It is another Konnect Africa Interview and today, we present to you a sterling and shining asset to the African Continent, a Professor, a Global Speaker, an Entrepreneur, a Philanthropist, a Leadership Expert, an amazing young Nigerian woman, who is championing the empowerment of the women and many other humanitarian initiatives. Her name – Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede.
She spoke to Konnect Africa.Net and shared with us her perspectives on a number of issues. Read on and be inspired…
Who is Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede? Family, ethnicity, education, hobbies…
Yetunde Is a first generation, Nigerian-American, born in New Jersey US to Nigerian parents. Attended Rutgers University for her undergraduate and graduate schooling. I am a graduate of United Nations Worldview Institute, Eagleton Institute of Politics and New Leaders Council. I received her master’s degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in International Law and completing my doctoral degree from Rutgers University. I received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Media Studies with a double minor in Organizational Leadership and Africana Studies from Rutgers University. I love to read, write, collect inspirational quotes, speak to people, teach, mentor and listen to uplifting sermons and music.
At such a young age, you are Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs. How did you achieve this feat?
Education is an important priority to me. My areas of expertise are areas in which I am highly interested in which has influenced my career and personal goals. In my years of schooling, I have had only one African-American women as a professor. For me, pursuing higher education was a personal reason as well as a professional one. I now have students that come up to me and still say, “Wow, this is the first time that I have ever had a black woman as a professor.” I hope that my presence encourages my students to view the possibilities of pursuing higher education. It’s not an easy feat but you have to have the mind, passion and perseverance you can achieve it.
You are an advocate for women empowerment. Why is your focus on women?
I am an advocate for women empowerment because I believe that we need more young women in positions of leadership. That’s not to say that I do not support the personal and professional development of all people… However, statistically, women in leadership positions across the board in various sectors are still low. Young girls and women stay face persecution for pursing an education in various parts of the world, they face child marriage, honor killings, unjust patriarchal based laws, domestic violence and more. I believe if we continue to work on gender equality, that is the vehicle to empowering all people.
The missing Chibok Girls in Northern Nigeria is a subject you are passionate about. What is your recipe for solving this big problem?
It’s not an easy and straightforward answer due to the complexity of the issue at hand. What I can say is that the Nigerian government needs to make combating Boko Haram a number one priority. The missing Chibok Girls in Northern Nigeria is a result of the lack of protection for people and young girls in Northern Nigeria for years. Every Nigerian, whether man or woman, young or old should be able to feel safe, protected and valued in their country. Nigeria must make it their priority to ensure the protection of it’s citizens against all shapes and forms of terrorism.
Your book recently hit the market. It is titled – Young Woman’s Guide. Tell us about it and the inspiration behind it.
I wrote this a book to serve as a guide for young woman as they journey through womanhood. Young Woman’s Guide is a self-help inspirational book that offers tips, tools and advice on how young woman from all backgrounds can put their best self forward. As the Founder of Young Woman’s Guide, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides leadership development for young from all background. This book is a reflection of our values and mission.
For those interested in getting a copy of your book, how/where can they get it?
You can order on www.amazon.com from all of its worldwide sites, online book stores and selected book stores. You can also order the kindle version for smart phones and devices on amazon.com as well. The book is also available on my website at www.yetundeodugbesan.com
Your life mission is to pay it forward. What does this mean?
I have been blessed with great people, great opportunities and overall a great life and I want to be able to be a blessing to others. The way that I express gratitude is by giving and be a source of goodness to someone else.
You lend yourself to several philanthropic and humanitarian initiatives. What are the challenges you have encountered on this journey?
Many of the philanthropic and humanitarian initiatives that I lend myself to, I am really passionate about. I believe the challenges that I face is wanting to do more and more and being content in my capacity to give.
As a Professor, an Author, a Global Speaker, an Entrepreneur, a Philanthropist, a Leadership Expert and a Wife, how are you able to establish a good balance? How do you ensure you continually deliver top-quartile performance on all fronts?
And a Mother! I find balance because I love what I do and these roles come naturally to me and are a part of who I am. I embrace all facets of who I am and nurture each role.
Africa has the youngest population in the world and this presents a serious challenge as well as enormous opportunities. How can African youths seize the opportunities being presented?
There are opportunities all around us. Even in situations that appear to be dire, an opportunity still exists. African youths are extremely entrepreneurial, innovate and brilliant. We are seeing a surge of tech start-ups and businesses that are creatively addressing many of the issues affecting Africans. If an opportunity does not present itself, then make one. Start a business, a non-profit, tech; start-up whatever it is. Create an opportunity out of your passion.
Corruption thrives in Africa. From your rich knowledge of Global Affairs, what can be done to stem this evil tide?
In order to mitigate and reduce the levels of corruption, we have address the socialization and normalization of corruption. We must first understand how corruption has become a normal deviant behavior in some societies. Some reform options are paying civil servants appropriately so that there is no incentive or motive to supplement their income. Governments must be transparent in budget processes and also reduce the amount of bureaucratic red tape. Federal allocations and awarding of governmental contracts must be transparent and accounted for. There should be a greater transparency in allocation of resources. Complete transparency in the licensing process of oil blocks, iron ore blocks, spectrum allocation, would reduce chances of corruption at macro level.
Institutions of education must uphold strong codes of ethics systems as to not perpetuate corrupt acts or the acceptance of it. Also, rules and judicial systems need to make it a priority to prosecute both the bribe-taker and bribe-giver. And last but not least, investing into e-governance and new technology.
How do you think Africans in the Diaspora can make a positive difference back home?
By also returning back home to invest and start businesses. As well as speaking up against various injustices in their respective countries. Its also important to encourage young people in the diaspora to have stronger connections with where they come from
Racism is often an issue with Africans living abroad. What is your take on the subject?
Racism is still apparent however I do not let the idea or presence of racism affect my confidence in my ability to continue to be a success. I do not have an inferiority complex, I do not focus on my skin color as a barrier and I do not feel inferior to anyone because of my skin color. I have always lived my life that if you work hard and chase your dreams, you can achieve your goals. However I am not blind to the various racial injustices that happens here in US and in other parts of the world.
In a short time, you have experienced so much and made a lot of impact. What was the biggest lesson you have learnt so far?
Be yourself. Work hard. Believe in your abilities. Pay it forward. Live out your passions and your purpose. Not everyone will like you…so what.
Where do you see Yetunde Odugbesan 5 years from now?
Writing more books, having my own TV show, still being a loving mother, wife, sister and friend, still being a business woman, professor and ascending to various leadership positions. In five years, I hope to still be Yetunde but 100 times better!
So many. Most importantly, my mother. I am grateful to all of my mentors who paved the way and groomed to become the woman I am today.
There is an African Youth out there who has lost all hope about the actualization of his/her dreams. Inspire this person in a sentence.
Nobody said pursuing your purpose was easy but I will tell you it will be worth your while. You are here on this earth for a God-given reason…and God plans to do something through you. Hold on!
Many thanks Yetunde.
You can connect with Yetunde on Twitter @yetundeo, on Instagram @iamyetunde, and on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/yetundeodugbesan. Her website is www.yetundeodugbesan.com
Please find below her upcoming event. Be there.