#IAmNYAS: NseAbasi NsikakAbasi Etim
Academy Member NseAbasi NsikakAbasi Etim, PhD is promoting science beyond boundaries. Read on to learn about her work in our virtual mentoring programs.
Published October 27, 2017
Each mentor in our network has their own personal reasons for giving back. For Academy Member NseAbasi NsikakAbasi Etim, PhD, serving as a mentor in our virtual programs fulfils her dream of contributing to the success of science around the world. A busy lecturer and researcher at Akwa Ibom State University in Nigeria, Dr. Etim makes the time to mentor multiple students in our virtual programs designed to advance young women’s pursuit of STEM careers. Her dedication to her mentees is remarkable and requires coordination across multiple time zones (not to mention persevering through power and internet outages which, she reports, are quite common in her country). What makes it all worth it? Knowing that her mentees are inspired and fulfilled.
We recently caught up with Dr. Etim at the 2017 Global STEM Alliance Summit, where she met some her virtual mentees in person for the first time. Read on to learn more about Dr. Etim and her inspiring work in the Academy’s mentoring programs.
Tell us about the path that led you to where you are today?
I have always had a strong passion for the development of my nation [Nigeria] and the world at large through discoveries, inventions, and empirical research that can solve both national and international problems. This led me to choose my science education and career.
I have wanted to be a scientist since my childhood because I love everything about science—the discoveries and inventions, the ability of scientists to proffer solutions to real life problems. I love that science is able to unravel mysteries. I love the fact that science is everywhere: in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe, and the way our body works. Science is a tool that has been able to serve humanity and the universe as a whole.
What projects are you currently working on?
I, along with the other members of my research team, am currently investigating the physiological responses of Oryctolagus cuniculus (rabbits) to Justicia schimperi (hunters weed) which is a forage commonly consumed by animals as well as humans. This research is led by a renowned professor of Veterinary Medicine, Prof. Jarlath Udoudo Umoh. We want to examine the effect of consuming this forage on rabbit growth, blood profile, and organs in order to ascertain its safety. We also want to determine whether the forage is a growth-promoting agent and whether it has adverse effect on reproduction.
I was also recently nominated by the Academy and was selected to participate in the 14th Annual Meeting of the STS forum in Kyoto, Japan, as part of their Future Leaders Network and their Dialogue Between Future Leaders and Nobel Laureates. I joined other outstanding scientists, industrialists, and policy makers in an exchange of ideas on how to strengthen the success of science and technology and how to bring lasting solutions to the problems that arise from the application of science and technology. Together, we brainstormed how to strengthen the lights and control the shadows of science and technology.
Have you ever encountered any roadblocks along the way?
Coming from a developing country, I have encountered too many obstacles in the course of pursuing my career. These range from financial constraints, inadequate research equipment or facilities, and a lack of mentors to guide me and expose me to opportunities earlier in life.
I have also encountered poor power and water supply as well as a lack of internet connectivity. And, even though the successes of the few resilient and resolute scientists do benefit society, many scientists are neither applauded nor celebrated.
All this would have been enough to extinguish my passion but I still forge ahead towards my goal of becoming a great scientist.
What do you do for fun?
When I am not working, I love watching movies and reading novels. I also love singing and dancing.
Why do you mentor with the Academy?
I choose to mentor with the Academy in their Next Scholars and 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures programs because I want to live my dream of contributing to the success of science globally. I wanted to actualize and hone my inborn mentoring skills and to be the mentor that I did not have.
I want to be a part of the success stories of the next generation of scientists; to inspire and motivate them towards becoming the future of science. I also want to provide proper career guidance to the students in the Academy. I want to train, advise and guide the students to develop self-confidence to be able to face their daily challenges without wavering. I mentor in order to help students in the Academy’s programs achieve their life goals.
Being an Academy mentor is one of the best things that has happened to me recently. I now have a formal platform where I can contribute to the future of science by inspiring students to be the next generation of scientists. My three mentees in Academy programs are from the United States, from Ethiopia, and from South Africa. Considering my daily hectic schedule as a lecturer and researcher, wife and mother, meeting my mentees involves a lot of commitment, sacrifice, and hard work. But because of my strong passion, I enjoy everything I do.
When I meet with my mentees and we discuss their academic experiences and future career, I usually find myself remembering the experiences I had in school and the choices I made that brought me where I am. This way, I’m always able to suggest practical solutions to their challenges.
What was it like meeting your mentees in person at the GSA Summit for the first time?
It was really an exciting moment of my life. After spending months mentoring them in a virtual space, I was really looking forward to meeting them in person. I was planning a surprise for them by dressing very formally—different from the casual look in which they usually see me during our virtual meetings. I later changed my mind and wore African attire on the first day of the Summit to make it easy for them and other people to recognize me on that day without any introduction.
It was a great meeting between me and two of my mentees who were able to make it to the Summit. I so much admired the bond that I noticed between the two of them soon after I introduced them to each other. They immediately united like sisters and were caring for me like their mum. My mentee that resides in New York City even took us out to many places for sight-seeing.
Together, we all participated in the various activities at the Summit. I also want to extend my gratitude to the Academy for awarding a scholarship to one my mentees who won the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures Monthly Mentee Highlight Award. This made it possible for her and her mum to travel all the way from Ethiopia to attend the Summit in New York City. It also made it possible for me to meet her in person for the first time.
What is it like to mentor students in a virtual program?
It is a great experience to be connected to students online. Through the virtual platform, I am able to communicate, share ideas, listen to their dreams, opinions, fears and concerns, and I reassure them that success is possible when they believe and work hard.
From a distance, I am able to encourage students miles apart towards becoming great future scientists. Mentoring in a virtual program has helped me to promote science beyond boundaries. My greatest reward is the smiles on the faces of my inspired and fulfilled mentees.
You, too, can join Dr. Etim in our efforts to motivate young women around the world to pursue careers in STEM. Our 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures program is currently accepting applications for the 2017-2018 year. Sign up to become a mentor today!