Rebecca Oluwaponmile: Youth development strategist with far-reaching accomplishments

Rebecca Oluwaponmile: Youth development strategist with far-reaching accomplishments

Rebecca Oluwaponmile, 23, Nigeria

Una well done o! (Greetings in Nigerian pidgin). My name is Oluwaponmile Rebecca, fondly referred to as Rebs. I am a 23-year-old Information Resources Management graduate of Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria. I currently work with the Leadership Empowerment and Resource Network (LEARN) as a librarian and assistant project officer. I humbly refer to myself as a Youth Development Strategist and I will tell you why.

During my first year in university, my lecturer and course adviser, Dr. Evans C. Otuza, started a discussion after one of our lectures on how frustrated he was about the lives of the Nigerian youth. He was frustrated about the educational system and unemployment after college. I remember asking him what he was doing to better the situation since obviously he is also in the educational system. He looked at me and said, “I am stirring up a fire in you to make that change happen.” Since then, I’ve been working in the capacity of child and youth development, education and empowerment.

I worked as a resident assistant in Crystal Hall. My job was basically to make sure that both old and new students settled in without complaints or problems with the facilities. I took this job believing that it would give me access to fellow students, to allow me share their grievances, encourage and even help them in whatever capacity I could. Soon, while on the job, there were calls from the student association for students to run for political posts. You guessed wrong. I didn't run. Yes. I was financially disabled. But, I didn’t let that stop me from volunteering to be the campaign manager for a friend who was running. She won. We won. I graduated from Babcock University in 2015.

In Nigeria, it is compulsory for every graduate below age 30 to serve our dear country. Other graduates and I, posted to Oyo State, were camped at Iseyin, my mother’s hometown, for 21 days. We had to wake up at 4 a.m. to start preparations for the day. Military drilling always starts before 6 a.m. (We had to wake Nigeria up at 6 a.m.) I was part of the marching group, martial arts, Man O War and also worked with the seminar coordinator, Mrs. Aisha Mohammed. After 21 day, I received my posting letter and was so grateful to have been posted to Ibadan North Local Government to be a teacher at St. Louis Grammar School, Mokola, Ibadan. I then joined the NEMA Vanguard for Community Development Service (CDS).

I had a memorably great experience teaching, motivating over 500 girl-students. I was assigned to teach them computer studies without computers (I had to write computer programs on a chalkboard, a chalkboard!) Soon, 12 months were over and I would miss my Ibadan and NYSC family.

I got employed to work with LEARN as a librarian and now double as a junior project officer. Here, I get to work with children, pre-teens, teenagers, youths and adults — both women and men — in different facets. While making sure that books in the library are well cataloged and easily accessible to library users, I also coordinate and monitor new and existing programs and projects like Indigent Scholarships, Entrepreneurship Trainings, Leadership Trainings, Training the Trainers, Summer School, Professionals Training Series and Time out with the Youth, among others. I enjoy working here because I get to meet people, listen to them and offer them help and solutions for a better life.

I like to work with the United Nations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

I look forward to meeting other young and distinguished minds, especially from Africa.

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