Being an Engineer Means Making People's Lives Better

One student's journey from Nigeria to Minnesota and beyond ...

Strategy and Strength|Aug.25, 2019

Jomi Babatunde-Omoya, a 16-year-old Abbott Engineering Intern, has always loved math and science. When her 5th grade class went on a field trip to a local college and shadowed engineering students, she realized it was possible to build a career following her passions. After spending the day learning the importance of engineering and participating in problem-solving exercises, she was hooked. But there was one problem that stopped her from thinking of this profession as her future, "I thought engineering was something that white men did," Jomi said.

Jomi's journey from her native Nigeria to that day had not always been an easy one. Her parents, both successful in scientific fields in their home country, felt that they needed to raise their daughter in the U.S. to afford her the advanced education she would need for a career that allowed her to work anywhere in the world. The family moved to Minnesota when Jomi was 4-years-old and the changes were immediate. "I came from an area where everyone looked like me, sounded like me, to here where everyone treated me differently because they didn’t know much about me or where I came from," Jomi said. "A lot of times I felt looked down upon, or dumber, because I came from another country. I wasn't picked for classroom groups. Because people just didn’t know."

Over time, however, her teachers started to notice and believe in her and her talents. By the start of middle school, she was determined to sharpen her math and science skills. "My favorite part of school was getting a problem and working in a group to find a solution," Jomi said. She continued to concentrate on improving her STEM skills as she entered high school even though she still believed that engineering careers were limited to the types of people she had met on her field trip years earlier.

Being an Engineer Means Making People’s Lives Better

All of that changed when she was 15. She began studying with a college prep class tutor who shared her enthusiasm for engineering because he was an engineer himself. "He worked with me not to pass a test, but because he wanted me to ‘get it’ so I would look forward to learning more and incorporating it into my career," Jomi explained. The final piece was put in place when a group of African-American bio-medical engineers came to her college prep class. "They explained what they did, how they got into it and their values seemed similar to mine. They showed me that someone who looked like me could do the job," she said.

A year later, Jomi is pursuing her dream as a Bio-medical Engineering Intern at Abbott. To her, being an engineer means making people’s lives better on a day-to-day basis, trusting in herself and others to, "make the world a better place. I definitely want to have a career where I can go around the world and help people in other countries and places not as fortunate as where I live."