The real test of a high school education is how it plays out afterward. CAN graduates are successful, hardworking, and are making contributions in diverse fields. Here are just a few of the many paths taken by Concept Alumni.

Alumni Spotlight
(Week of May 9, 2016)

Damilola Oyedokun

Damilola Oyedokun is an alumna of Chicago Math and Science Academy (CMSA), Class of 2014. Currently, Damilola is attending the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in Mathematics.

Briefly, describe your career path.
My Sophomore year ends in a week. Junior year starts in about 4 months. I still cannot believe how fast time has gone. I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I am on the BS/MS track, which means right after my undergraduate graduation, I spend a week at home and start my Master’s, which I hope to complete within a year or two, and then go into the industry full-fledged. Perhaps, I will get my Professional Licensure and maybe get my PhD, but time will tell.
 
What are you passionate about in your work/school?
I am passionate about breaching the gap between engineering and medicine. The traditional separation of these two interrelated workforces has been the practice for years. However, I want to go in-depth to see what roles engineers can play in public health aspects like social determinants of health, mental health and environmental determinants of health. How can bioengineers improve the health of maternal and child care in developing countries? How can I make the devices/products more effective, inexpensive and accessible? How can I make sure people are living a quality and healthy lifestyle? These questions are what fuels my passion each day because I want to make a difference in my generation. It is about finding out the preventative measures before curing the effects.
 
Where is your career headed?
Biomedical engineers can work anywhere, from other engineering specialties, to basic laboratory scientists, research, to physicians, bio-pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, etc. However, with a broad range as such, I am limiting myself to biopharm companies and research. Currently, I have been a clinical research lab aide at the UIC-College of Medicine in the pathology lab. This summer, I will be interning at the School of Public Health/College of Medicine as the environmental determinants of health research intern. I am very excited for this new role because it has been my interest to work in public health. Next year, hopefully, I plan to travel to Nicaragua with the Engineering World Health Summer Institute, whereby I will have the experience of repairing vital medical equipment in one of the world's most resource-poor community. Then maybe I will do a co-op or internship with a biopharm company like Pfizer and that will set me up for my industry experience.
 
How has your Concept Schools (CMSA) experience helped shape your success?
I think Chicago Math and Science Academy helped formed me into who I am. I was able to combine a lot of classes and hold many leadership roles while at CMSA. I was able to think critically and define who I am in the school. One of the classes that helped shaped my career choice is AP Biology with Mrs. Rodriguez. She taught the class in such a way that I loved Biology more than some classes, except music band class haha. She will encourage me to go for the Ohio Science Fair which I participated in twice and won Best in Category: Biochemistry also with the help of Dr. Unlu. The support was there, the love was there and even when felt a bit dejected, I had a great a support system in my friends and loving teachers!
 
How are you a game changer? Or, how are you making a positive impact in your community?
Just being the first to attend college here in U.S and pursue STEM in my family has already set me apart. I have 5 lovely younger siblings looking up to me and I want to make sure the paths I pave will become generational in that wherever they go, as long as someone who knows me is there, they will always feel welcome and loved in a special way. I want them to strive to be the best and accomplish more than I have and will.  I worked with Howard Area Community for about 3 years in which I helped mentor and guide teens with their homework, science projects and they felt safe to confide in me. At school, I am a student ambassador and peer mentor at Women in Science and Engineering. As a student ambassador, I implement science fairs and engineering workshops for middle and high school girls in Girls Who Code. As a peer mentor, I mentor a freshman in the same major as me and we just talk through academics, fun activities and I am her big sister on campus. I am part of the UIC Eco Club in which we create sustainability activities and are positive environmental activists.
 
What is the most amazing or interesting thing that's happened to you since graduating?
FREEDOM! Just kidding, I still live at home. However, being able to set my time and schedule in regards to classes and what to make priorities is awesome. The fact that my school is paying me to study there for free and get refunds still amazes me which means with God, nothing is impossible. I love college, but it has its challenges as well but that's what makes it a higher education.
 
Your favorite Concept Schools (CMSA) memory?
One of my favorite CMSA memories was when my best friend, Matilda Patterson, and I worked with bunch of middle school girls for the Black History Month event coordinated by Ms. Vincent. It was so challenging in that we were to showcase different dances from different African cultures and teach the girls in less than a month. I remember we practiced over and over until late in the night and that even Ms. Colon could not get us to leave the building. We would be working on the styles, the attires, and sometimes we would forget the steps and invent another one. It was just stressfully fun, but it turned out amazing. People loved everything about it and it creates a special bond between us and the girls and our culture.
 
Anything else you’d like to share?
Shout out to my band family! I love you all very much. You guys made my middle and high school life much better. To Ms. Vincent, honestly, how can I ever thank you enough? Maybe fly you all around the world, but still that will not be enough for the safe space you created whereby I could just come in and cry and you would just automatically understand and hug me. The list goes on, and I am just grateful for all my teachers because without them, I would not be here.
 
How do you support and participate in the Concept (CMSA) Alumni?
Thanks to Mr. Senol, I have registered to be a mentee in the CAMP program for the alumni. I come to alumni events that fit in my schedule. I apply for alumni scholarships, and I have won one of them which I am still grateful for. I’ve had this platform to share my story, even though more is yet to come. Thanks to Mr. Karatas for always updating me on alumni events and important Concept Schools programs. I wish to do more in terms of giving back to the wonderful school that has shaped me into who I am academically and I know God will grant that wish soon.
 

Concept Alumni Network (CAN) invites suggestions for Alumni Spotlights!
Do you know a Concept Alum(s) who has:
  • An interesting job?
  • An extraordinary story to tell?
  • Made a difference in his/her community?
  • Been a role model for others?
Contact us at alumni@conceptschools.org for more information

   Recent Alumni Spotlights