With your background in information systems, how did you become interested in QREM?
I felt I had maxed out computing. Not that there was nothing left to study, but with a masters, all that was left is high-end computing research. But I come from Nigeria, my country needs answers to basic questions like: what educational interventions get kids learning in school? What health programs are effective? And I could not reconcile these needs with high-end computing research. For a couple of years prior to joining the QREM program, I had been interested in the use of quantitative methods to address basic "what works" questions. And this is why I became interested in the QREM program.
Why did you choose EHE for your PhD?
It was all about my advisor, Professor Ann O'Connell. She has experience working on projects that answer the same types of question I hope to address in the future. She's worked on the African continent, and has some familiarity with an environment, Ethiopia, that I assume is not too different from Nigeria's. So when she contacted me, and said she was interested in my application, and asked to confirm my interest, I did a victory lap round my room.
What problems do you want to solve?
I would like to address “what works” questions. An example, does this particular educational intervention actually improve outcomes for kids, teachers, families? The how questions - how an intervention makes these improvements - those are interesting questions too. But, we would need to have some basic answers to these what works in education, health, etcetera; especially in the Nigerian environment. And these are the kinds of questions I would like to use my training here to address.
Why is the flexibility of the QREM program important to you?
There's this Humboldt saying, "whatever does not spring from a man's free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness". It's a quote I believe in quite strongly. So the flexibility of a program that allows me to take courses wherever, and professors who do not exhaust students with their research agendas, that seems to me like a basic right for anyone interested in intellectual inquiry. Though in a world where basic needs like a right to a decent living remain unmet, I am sure many do not see such freedoms as a basic right; I do.
How is EHE helping prepare you to achieve your goals?
Mostly with classes and providing a supporting environment of colleagues, students - I am a teaching assistant - and faculty I have found very helpful.
What has made your graduate teaching associateship one of your favorite experiences at Ohio State?
I enjoy interacting with people, hearing what they think and how they think, communicating ideas I find interesting, challenging people, seeing ideas make sense in people's heads. There are not many better places to do all of these things than in a classroom, especially when the students are motivated, and are forgiving of my shortcomings.
How have you received support in your program?
My advisor has been very supportive of my studies, given me good advice. She has supported me with conference attendance, encouraged my ideas very much, and shown general care for my well-being. It's a professional environment, but most of us like to feel valued as individuals. And I would say she's been a very big factor in my feeling valued as an individual since my coming to this country.
What is important for other students to know about the QREM program?
I would say the most important thing for prospective students to know about the program is it's a good environment if you are guided by intellectual curiosity. If you find that you are a curious type, like to explore freely, and would like wiser heads to give you guidance with your exploration, then I think this is a good environment for that.