Mopelola Akinlaja

 
Understanding host-pathogen interactions between
Leonard Foster
Garki
Nigeria
International Tuition Award
 
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

While I was working as an analytical chemist right out of college, my eyes were opened to all the amazing things that research allows humans to accomplish and discover. I knew in order to ask my own interesting questions and make my mark in the world of research, I needed the right kind of training, so I decided that going to graduate school would help me acquire the skills and experience I need.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

Honestly, Vancouver! It's such a breathtaking city, and it doesn't hurt that one of the best learning institutions in the world is located in it. It's honestly such a blessing to be here.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

I didn't start off with a strong research background, so when I was reading about the different research topics in my department, I was so inspired. The diversity of interests in our department is highly commendable. I was drawn in particular to my professor's research, using powerful tools like mass spectrometry to ask very important questions about honey bee health. There aren't many places in the world that do that.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

You never stop being in awe of how gorgeous Vancouver is. I honestly thought I would get used to it, but every time I ride across the Burrard bridge or go to the Rose Garden, I'm in awe again.

I chose UBC because of Vancouver! It's such a breathtaking city, and it doesn't hurt that one of the best learning institutions in the world is located in it. It's honestly such a blessing to be here.
 
What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

I am an African woman in STEM and I have big dreams. That's the challenge. While I believe I am capable of achieving anything I set my mind to, the women who have gone before me are great examples of the struggle that entails. I know I will have to move through opposition, subtle and overt, but I can only hope I do it with even more grace than my successful predecessors have done. I'm optimistic.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

My faith, my family and my friends. That's where it begins for me. And while I haven't always been the best at believing in myself, one thing I know is that there is nothing I want to learn that I cannot learn and excel at. And I believe that will get me very far. I also have to recognise the opportunities I have had. So many people who are just as good, if not better than I am aren't where I am, and it's because of opportunities I have, that they didn't get. I always try to keep that in mind. Hopefully I can create opportunities for more people as I grow.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I love to sing! I'm also trying to get into hiking (I live in Vancouver after all). I'm mostly a homebody but I really enjoy most things that involve being around people I care about.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Believe in yourself, you are here for a reason. I struggled so much with that. There are so many incredibly brilliant people here and sometimes I would get lost in it and doubt my own abilities. With the help of my family and friends, I had constant reminders that I am gifted, and I deserve to be here. It really does help. Once you conquer your mind, I believe conquering everywhere else gets easier.

 
 
 

Learn about our faculties, research and more than 300 programs in our 2022 Graduate Viewbook!