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Q&A with a Future World Changer: Sofiat Olaosebikan

Q&A with a Future World Changer: Sofiat Olaosebikan main image

Sponsored by University of Glasgow

At some time or another, every student has dreamed of ways in which they’d like to make the world a better place and how their degree can help them achieve that.

Well, there are students out there who actually put their dreams into action, whether it’s reforming a country’s entire care system, powering Indian villages using sustainable energy solutions, or in Sofiat Olaosebikan’s case, empowering young scientists in Africa with computer programming skills to tackle developmental challenges across the continent.

Sofiat is in the fourth year of her PhD at the University of Glasgow and is one of 33 students chosen to join the university’s Future World Changers Program which helps talented students fulfil their ambitions to change the world alongside their studies. Since joining the program, Sofiat has successfully ran workshops in Nigeria and Rwanda which have benefited over 200 aspiring students. 

We spoke with Sofiat to find out more about PWSAfrica (Programming Workshops for Scientists in Africa) and what it means to see her dream of helping others become a reality.

What was your motivation for creating PWSAfrica? Can you tell us a bit about it?

PWSAfrica was born out of a strong desire to give back, to inspire and to empower. I’m very lucky to have been awarded scholarships that have enabled me to realize and explore my passion for programming and problem-solving and, most importantly, enabled me to get to this point in my academic career.

Knowing there are so many students back in Africa who don’t have access to the same opportunity, who are lacking the basic skills to realize their potential, saddens me and keeps me awake at night. These students are my motivation for running PWSAfrica. I’m fortunate to have access to quality education, and so the least I can do is give back!

What have you learnt from your experience as a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow and as the creator of PWSAfrica?

As the founder of PWSAfrica, I’ve learnt I’m capable of doing so much more than I can begin to comprehend. I’ve figured out what my strengths are, how passionate I am about using my skills to help people and how relentless I can be in achieving this. There are a lot of challenges that accompany doing a PhD and running an initiative like PWSAfrica alongside it!

I’ve stretched myself and lost sleep, yet I want to do more. It’s an amazing feeling figuring out what direction you want your life to take just from taking on a selfless service. For me, it’s combining my passion for problem-solving, programming and helping people to make the world a better place.

What are your hopes for the future of PWSAfrica?

The long-term vision for PWSAfrica is to set up an institution in strategic countries within the continent which will serve as a hub where innovative research is being carried out by Africans.

This research will essentially be geared towards tackling developmental challenges arising within the continent by using tools from science and technology. Currently, Africans are lacking one of the most relevant skills needed to solve large and complex problems efficiently, which is programming, and this is why my current goal with PWSAfrica is to first tackle this skills gap.

What does it mean to you to be named a Future World Changer?

When I first saw the Future World Changer program, I didn’t want to put in an application because I told myself I didn’t start this just to get an award!

However, seeing how many people have been inspired by my story and by the work I am doing through PWSAfrica, I’m glad I applied.

Being named a Future World Changer is bigger than myself. I’m only a vessel of change, and I’m excited at the opportunity it presents to reach a much wider audience and to make a significant impact in people’s lives.

How do you think your time at the University of Glasgow has helped you with PWSAfrica?

Interestingly, the work I’m doing with PWSAfrica has been on my mind long before I came to the UK, but I was only able to implement it during my time at the University of Glasgow.

This is largely due to the overwhelming support I received from the School of Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. The School took my initiative on board as part of their international outreach, which gave me a solid platform to connect with universities in Africa. It would have been extremely difficult to set up PWSAfrica without this support.

Lead image credit: Martin Shields

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Written by Stephanie Lukins
As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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