In celebration of Black History Month, the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science invited members of the Memorial University chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers to share some insights on their academic experiences.
Meet Ogheneovo Jatto from Nigeria. Ms. Jatto is a fifth-year electrical engineering student.
JL: Why did you choose Memorial University for your undergraduate engineering studies?
OJ: I love the co-op program Memorial engineering offers engineering students. I believed the opportunity would be great. I loved the chance to move to a new environment and meet new people with different cultures. I also liked the affordability of the tuition.
JL: Tell us about your background before coming to Memorial for your undergraduate engineering studies.
OJ: Prior to joining Memorial engineering, I knew about coding but I was never interested and I did not think I would find myself doing it. My first year at Memorial was the first time I learned programming. I did not enjoy it because it was challenging and coupled with the other courses I was taking I did not have much time to practise. That is when my interest in programming piqued, and I started learning it in my spare time. I always had engineering in mind but not electrical engineering. I wanted to be an aerospace engineer, but Memorial does not have that option and in my first year I grew to love the electrical engineering courses, so I chose that major. When it came to working with my hands, I was the last person to look at, but since coming to university I have grown to like hands-on activities.
JL: What advice would you give your first-year self when you began studying engineering?
OJ: To not let anyone discourage you and to do anything you want. If you believe you have the abilities, go for it, and even if you do not have the abilities and want to try it out, you should still go for it!
JL: What do you appreciate most about the engineering program at Memorial?
OJ: I love the co-op program that the school offers. We gain work experience before graduating, which gives us a good starting point when applying for full-time jobs after graduation. I like that the professors are approachable if you have any concerns.
JL: What are some challenges you have faced and how have you overcome those challenges?
OJ: It was challenging getting work terms, especially my first one. I had a lot of disadvantages. Some people already had a first work term. I did not have any experience working because of where I came from, and some jobs only accepted permanent residents or Canadian citizens. This already puts me way at the back of the line. When I realized this, I started going to the co-op office to ask for help. I also checked every possible place to search for jobs, reached out to people on LinkedIn and attended workshops to make connections with people.
JL: What suggestions do you have for Memorial Engineering to help improve the experiences of Black engineering students?
OJ: I believe if the engineering faculty can further help us with work-terms applications, it can help to bridge the gap that we have with other students.