Breaking Barriers: A Mother’s Journey in Engineering Academia, Dr. Chioma Violet Oleka.

In the world of academia, the journey of a woman in engineering is often marked by hurdles and challenges. Now, imagine adding the responsibilities of motherhood to that equation. Meet Dr. Chioma Violet Oleka a trailblazer who has defied the odds to pursue her passion for engineering while balancing the demands of motherhood. Delve into her inspiring story, exploring the triumphs, struggles, and invaluable lessons she has learned along the way. Join us as we uncover the extraordinary journey of a woman who is not only excelling in her career but also paving the way for the next generation of mothers in STEM.

What is your name?

Dr. (Mrs.) Chioma Violet Oleka

Which STEM i.e. ICT, Biology, Robotics, Engineering, Academia, Science etc.

Robotics, Engineering and Academia

What/Who inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?

I have love for practical things and always love to solve a problem through ideas.

Could you share a brief overview of your journey in the STEM field?

My journey through STEM field was filled with challenges and victory afterwards, I dropped out of school when my mother fell in the farm, I resumed from year one when my colleagues were already in final year. I was working and schooling . I graduated in 2006 from the department of Computer Engineering, got married immediate after school. I started my masters when my first son was seven months old. Perseverance was my watch word. At a point I was carrying my little boy with pregnancy during the Masters but I was determined to catch up with my mates. My second son came in the week of my thesis defense, I moved against all odds to that defense and graduated. Determination and Perseverance was guiding me. I became a lecturer in ESUT Enugu after two months on graduating. I picked up a PhD form immediately but the challenges of that one was simply worrisome. I had four miscarriages , I wrote my PhD exams while having one of the miscarriages but the beauty was that the challenges was not affecting my grade. I was dogged and relentless against the rides and waves of life until I graduated as a Doctorate degree holder. I decided to replicate what I passed through when I won STEM champion from IEEE Try engineering. Presently I hold programmes for girls in rural areas to tell them my story and encourage them to go into STEM because of new technologies and the opportunities in STEM related courses. So far it has been amazing raising my children with my husband and pursuing my career as an Academia, as an Engineer and finally as a STEM champion reaching out to the next generations and their parents.

How has motherhood impacted your career journey in STEM?

Motherhood has impacted me to strive to live an exemplary life for my children to emulate. When I look around and see them learning from me. I strive harder to be the best.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a mother in the STEM industry?

The main problem I faced was time factor. Trying to get your career on top with paying attention as a wife and mother. I tried to shift my own issues towards the midnight when they are all asleep.

What support systems or resources have helped you navigate the challenges you faced being a mother in STEM?

The main support system, that has helped me is partnership with my husband and mentorship from my elder sister Dr. Chinwe Chigbo and my mother Dr Chinenye Okoye.

In what ways can the STEM industry better support and accommodate mothers?

Giving mother’s opportunities to improve themselves like short courses especially the ones involving upskilling.

How can we (mothers already in STEM) encourage more mothers and aspiring mothers pursue and thrive in STEM careers?

It is achievable to combine the two. The only thing is setting ones goal and defining them to suit both Career Path and motherhood.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to pursue careers in STEM while also planning to become mothers?

They should please go ahead it is possible with the right partner and mentors around.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience as a mother in STEM?

To any body ascribing to go into STEM while being a mother, you can go ahead. The two can be done without issues.

Join our women in STEM network today and make a difference by mentoring an aspiring woman in STEM

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