Class of 2024: Obimobi Onyeukwu-Onyenso on his contribution to the life sciences

Obimobi Onyeukwu-Onyenso is a final year Biological and Medical Sciences student who’s due to graduate in July 2024. This year, Obimobi was awarded a Greatest contribution to EDI award at the University’s Equality+ Awards.

Earlier this month, we spoke with Obimobi about his achievements and plans for his next steps after graduation.

If you want to follow Obimobi, you can do so on LinkedIn and Instagram (@obimonyenso).

What has been your Uni highlight?

It has to be the trip to Berlin that I and a few other students took with the University’s Careers and Employability team. We were there to work with students from the Berlin school of economics and Ulster University to pitch an idea on how the platform Handshake could improve their user engagement.

I got to work with some amazing people, and we managed to win the competition with our idea which we called the Mentorhub. It was a great trip, and not only did I get to explore a new city, but I also made a lot of great friends.

What do you plan to do after graduation? 

I would like to pursue a master’s degree in biomedical engineering here at the University. I feel like it would be a great opportunity to combine my interests in both science and technology.

In 10 years, what would you like to be doing?

I hope to be a qualified patent attorney helping people foster innovation in science. It would be an honour to be in a position where I can help people who look like me show kids who come from the same place as us that you can make your mark in the life sciences.

Hopefully, wherever I am living this dream a basketball court will be nearby.

Obimobi’s message for the Class of 2024:

To the rest of the class of 2024, congratulations! It has been a pleasure to get to know some of you and be encouraged by you.

I came to this university and met people who came here for a reason bigger than themselves. That reason drove them to do inspiring projects and push themselves academically.

I have also met people who have shown me the beauty of the journey. Whether it is long hours in the library, gym, or basketball court. I have seen progress come from the long journey we endure.

If any of these people are reading this, I would like to say thank you. I wish you the very best in what you do next and please keep on being you. There is no one else better at doing that but you.

You were awarded the Greatest Contribtuion to EDI award. Can you tell us more about this:

I won the award for my contribution to the promotion of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) on campus.

I worked within the decolonising the life sciences curriculum (DeCoL-SoLS) advocates team to create resources that challenged bias in scientific literature and promoted the work of marginalised scientists through history.

These resources were created to be implemented in the curriculum of life science undergraduates which our team believed would go a long way in helping to decolonize the curriculum.

Our team’s work was recognized by Advance HE and I was invited as a representative of the team to speak on our accomplishments in one of Advance He’s national conferences.

Before all this, I took part in an optional module called the science, civic and society service award (SaSCA) that had a significant impact on me. In one of the lectures, we were asked to picture a scientist and the picture of the person I had in my head looked nothing like me.

As a result, the main goal behind everything I have done was to help that feeling I had not to be the same for other people who look like me.

How did you feel when you found out you had won the award?

I was ecstatic. Not just because of the fact that I won an award but what that award meant. The award showed me how many people really do appreciate the work done to promote EDI on campus. It also got me excited for the future as students continue to expand on work done in the past to promote EDI.

In 10 years, what one thing do you hope will have changed in relation to equality, diversity, and inclusion?

I hope that in more spaces promoting EDI would be a priority not just to fill a bracket but to actually create spaces where people from different minority ethnic groups can feel comfortable.

If you could teach or tell a large group of people something in relation to equality, diversity, and inclusion, what would it be? 

I would tell them that promoting EDI is important. Not just for the people around them but for those that come after them as well.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take every opportunity and do not be scared of embarrassing yourself. Sometimes you could work hard on something, and it will take you longer to reach your goals compared to those around you. That is fine. Just keep working and find your own way. Trust me, you will get there.

Obimobi’s recommended resources:

There is a documentary on Netflix called ‘Picture a Scientist’ which looks at gender inequality in the life sciences by telling the stories of several prominent female researchers. I found it informative and compelling as it also presented numbers showing the lack of people who look like me that go on to pursue careers in research.

Obimobi’s final words:

I’d like to thank a ton of people.

First and foremost, I would like to thank God for bringing me this far. He has indeed been faithful. I would like to thank my Mum for all of her sacrifices to get me here. She has worked so hard for the future of my siblings and I. This is hopefully just one of the many achievements to show her it was all worth it.

All I have done has been with intention to make my mother Nkechi Onyenso proud and to carry on the legacy of my father Job Obinna Onyenso. A friend of mine once said, the only thing in this life that you own is your name. I will continue to do my best to bring honour to my family name.

Rest in power Dad, your legacy continues to live on.

Next, I would like to thank some staff at the University as well. First to my academic supervisor, Dr Helen Wright. She always encouraged me to push myself and offered support whenever I needed it. A massive thank you also to both my supervisor Dr Shadia Khandaker and Fahad Mashwal for their assistance through my research project. I would also like to thank Dr Carl Larsen and Amal Abdulkadir for all the projects they got me involved in to promote EDI on campus.

Lastly, thank you to all my friends. Those who have pushed me to better academically and on the basketball court. Looking forward to seeing what you do, it has been a pleasure getting to know you.