Can a mother succeed in the academic world? Who should attain more degrees in academics, the man or the wife? Let’s ask our mother.
Can we meet you ma?
I am Oladunni S. Okunade. I graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 2010 and 2014 respectively from the Department of Industrial and Production Engineering, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
I am an SAP Certified Application Associate in Business Process Integration with SAP ERP 6.0 EhP7, a member of SAP-University Alliances Network and a corporate member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a registered Engineer with Council for Regulations of Engineering.
I received Erasmus +ICT grant funding for Ph.D. research at Birmingham City University, UK and Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania.
I currently lecture in the Department of Industrial and Production Engineering, University of Ibadan and my research interest is in the use of operations research and management tools to solve societal problems.
I am married to Mr Seun Okunade and we are blessed with children.
What has your journey been like in the academic world?
The journey in the academics has been both interesting and challenging. I can say the journey in the academic began some years back when I made up my mind against all opposition to pursue a university degree. My reason then was that I wanted to be lecturer.
After my first degree, I returned for a Master programme and the doctoral degree which is still in view. As a Master student, I assisted in taking tutorial for a course in my department. I later got employed in my department. Academics involves teaching and research, coupled with administrative and community service. Balancing research with teaching is key to be a success in the academia. So progress actually lies in balancing research and teaching.
You are being projected and known as a scholar via your research output and teaching also is essential in imparting knowledge to your students. In order to be a trustworthy academia, there must be a balance between the two and this makes academics demanding and challenging.
Why did you choose this path?
It has been a passion I have nursed since my days in the Polytechnic as a student.
As a mother what has been your greatest challenge in the academic world?
My greatest challenge is work & life balance. Balancing your work schedules in terms of teaching, research, administrative and students’ advisor tasks with life is a real challenge for me. Sometimes, I broke down when I found out that I have given too much time to my work at the expense of myself, family, socials and the likes.
What I have learnt is to have a work-plan for all my activities and make a deliberate effort to do what I have planned although this doesn’t work all the times. Also, to create time to relax.
Ultimately, I have learnt to commit my life and work to God and trusting in His grace to help me achieve my plans.
As mothers, when is the best time to begin this journey and where should it end?
A career in the academics should begin now for those who already have the plan, whether you are in undergraduate or at the postgraduate level. Research is key in the academia.
Learn the rudiments of researching by reading and mentorship. Learn the arts of academic writing and self-development.
Undergraduate students can plan for graduate studies and what it requires, depending on where they want to have it whether home or abroad. You can start now if you have the passion. The journey does not have an end in terms of knowledge production once there is breath. Stop making excuses for yourself.
Who should have the most academic qualification, the husband or wife?
Academic qualification should depend on their pursuit but it is good that the husband and wife grow together in their respective career and this may require further degrees or professional certifications.
To answer your question, what is vital is the understanding and support of both parties. The husband and wife are not competitors in any way, they are meant to complement one another; their career pursuit may determine their qualification. Let me cite this instance, from my personal experience.
My husband and I are pursuing a career in academics, my husband permitted me to register for Ph.D. degree first, and that has not changed and will not change anything.
As a wife, you must submit to your husband if you have more qualification than him or you are better placed. The qualification does not change or determine the organogram of the home. Having a higher qualification as a wife does not make you the head of your home.
A woman that will not submit to her husband because of her academic qualification has not encountered Jesus Christ. A regenerated woman will submit to her husband no matter her qualification.
For mothers interested in this area, how can they begin?
Have a first degree if you don’t have it yet and pursue a master degree and other skills required for research.
BE FOCUSED and DETERMINED to pursue your dreams. It is not too late; you can start now. You can do it.
A word for mothers out there
Your home is your ministry and it must be given utmost priority. Your husband and children are the ministry God gave to you when you got married. Your success in this ministry determines your altitude and your future.
Faithfulness in this will determine whether God will commit other things in your care or not. Building a relationship with our husbands, having time to train and nurture our children in the way of the Lord is key to the fulfilment of our purpose in life. No matter how highly placed a woman can be, failing at home is tantamount to failing in other areas.
Pursuing a career and other ministerial work should be secondary.
A wise woman builds her home; but a foolish one destroys it.
How can we contact you on social media for more advice and information?
facebook.com/ogunmola.o.sarah and on IG @ oladunniokunade.
Thank you so much ma.