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Our Unsung Heroes; Meet Wendy Okolo – The Nigerian Engineer Making Waves In The Diaspora

As the header has it, Our Unsung Heroes. Today we take a look into the life of a sister who is making it big, defying the odds and setting the pace outside the borders of our beautiful motherland, Africa. Many are our brothers and sisters in the diaspora who are making a difference and helping clear a lot of misconceptions many ignorant westerners have about Africa and its people. Some of which include; Africa is a land of inferior minds, a land with no civilization and history, etc.

Even though the World at large is failing to speak about them because they are not westerners, it does not mean we should also not talk about them. People of her caliber are making Africa proud, and they deserve every bit of praise and recognition for their hard work and successes.

Dr. Wendy Okolo is a Nigerian who lived most of her young ages in Nigeria. She gained her WASSCE (West African Secondary School Certificate Examination) Certificate at Queen’s College, Lagos- Nigeria. She then attended the University of Texas, where she gained a Bachelor’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering as of 2010. After her Bachelor’s Degree honor, she furthered her chase for a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas in 2015. It must, however, be noted that she is the first Black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, and she achieved that at the age of 26. A fantastic achievement for such a beautiful and intelligent woman.

Read: How a Ghanaian whizkid is tackling COVID-19 using technology

In an interview, she gave recognition to her sisters who in one way or the other contributed to building up her desire for the sciences. She said, “My sisters taught me the sciences with their day-to-day realities.” To add up, she said, “They are my heroes.” Dr. Okolo already has 13 publications in aircraft engineering and speaks four different languages.

In 2019, Dr. Wendy Okolo was conferred with the ‘2019 Most Promising Engineer in Government Award’ at the BEYA (Black Engineer of the Year Awards) STEM Conference in Washington, D. C.

Dr. Wendy Okolo with her award for been the ‘Most Promising Engineer in Government’

However, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Dr. Okolo is a Special Emphasis Programmes Manager in the Intelligent Systems Division at Ames. She also doubles as a Research Engineer in the Discovery and Systems Health Technology.

Before I end, I will like to showcase her achievements so far. However, the most exciting thing about all that she has done and achieved as a young black aerospace engineer is that she has done all of that under the 30 years. Yes, 30 years. Isn’t it beautiful? Her Achievements include;

  • Amelia Earhart Fellowship (2012) 
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship (2012) 
  • AIAA John Leland Atwood Graduate Award (2013) 
  • BEYA Global Competitiveness Conference Award (2019) – The Most Promising Engineer in the United States government.
  • Women in Aerospace Award (2019) – Initiative, Inspiration, & Impact
  • NASA Ames Early Career Researcher Award (2019)
  • University of Texas at Arlington Distinguished Recent Graduate Award (2019)

People of her kind keep proving to the world that the black woman is also capable of reaching any height, and that there is no field of knowledge too complicated for an African to excel in, including the rocket sciences.

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