It’s that time of the year when BellaNaija presents to you “Class of 2017”. BellaNaija called for submissions by graduating students who have excelled in their course of study. We acknowledge the fact that everyone who has graduated this year is a winner. We, however, want to celebrate those who have gone over and above the norm by getting meritorious distinctions and awards from their institution of study. One of such people is Ruth Atinuke Mojeed.
Despite having barely enough money for one year’s tuition, Atinuke took the leap and moved to Canada, from her home in Lagos. . She recently graduated with a Masters in International Communication from Royal Roads University and has a Certificate in Leadership & Organizing from Harvard University, which she registered for during the last phase of her Masters.
Here’s Ruth’s story, we hope it inspires you.
Ruth – Community Leadership and Chasing Dreams
I am a self-motivated and resourceful person who enjoys engaging in community projects. I also love connecting with different members of my local and diaspora community.
Some of my best acquaintances are homeless people whose stories encourage me to make a difference in the world. I cook, hike or design outfits in my spare time.
I graduated with a Second Class -Upper division in Mass Communication from Covenant University, where I served as Community Development Officer and supported a charity organization throughout my undergraduate years. I also received the Chancellor’s ‘Excellence in Leadership’ award among many others.
After my undergraduate studies, I worked with an international non-profit organization in Nigeria and was motivated to set new career goals and take on new challenges so I decided to get a Masters degree outside the country.
Little Money, Big Vision
It was a huge leap of faith for me, having only enough money to cover my first year tuition- with the economic downturn in the country at the time I was leaving, there was hardly any hope of covering the other half of the tuition or my living expenses.
But I was convinced it was the next step for me so I decided to take on the challenge.
Finding my Feet and Creating Opportunities for Myself
On getting to Canada, I realized it was not the rose garden I had thought it to be…some aspects of living in the new country exceeded my expectations and the reality of living in a city where I did not know anyone soon dawned on me. That, and the fact that I was quickly running out of already lean funds.
As an international student with no prior Canadian work experience, the only kind of jobs I could get were menial jobs, retail jobs and other kinds of jobs that were not exactly the expressway to better earnings or actually getting ahead in my career.
I was keen on getting a job that was a good use of my skills and work experience and looked promising career-wise, so I decided it was better to do something on my own and work with my hands while in school.
I live in a city with predominantly white people and very few rendering services to black people; for instance, there are very few salons where you can braid your hair, so I decided to dust my old skill- making hair. I had learnt to braid as a kid and improved my skills during NYSC. I started with some students and people in my church, and soon had a huge enough clientele to set up a hair studio. I got other students to assist me and also earn some money for themselves. Apart from providing extra income, the business also gave me the flexibility to work at my own time so I put my experience working with the less-privileged and connecting with community members on different levels during my undergraduate years to good use and started some volunteer work with a non-profit organization in my city; I was able to get the much-needed work experience that helped me qualify for my next job.
I did all of these while joggling the hectic schedule of being a full-time student, and still having to cover huge living expenses. In spite of the income from my business, I was still unable to meet up with payment for the second half of my tuition. Calling my parents in Nigeria for money was out of the question for me because of the ridiculous exchange rate, so I was certain the best way around it would be to take a year off school, do some work and earn enough to continue with school. I kept praying about my decision and finally decided to talk to my parents about it. My dad was alarmed at my decision and insisted on sending enough to cover a semester so I could stay in school while trying to figure out the rest. Shortly after, I got an amazing internship with a Community Foundation, and was able to pay the rest of my fees within a few weeks.
The Demanding Task of a Harvard Programme
I decided to enroll in a semester-long leadership programme at Harvard for mid-level executives during the last phase of my Masters programme. I had no idea how demanding the programme would turn out to be, so I was literally falling apart while it lasted – I was working full time during the day, studying through the night, attending early morning classes and working on projects and assignments at any spare time. But I was determined to see the end.
The past few months have been some of my longest, but I am very grateful to God for the strength and fortitude to see each academic project through. I completed both programs within 2 weeks, developed a stronger competitive edge.
Smashing Goals and Living my Dream
I have been able to achieve my career goal of getting a job as Communications & PR personnel in a large non-profit organization that maximizes my skills and helps me support homeless people and low-income families. I am also involved in various community projects, including being a columnist for some local magazines and hosting a TV show.
Plans of the Future
I am looking forward to exploring more academic opportunities in the future as well as becoming more active within my community. I currently serve on the Board of the Canadian Public Relations Society (Vancouver Island), and support other non-profit organizations that provide a wide range of services.
I want to support newcomers; also to advocate for the marginalised and under-represented in the community. I want to make a difference in the world by touching lives one person at a time.
If you want to be part of this inspiring and amazing feature or if you know someone who is part of the Class of 2017 who should be featured here, please send an email to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com. We look forward to reading from you and sharing your academic excellence.