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I am helpless against the internal compass that points to familiar elements of my African heritage in unfamiliar settings. Detecting the faint sounds of yoruba along the aisles of Walmart suspends my hunt for groceries until I have found the Nigerian mother scolding her pouting child. The aroma of fufu orders my steps to a neighbouring apartment shared by Ghanaian sisters in Tallahassee, Florida. Likewise, I am intrigued by the presence of the name amidst the patchwork of clickable icons on the Wellesley 100 list: Liz Ogbu, “alumna, social innovator and green architect” – would you believe it! The name captures my attention, resounding my rich African heritage and ambitions I yearn to realize. With trembling fingers I type the name into a search engine and, at once, the story of a remarkable woman unfolds before my eyes. I scour the Internet for sensory details and I find them: pictorial evidences that we possess the same ebony skin and wear the same assured smile that persists in the face of challenges.
As a young Nigerian girl, I am often told that my ideal to harmonise my interests in engineering with the development of the world around me is unlikely to materialise. Rather, my intrinsic value supposedly lies in the execution of wifely duties. From no less than the stage of TEDxMidAtlantic, Liz Ogbu endorses my passions, particularly my aim to give members of underserved communities a seat at the table of discussions which address emerging spatial issues. I am determined to walk in her footsteps; first through the renowned halls of Wellesley College and then through the most challenged urban environments of my beloved continent.
As a lover of words, I also consider the 100th item on the Wellesley 100 a choice instance of clickbait. Synapses firing, I delve deeper into its seemingly ambiguous meaning. Not only do I discover a community that embodies diversity, I uncover an unlikely phrase that encapsulates my desire to belong to the clan otherwise known as the “pluralistic, polyphonic, unclassifiable mass of humanity” that is the Wellesley student body. I imagine making lasting friendships that will transcend religious, ethnic, and even intellectual interests. I imagine seeing my paradoxical interests flourish alongside those of classmates with similarly varied passions. Lovers of science and literature, artists and economists, Nancy Drew fans and musicians.
Amongst kindred spirits, I will thrive in the absence of moulds. I will forge my own unique path. I will be African and feminine without compromise, for the limitations posed by these identities have instilled the values of tenacity and perseverance in me. Above all, I have learnt that a proactive mind-set and great further education is the propeller of my ambitions and look forward to contributing to and partaking of the rich atmosphere of Wellesley College, to become a highly impactful engineer.
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