Oluwadamilola (Dammy) Fadodun (MSc(N) '23) chose to pursue graduate studies at the University of Lethbridge because of its reputation as a public research institution and commitment towards research advocacy.

The open communication and support I received from some friends in Canada and the International office at ULethbridge while in Nigeria convinced me that the University of Lethbridge was the right learning community for me.

Meet Oluwadamilola. Brave. Passionate. Resilient.
Hometown: Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria
Program: Master of Science | Major: Nursing

Why did you choose to pursue graduate studies at ULethbridge?

My passion for research and the fact that the University of Lethbridge is a reputable public research institution were key contributors to my choice of studying here. While I searched for schools, I discovered that the University had a strong commitment towards research advocacy. This was evident in the University's investment in innovative research.

What does your research focus on, and what do you hope to accomplish with your research?

My research primarily focuses on women's and child's health, with a specific emphasis on gynecological diseases, particularly cervical cancer. I developed a deep interest in this field due to the alarming prevalence of a preventable condition that continues to claim the lives of women in Africa, including my home country, Nigeria. It was disheartening to learn that in Nigeria, a woman succumbs to cervical cancer every hour. I witnessed this reality during my undergraduate research as I listened to stories of women diagnosed with the disease. This experience left me overwhelmed with emotions and a drive to make a difference. Also, my undergraduate supervisor, Professor Abimbola Oluwatosin, further encouraged me to pursue this research interest.

Hence, at the University of Lethbridge, I further explored this area of interest to uncover the significant role social identities play in accessing cervical cancer screening services in Nigeria.

An unexpected discovery from my research revealed colonial activities may have shaped the identities and realities of women in terms of equitable access to preventive health care in Nigeria, post-colonial. This realization sparked a “EUREKA” moment and gave rise to even more questions that I aim to explore in my future research endeavours.

What is your most memorable ULethbridge experience?

My most memorable experience at ULethbridge was when I defended my thesis and got the decanal approval. It marked the beginning of a new phase in my career pursuit.

What is the most important lesson you learned during your time as a graduate student at ULethbridge?

My parents have always taught me never to give up, even if it means crawling to the finishing line. The University of Lethbridge further reinforced this lesson of resilience.

Is there someone specific who had an important influence on your ULethbridge experience?

My supervisor, Dr. Mark Zieber, and my research committee, Dr. Lisa Howard, and Dr. Peter Kellet, played significant roles during my graduate journey and provided unwavering confidence in me during moments of self-doubt. Their abundant knowledge and extensive experience truly deserve commendation, as they have greatly inspired me to seek further expertise in my field. This motivation compels me to provide value and pass on the same benefits to future generations.

Additionally, I would like to mention Dr. Olu Awosoga, who, despite our limited in-person interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, helped shape my perspective at the beginning of my journey. As an international student who travelled miles and left my family to study in Canada, I had struggles settling in. However, his words of encouragement helped me to see beyond my struggles and to find strength.

I would also like to express my gratitude to my advisor, Tammy Rogness, whose approachable nature created a safe and supportive environment for me to thrive. Furthermore, I want to acknowledge some of the graduate students I met during my program, namely Evans Oppong, Daniel Acheampong, Henrietta Adandom, and Ogochukwu Onyeso, who provided valuable support along the way.

Lastly, my family, friends and mentors were extremely supportive throughout my journey in graduate school.

Did you receive scholarships and awards?

I received the International School of Graduate Studies tuition award, the Jacoba VandenBrink Award and the McNally Graduate Nursing award. For an international student in Canada, these awards not only supported me financially, but served as motivation to maintain academic excellence and integrity. I was constantly motivated to put in my best work and burn the midnight candle considering how much the school invested into my education. It was my own way of reciprocating the generosity shown by the institution and funders as a student.

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

I intend to take up positions related to my line of research either in the industry or in academia. I hope that, with my work, I am able to constantly drive interventions that promote Sustainable Development Goals 3 and 5. Through my work, I hope to continue advocating for a future where women in Africa no longer have limitations in accessing preventive healthcare services.

Lastly, I intend to give back to the nursing practice. My graduate experience at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, has prepared me for service to the profession. I have started work in this area through the Focusing on Young Nurses Initiative (FYNI), a platform for mentoring young nurses. The current focus is on young nurses in Nigeria with the hope of serving young nurses in other African nations and across the globe. In doing this, I am contributing towards preserving the legacy of nursing, as well as empowering and preparing nurses to meet the evolving global demands.

What advice would you like to give those who are about to begin their journey at ULethbridge?

I advise incoming students to be RESILIENT. One of the life skills I imbibed from my parents that has shaped my mindset over the years is to have a culture of resilience. My parents would tell me ‘Dammy, never give up even if it means crawling to the finishing line.’ My time as a graduate student at the University of Lethbridge helped to reinforce this. It is important to have an open heart and to build the capacity to accommodate stress while still staying focused in pursuit of your goals.

I would also advise students to pay attention to their mental health. It is not uncommon for the road to be rough and turbulent. In my rough days, something I tell myself—which I feel students can learn from—is that ‘no one or no situation is worth my mental health.’

Lastly, as someone who considers her faith to be relevant, I advise those who are starting out to put God first and allow him to be their anchor throughout their journey. I believe God has foresight over all our experiences and can provide support in the tough days.

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