How to School in the USA as a Nigerian: It was 2018, I was in a construction company in Lekki trying to eke out a living for myself and my beautiful daughter whose cost of the school kept skyrocketing.
On top of that, I desire to start a family and most of the ladies I kept meeting couldn’t understand my vision and drive. I was disenchanted and doubly frustrated with my career and life as a whole.
As a single dad, it wasn’t easy. I have to pay for accommodation, transportation and my meals (which was irregular and not too decent). At some point I could not pay for my accommodation, I had to “squat” with a cousin at Sangotedo, Lagos, Nigeria. My life kept spinning out of my control. I was thoroughly frustrated with my life.
Despite being multi-talented, as I sing, write songs, play guitar, write poems and novels and good at contract management and branding, yet, nothing seems to be popping for me. I prayed, I cried silent tears. I was betrayed many times by those who I thought loved me and I love and respect. I was not deterred regardless of the prevailing circumstance.
Towards the middle of August 2018, I co-founded a real estate properties development and investment company with five other young professionals with the aim of providing affordable housing units for the middle class and the poor using advance technology and futuristic models.
This vision was instilled in me because of my accommodation woes and I do not want anyone to suffer my fate ever again. One of my life’s project and vision was to lead the team that will build the smartest (using A.I and the internet of things) paradise-like city in the world in Nigeria, Africa. Those were the vision that kept me awake, grinding, believing, moving and rolling with the punches unfazed in the malignant clime of Nigeria socioeconomic and political cancerous growth.
How to school in the USA as a Nigerian
My music and poems have always been my escape, the solace I found in the midst of my financial, relationship, career, and national turmoil.
As much as I can, I try to get involved in things that can change the trajectory of my life and others. I enroll for computer certifications on Siitgo and few other learning platforms.
Armed with my guitar and my vocals, I sing in churches and concerts in Lagos. One of the most memorable of such occasions was when I sang at Surulere at the church of the renowned gospel artist, Pastor Wale Adenuga (who was featured in Olowogbogboro, a sensational gospel song written and ministered by Nathaniel Bassey).
I penned down on paper and on my mind a lot of songs, poems & novels (unpublished), movie scripts (idea stage) and dreamt of acting in top-grossing Hollywood movies, performing my songs in Central Park, New York City, USA and even in the moon one day.
I volunteered for STEMHub Foundation, an international organization which was more like an NGO that helps to promote STEM-related disciple among the under-represented people of the third world and the girl child.
The experience gave me an avenue to put some of my ideas to work. Also after reading the story of the founder, Dr. Adeola Olubamiji, who went from hawking pepper on the street of Ibadan to schooling in Tampere, Finland, then graduating top of her class as the first black female to achieve that feat from the Biotech department at University of Saskatchewan, Canada, I felt the nudge in my spirit to shake off my perceived limitations and go for my dream which is to study in a world-renowned university in either Canada or United States of America.
I sat for the GRE exam after my brother who resides in the US advised me to do so. I studied every day like a maniac off the heat of the project site at MegaMounds estate where I was helping with the development of residential projects as a site superintendent and project estimator.
I took at least 3 hours every day to study and work tirelessly at mastering the trick of acing the GRE examination.
I did not attend any classes, I just read, read, practice problems and self-grade.
I kept track of my progress.
I made sure I registered for the exam before starting to read. That kind of helped me to give it all the fight in me and it paid off.
When the result was communicated, I scored 304 out of a total of 348 possible score. I was ecstatic. I beat the cut-off mark, 290, required to get admission into the school of my dream, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States.
Prior to this, I have previously applied for a Post Graduate program at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec.
Although the school granted me admission and the province of Quebec grant me access (Certificat du acceptance), Canada immigration office denied me Visa.
I spent all my savings on this venture and it was really painful to have lost this opportunity because the embassy claimed I do not have travel history; my purpose of travel was not satisfactory for them, even when it was obvious it was for academic reason and they claim my funding was not sufficient, even when I have documents showing proof of #3,500,000 in my account and paid study leave from my current job.
