Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Based on a story by Perry King

SJD student Mariam Olafuyi has been awarded an emerging academic award at the third annual African Scholars Awards ceremony. 

The awards, created by the University of Toronto’s African Alumni Association, recognize the winners for their commitment to building and strengthening communities inside and outside U of T in ways that promote diversity, inclusivity and innovation. Twenty-five students, faculty, staff and alumni received awards at an event at the William Waters Lounge in Woodsworth College.

With a specialization in international trade law, Olafuyi’s thesis is focused on economic integration in Africa and the role of non-state actors like businesses and non-governmental organizations in the unification of economic policies.

Mariam Olafuyi (centre) receives her award from Iris Hategekimana, an African Alumni Association volunteer, and Kelly Hannah-Moffat (photo by Perry King)

She is also the founder of GetIn, an education consultancy firm based in Nigeria that equips young people from underrepresented backgrounds with the skills and knowledge required to access quality education. GetIn also advocates for quality education in developing countries.

She says she is passionate about academia and her growing business, although managing both requires a lot of juggling.

“I can’t see myself as a professional alone without seeing the other elements that are a part of that journey – mentoring other people, working with medical doctors and engineers. The journey in academia is similar even though the fields are different,” said Olafuyi, who at times wakes up at 5 a.m. to take calls about GetIn.

Three years into her PhD, she’s learning and growing. She is a 2018 Vanier Scholar and has earned a number of accolades, including the John Stransman Graduate Fellowship.

“I don’t know anybody who has done a PhD who says, ‘I got this, this is amazing.’ It’s a lot of ups and downs. You question your research, the quality of the work you produce.

“I’m grateful to have a supportive community – my husband, my supervisors are very supportive,” she said.