Eugenia Duodu was discouraged from pursuing her love for science and maths during her teens.
But she held on to her passion and at age 31, she is already the CEO of a company using the two subjects to impact lives in Toronto, Canada.
Born to Ghanaian parents, the PhD holder in Chemistry from the University of Toronto was advised by her tutors to let go of her dream of becoming a science enthusiast at the university and consider cosmetology.
Recounting one of such engagements with her counselors, she told The Globe and Mail: “To be honest, I can never say for sure, but I do know the conversation made me feel like maybe I was wrong; maybe I couldn’t do it.”
Looking back, the CEO of Visions of Science, an outfit using STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – to assist less privileged children and youth, has no regrets.
As the only child, she has always seen her mother as her role model.
“She trained me,” she said of her mom – a single-parent. Duodu stressed her mother has always backed her dream, despite the discouragements.
“I never approached school thinking it was too hard for me. It wasn’t always an easy journey in the school system. I struggled with perceptions of myself, never sure I was good enough,” she continued with her narration to The Globe and Mail.
Duodu soldiered on and after a stint with a summer mentorship program at the University of Toronto for students of black origin, she was convinced the future is science.
Having acquired her PhD in Chemistry, a highly positive and confident Dr Duodu says she is “comfortable with who I am, what I’ve gone through.”
“I know that I’m the real deal,” a fulfilled Duodu continued with The Globe and Mail.
Her dream is to push the youth, especially girls to develop an interest in STEM. The young mentor is using her charity, running on a $1-million annual budget with 120 volunteers, to support at least 700 youth from Grades 3 to 12.
Duodu now beams with smiles for not relenting on her dream. “We’re seeing incredible outcomes. Science on a fundamental level is about critical thinking. We need youth to not be afraid to go through that process.”
And to the upcoming ones who love STEM but feel like giving up, here is her advice: “You are here; you deserve to be here; just claim your place.”
Watch a video of Dr. Duodu sharing her life story at TEDxToronto in 2017: