Rising from the dust to becoming the first Ph.D holder in my immediate and extended family is a product of divine grace, strong will, diligence and persistence. Even when the road was very tough, the desire to be different from my parent (who did not have opportunity of going to school) and positively impact my world were my driving force to achieving feats in my academic pursuits.
I became the third child (out of five) to Mr. and Mrs. Babafemi and Oluwakemi Jooda on the 2nd of May, 1981. I was not born with silver spoon in my mouth, but my desire and struggles to chart a different path from what I grew up with is gradually making way for me into sitting with the Kings and Princes. My conviction that though my beginning may be little but my end shall be greatly increased had brought me thus far.
I am a native of Igbajo in Osun State, Nigeria. I attended public schools all through my primary, secondary and tertiary studies, since my parents did not have financial capacity to send me to private school. This did not pose any serious barrier to attaining my current academic status. I grew up to helping my mother on her bread merchandise before leaving for school. I patronized bakery to collect loaves of bread as early as 5:30 a.m on my mother’s behalf for sales. This task I did daily before leaving for school at 7.00 a.m. (since late coming to school attract serious punishment) all through my secondary school days. After school, I assisted my mother to hawk left over loaves of bread whenever there were poor sales at her shop. The family feeding and well being basically depended on the proceeds from my mother’s shop
I graduated from my secondary school with eight distinctions in the subjects I sat for in 1998. This was the first major encouragement for me to consider procuring entrance examination form into the university. I had to work first as a sales girl for three months at a Cosmetic Factory and later as an assistant teacher at a newly opened private primary school in my area for two years after graduating from secondary school to raise money for this entrance examination form.
I became an undergraduate at the Department of Agronomy, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria between April, 2000 and September, 2005 while still been involved in my part-time teaching job during my holidays. I went to bed countless times without food while I still trekked (especially on days I did not have money to join the campus shuttle) to campus (I was leaving off-campus) the following day without food. At my third year during my undergraduate study, I was one of the beneficiaries of the Federal Government Scholarship for University Students. This scholarship served to ease me of the financial crisis I was facing and further encouraged me to do more on my studies. I eventually graduated as the best student at the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.77, the first ever recorded in my department. This immediately led to my appointment as a Graduate Assistant at my department while I pursued my Master’s degree at the Department of Agronomy, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. This again was an encouragement to me not to give up, because the Lord has started to favorably reward my struggles and persistence.
My supervisor, Professor J.A.I. Omueti was proud of my performance during my Master’s program and desired to supervise my doctoral research. I immediately proceeded on my Ph.D program and the research I conducted under his supervision birth my research passion to develop organo-input and services for reclamation of degraded soils and environmental revitalization for healthy food production. Today, my research work had accomplished biological and thermal modification of agro-wastes (such as sawdust, rice bran, groundnut husk, poultry manure, cow dung etc.) and underutilized weeds (such as Tithonia diversifolia and Imperata cylindrica) into organic fertilizers and soil conditioners such as compost, phospho-compost and biochar. These soil organic products have been tested under incubation, screen house and field conditions and the results have been encouraging and are efficient in remediating problematic soils (acid, sodic, soil organic carbon and herbicide degraded soils) and mitigate CO2 emissions from our soils.
These research outputs just won me a Postdoctoral Research Position at the Faculty of Applied Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa to be sponsored by Nigerian TETFUND. This experience will sure expose me to studying and conducting research under a totally different set up I had been through in the past two decades. I indeed appreciate God for the strength and grace. All thanks to all the teachers that I had studied under and special thanks to my academic supervisors and mentors for making me.
I therefore encourage young ones coming after me not to give up on their academic pursuit even when all hope seems lost.