Professor Oghenetega Ighedo, a Nigerian mathematician, has broken a 148-year-old record by becoming the first black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in Pure Mathematics from the University of South Africa (UNISA).
It is the first time in the 148-year history of South Africa’s most prestigious institution that such a feat has been accomplished.
Ighedo, an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of South Africa (UNISA), was already a proficient researcher in Nigeria, where she earned an MSc in Pure Mathematics from the University of Ibadan and a BSc in Industrial Mathematics from Delta State University before moving to South Africa.
Her mother, who was also a Mathematics teacher, is credited with the renowned scholar’s accomplishment. Ighedo attributed her motivation to her mother, who has now retired.
“My mother, a retired maths teacher, was an inspiration to me.” I observed how she taught it, and as I got older, I felt her method of doing arithmetic was intriguing, and I wanted to see if I could do it like her.”
“My decision to pursue pure mathematics was influenced by the fact that there are few black pure mathematicians, and even fewer black women pure mathematicians.”
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The scarcity of black and female pure mathematicians motivated Ighedo’s decision to pursue the course. She saw that the number of black women who were pure mathematicians was dwindling.
She also urged young women not to be discouraged by obstacles on their way to academic success. As a married lady with two children, she detailed her ordeals while pursuing her Ph.D. Ighedo, on the other hand, revealed that she was expecting her third child during this time.
“I was able to complete my Ph.D. in three years despite being a mother and a wife,” Ighedo remarked.
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