On becoming an uncle, working, graduating and parenting during a pandemic: U of T Engineering alumnus Nosa Ighodaro’s memorable final semester

Nosa Ighodaro (left) and his wife, Elizabeth Ighodaro, with their daughters (right) at Erin Mills Town Centre in Mississauga before the pandemic.

As the class of 2020 graduates amidst unprecedented times, Nosa Ighodaro shares his memorable journey to receiving his MEng this spring.

The last few weeks have been a marathon for Nosa Ighodaro (MIE MEng 2T0).

“I successfully graduated from the University of Toronto, while concurrently attending to pressures from the office and singlehandedly managing the needs of my two little daughters, and I became an uncle,” says Ighodaro. “This has definitely been an eventful final semester.”

Before his memorable final term, Ighodaro’s academic journey at U of T Engineering began two years ago. After many years working in supply chain management for a multinational manufacturing company, Ighodaro decided to pursue an master’s in engineering (MEng) to complement his professional experience and pave a clearer path for his career. He describes his time at U of T as stimulating and challenging. But it was his fifth and final semester that presented the most unexpected challenge — a pandemic.

While at U of T Engineering, Ighodaro and his wife, Elizabeth, both balanced working full–time, caring for their young daughters, and their studies, quickly settling  into a precise schedule. “It was quite hectic living in Mississauga, working in Brampton and being at the St. George campus twice a week,” says Ighodaro. “We planned our day-to-day activities down to the minute.”

When the COVID-19 crisis began in Toronto and forced city-wide shutdowns and university classes to go online, he and his family quickly needed to adjust to their new normal.

“The dynamics of our household daily operations completely changed. I started working from home and I had about one month left to complete my graduate program,” says Ighodaro. “My wife also started working from home and her school switched to online instruction. Our children were now at home with us.”

Ighodaro adapted well to working from home and completing his final courses online. “I only felt the jab when it dawned on me that I would not be feasting my eyes on the beloved U of T scenery during convocation.”

As he and his family got used to the extra time together and their new work-from-home schedule, there was another change of plans —  his brother and sister-in-law welcomed a new baby. With travel restrictions preventing overseas family from joining them, Elizabeth went to help the new parents meaning he’d have to take on full-time parenting of their two kids.

Asked if he had any advice for students who may be continuing their studies online in the fall, Ighodaro highlighted the importance of creating a work schedule, avoiding distractions and staying focused on the end result.

“It is very easy to lose drive and seriousness with online classes. Remind yourself of what lies ahead,” he says. “Students should remember that you are still learning from the prestigious and renowned U of T, just in a different way. They should know that the very best knowledge will still be dished out to them regardless of the teaching style.”

During the June 2 U of T virtual convocation ceremony, Ighodaro celebrated at home with his family and took the opportunity to virtually clink glasses with friends and family via Zoom.

Now having obtained his MEng in Industrial Engineering, Ighodaro will continue to grow in his current position, bringing his expertise and knowledge to improve company operations. He also plans to pursue a PhD in Industrial Engineering, with the goal of becoming a professor in the future. He hopes his academic pursuits will bring him back to the St. George campus he has enjoyed so much.

-Published June 24, 2020 by Lynsey Mellon, lynsey@mie.utoronto.ca


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