I was perplexed, but my brother in the US told me not to give up or be broken by the painful outcome of my efforts to study abroad at the time. He told me God might just be setting me up for something better. And indeed He was.
I shook off my disappointment and after two and half months of preparation, I took the GRE exam and applied to Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; Texas A&M University, Kingsville, Texas; University of Florida, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida; Columbia University, New York and Lamar University.
Of all the schools I applied to, three schools gave me admission: Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; Texas A&M University, Kingsville, Texas and the University of Florida.
I did not follow through with the Lamar University because the other top universities were already extending me juicy offers.
My GRE score, statement of purpose, my second class upper undergrad CGPA, pro-activeness in the application process (by gathering useful information from faculty members from intending schools; friends and family from Nigeria studying abroad and using google and Youtube to my advantage) and trusting God completely were instrumental to my success.
Before leaving Nigeria, I got a scholarship from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. Chiefly because I asked the chair of admission (Professor Phil Lewis) and because he is very kind, forthright and understanding man, I got the scholarship without any ado.
Like the Oliver Twist that I am, I asked for Teaching Assistant-ship opportunity after gaining the scholarship and I was hired on the spot on my first day in school.
I was hired by Professor Eldemiro Escamilla, a friendly, smiling, kind and fatherly professor from the department. It was unbelievable. It was just sheer favor and preparation.
Since then, it has been one scholarship after the other for excellence and outstanding professional integrity, an excellent internship with the best Silicon Valley construction company, Katerra Inc at the Carrollton office and later in Austin(Katerra is HQ at Menlo, Park, California aka Silicon Valley).
I was able to learn a lot (professional skills; interactive skills: vertical and horizontal communication within the organogram of the company; the use of software for project management- Bluebeam, Apollo Construct – engineered and owned by Katerra Inc, Material App, ADP, Workday, Facebook Workforce, Adobe Captivate, Microsoft Office 365, professional use of LinkedIn, BIM 360 etc; supply chain management; spatial analysis and management of project sites; safety management; construction data management and so on).
In the cause of my internship, I won the first week of the highly contested and coveted Construction Intern Awards 2019, People’s Choice Category. It was organized for all interns in the fifty states of America. That shot me to limelight within Katerra, the construction industry cycle and all over America.
This is just the beginning of something great.
I do not believe I have arrived, in fact I am still in training, under the tutelage of great mentors and role models which God keep thrusting my way.
It is worthy of note that I connected with my cousin, Adedayo Ajayi, through his big brother, Mr. Teju Ajayi, the Nigerian socialite and popular CEO (Architect) of The Architecture Place (TAP), who happens to design and build King Wasiu Ayinde Marshal’s mansion in Abeokuta. Adedayo Ajayi aka Dplus is one of the top producers and keyboardist for Frank Edwards and Adah (Moses) Ehi.
We are currently working on a project at the moment which will help me launch into the music industry with my single, “Şe Rere”, a song which has become an anthem in the mouth of almost everyone who has ever heard it performed by me, either live or on my social media platforms.
I will leave everyone with this, “Prepare your seeds off the field, go to the field singing and hopeful and plant with skill and grit, then you will rejoice at your stupendous harvest. Whatever you want to do, put God first, let Him be your guiding star; your constant inspiration; find yourself a humble mentor (who will not compete with you and will honestly open up to you.
That is the only way to learn faster and grow quickly into your future. You’ll automatically inherit is wealth of experience, travels, interactions and books he has read); love people and promote them in whatever they do (as you help others succeed, you will become successful); identify a global/local problem you are gifted to solve, then train yourself every waking moment to solve it; collaborate – it’s the best way to reach your endpoint faster; learn from your mistakes; compete with your previous achievements and outdo them; never compare your life with others; be proud of the unique deposit of God’s gifts in your life; gifts are not enough, become skillful and strategic with your gifts and implement ideas that can solve problems. Always pen down your goals, break it down to simple action plans and constantly review against your end goal and as you implement them. Your success is certain.”
Nothing is impossible for those who dare and never quit. Go out to gig’em! Carpe diem!