Oluwatoyin A., 27 – FUNDED

“To make the world a better place, it starts with me” was a mantra Oluwatoyin A. repeated to herself growing up. “I envisioned becoming the change I desired to see in the world, with an aspiration to be a woman with a positive impact on society,” said this New Face of Tech winner who is originally from Lagos, Nigeria.

She aspires to be a public relations specialist, researcher, and philanthropist with a commitment to solving complex social issues in agriculture and human sciences globally. She is also passionate about promoting distinctive professional growth and development among women, youth, and children at all stages of their STEAM careers.

Oluwatoyin has a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Extension and Rural Development from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria. She is currently pursuing her master’s in Agricultural Extension and Education with an emphasis in Agricultural Communications and Leadership from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

“To better understand how women are overcoming gender-related barriers in agriculture while sustaining and enduring their well-being, I am conducting my master’s thesis on women’s livelihood diversification in agriculture,” she added. “One of my research areas includes the empowerment of women, youth, and children using technological advances and innovation.”

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

It has proven that my dreams are valid and that my passion is relevant. It gives me a sense of purpose and validation that I’m on the right path in my career. My face and voice now play a significant role in unlocking and embodying female potential. It symbolizes empowerment, unity, and the boundless greatness that emerges when women harness their full potential and use their comparative advantage for personal efficiency.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

Collaboration and partnership are necessary to shift the notion of women’s underrepresentation in STEAM fields. It necessitates distinctly unlocking and harnessing female potential from a young age. Raising awareness of the lack of representation of women in STEAM fields while providing opportunities for young girls to gain empowerment through STEAM professional development programs can help challenge stereotypes, transform the negative perception of females towards STEAM, and create a more inclusive society for current and future generations of women.

Morally upright, focused, and goal-oriented mentors and role models who have successfully shattered the glass ceiling in STEAM fields will significantly increase women’s representation in STEAM. Excellent mentoring and the effect of positive role models can reduce underrepresentation in STEAM fields while also providing opportunities and resources to continuously remind women and girls of their potential and achievable possibilities — especially when they strive towards their goals and professional advancement.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

As a female, many of the challenges I have encountered are related to social and gender issues. One of them was accepting my career path in agriculture and embracing the potential of my career field. The misconception that agriculture is only practiced by the underprivileged and uneducated in Nigeria further motivated me to pursue a master’s degree with an emphasis in agricultural communications.

I want to acquire adequate skills and expertise to play a crucial role in positively increasing the public perception of agriculture and educating the public about the significance of the agriculture industry through a variety of platforms, such as social media, traditional media, and educational campaigns.

These challenges have shaped me into who I am today and brought my career aspirations and dreams to existence.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

One of the profound ways has been through the help of God, abiding in His word, and trusting His promises for my life.

In addition, I often remind myself to stay focused on my goals by reflecting on how far I have come, my family’s unwavering belief in me, and their investment in my dreams.

My journey has also been blessed with excellent mentors, like-minded individuals, and incredible people who inspire me to pursue my goals.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

I feel honored and grateful for this win. This funding will grant me the financial ability to alleviate college costs and maintain my focus on achieving my academic goals for the spring semester. HARMAN’s mentorship and guidance will provide me with valuable real-life insight and help me build a network of like-minded individuals who will significantly empower and advance me toward achieving my goal.