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Leading By Example

“The key to achieving diversity in STEM is not showing that STEM is easy; role models are needed to be proof that success is possible." Aduramo (Adura) Lasode

How one University of Minnesota student is using her passion for STEM education to inspire the next generation of learners

When Aduramo (Adura) Lasode decided to study mechanical engineering, she set her sights on a goal much greater than a diploma.

Growing up in Nigeria, Lasode developed an interest in her technical drawing classes where she did a manual version of computer-aided design (CAD). Fascinated by the way many small parts were pieced together to form a complex finished product; she began researching careers that would let her do such work for a living.

When she heard about the University of Minnesota from family friends who were UMN alumni, Lasode was impressed with the school’s rank among the top mechanical engineering schools in the nation and enrolled in the College of Science and Engineering in 2011. In the years since, she has made a home for herself at the University and, in turn, become invested in ensuring that other students from diverse backgrounds can share similar successes.

Lasode directed her passion for academic accessibility into her role with North Star STEM Alliance where she tutors and mentors students from diverse backgrounds. She has also served as a mentor and tutor to students at STEM Center's Prepare to NSpire program since 2013, in addition to tutoring at the University’s Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence and Harvest Prep.

A minority STEM student herself, Lasode said there are times when students can feel alone in their academic journeys due to a lack of role models in the field.

 “Many individuals from minority groups within STEM are often caught up in the cycle of facing challenge after challenge so they forget the need to inspire younger minds and encourage them to rise up to their own journey,” she said. “What better way to show something can be done than display someone who has overcome challenges to excel in the field? A role model is a living proof of possible success.”

Lasode has worked hard to be the role model she believes the field so desperately needs, while also making time for research and extracurricular activities. Whether she is working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Nanoparticle Technology Lab, serving as an International Student Ambassador, or dedicating herself to one of the professional group memberships her resume is brimming with, Lasode works hard to pave the way for other STEM students and her own future.

This work has not gone unnoticed. In 2015, Lasode received the 2015 Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Award from the UMN Office of Equity and Diversity. The award “honors and acknowledges diverse students who are doing outstanding work at the University of Minnesota, both in and out of the classroom.”

Lasode hopes her work will continue to inspire University faculty, staff, and students to provide encouragement and support to their peers who may be struggling, with a particular focus on minority students studying in STEM-related fields.

“A way for faculty, staff, and students to provide support is by expressing confidence in the ability of students to succeed. A caring approach is needed for the wellbeing of minority students, as they are mostly alone in their STEM journey.”

Lasode is also quick mention that being a mentor has benefits for both individuals. “The students boost their confidence in their ability to succeed. As a mentor, I am reassured of a brighter future of equity in STEM education. Through the impact of mentors in the lives of these students, they are empowered to mentor others in future.”

Now a senior, Lasode’s plans to continue her own STEM journey by attending graduate school, a decision she believes will help her achieve a high level of impact within the renewable energy industry. Lasode’s other long-term goals include establishing an organization that focuses on providing guidance and support for students from underrepresented backgrounds as they prepare for college.

“I believe knowledge is power and the more people from underserved backgrounds do not access that power, the more the people will be underserved in society,” Lasode said. “My dedication to the academic success of these populations gives me hope that others within the group will successfully rise in their power to positively impact their communities.”

Date Published: March 2016

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