular 2 years.

“Winning the awards created a platform for me to provide guidance and motivation to other students who are yet to take their A-level exams. I know that I made my teachers, parents and, colleagues very proud as it was a team effort that made me achieve this feat.”

Ibukunoluwa also spoke of the doubt she felt when she first moved to Ghana from Nigeria; since people didn’t understand why she decided to take her A-levels in Ghana instead of attending a university in Nigeria.

She overcame these by telling herself “I had a purpose in ASA and I cannot give anyone the power to make me deviate from my purpose.”

Additionally, Ibukunoluwa also said she used to believe that Engineering was limited only to boys however, Senior High School changed that.

“I finally realised that I can be whoever I want to be, that my dreams are not dependent on my gender. Now, I feel so comfortable doing an internship in a male-dominated environment.”

Lastly, Ibukunoluwa adviced women in STEM to; make good use of every opportunity to develop their interest in STEM; reach out to women who have reached greater heights in STEM for guidance; identify their strengths, weaknesses and goals; and to be inquisitive.

STEM WOW is a project by Nsesa Foundation to tell the stories of young inspirational African women on the continent and in the diaspora who are rocking it in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

By: ClaraDoku/