When the going gets tough, the Girl gets going: Meet Oluwakemi Oyelowo

Dr Oluwakemi Oyelowo Took part in the 2021 Soapbox Science Lagos event, with the talk: The role of edible seeds in human reproduction.

By Dr Oluwakemi Oyelowo

“The running of a PhD programme for a lady can be likened to a tough rough road. From experience, it is safe to say that there are a lot of pressures associated with the PhD programme: financial, emotional, material, psychological, etc. 

The inner strength, courage, and determination to carry on is very important. Some ladies are privileged to have supportive family and friends, however, some do not. After all, it takes someone in one’s shoes to understand the need to burn the midnight oil, be in the laboratory 24/7 (even when the results just don’t add up sometimes), bury one’s head in books and articles all day long. Some young children cannot understand why mummy is always working on her laptop even at weekends.

In my experience as a PhD student in reproductive endocrinology (physiology), the challenges were basically, balancing my job with the PhD programme, as I had to make enough time for both. I also had to support myself through the programme because there was no external funding received.

These are the 3 top tips that helped me finish my degree and today become a PhD holder.

Tip 1: I worked hard at it, I was determined, and I had the faith that it just must end well.

Tip 2: I had supportive family members and friends and that helped make the journey easy.

Tip 3: I was positive throughout. I managed the stress by trying to live life as normal as I could and taking out time to relax whenever it was necessary and possible. Unfortunately, numerous pressures have weighed in on some ladies and they have backed out! If a lady reading this piece is planning on quitting, please remember that tough times don’t last, but tough people do! Remember also that the PhD programme is a phase in life that can be conquered. When the going gets tough, Girl, keep going until you reach your goal!”

Q&A with Dr Oluwakemi Oyelowo

Soapbox Science: How did you get to your current position?

Oluwakemi Oyelowo: The Grace of God and hard work.

SS: What, or who, inspired you to get a career in science?

OO: I was inspired by the fact that living things (human beings inclusive) can be affected by their environment and behavioural changes (diet and lifestyle). My Mother inspired me to get a career in science.

SS: What is the most fascinating aspect of your research/work?

OO: Diets play different roles in health and diseases.

SS: What attracted you to Soapbox Science in the first place?

OO: A platform that allows one to communicate science to non-scientists!

SS: Sum up in one word your expectations for the day

OO: Impactful

SS: If you could change one thing about the scientific culture in Nigeria right now, what would it be?

OO: Better funding for research and better renumeration for researchers.

SS: What would be your top recommendation to a woman studying for a PhD and considering pursuing a career in academia?

OO: Be emotionally ready to face the challenges ahead. These challenges are surmountable if you don’t lose hope.

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