Mrs Olawale, founder of Stars of Afrika writes from Florida, USA. She is passionate about changing the narrative about Africa and celebrating each African doing us proud. This week’s story focuses on Dr. Ebunoluwa Witherspoon, who recently bagged a PhD degree in Mathematics from Central Michigan University, United States.
My name is Grace Ebunoluwa Witherspoon. I was born in Ilesa, Osun State, Nigeria. I grew up in Swaziland where my family relocated to when I was six years old. I come from a close-knit family with four siblings (three brothers and one sister), and cousins who are close to me like my siblings. I am the youngest among my siblings. One of my fondest memories is spending summer vacations with my cousins.
I attended five different primary schools in Nigeria and Swaziland. I started at Olatunde Memorial Primary School (Nigeria), then Malkerns Primary School (Swaziland), Glovic Primary School (Nigeria), Tubungu Primary School (Swaziland) and finally Khanyisile Primary School (Swaziland). My high school education was at St. Michael’s High School in Swaziland. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Swaziland. In addition, I obtained my Master’s degree from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia and finally my Doctorate from Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
Ebunoluwa Witherspoon during her Ph.D Convocation
What are some of the obstacles you faced pursuing your dreams and how did you overcome them?
In the final year of my Bachelor’s degree, my mother had a stroke a month to my final exams. That was a difficult time for me, having to study and at the same time having the concern of my mother’s health. My family and my faith in God helped me during that period and I am grateful to God I passed all the exams I took. At the end of my Bachelor’s degree, I knew I wanted to further my studies but was not sure how. I was privileged to be informed by a family friend about the opportunity with Marshall University and the search for students for their Master’s program. Although the deadline for applications had passed at the end of February, I applied at the end of July and was admitted in August for the Fall Semester which started in August. I can say that my admission was just by God’s grace and favor. It took few weeks to process my student visa and I eventually made it to school just two weeks late. The road to my doctorate was filled with some challenges too. One of them was passing my last comprehensive exam to be a doctoral student. My family rallied around me and helped me through it. Further to that, I got married and had three beautiful girls while working on my graduate degrees. My husband has been my rock and my greatest cheerleader. The days I felt like giving up (which were plenty), his encouragement and support were unwavering. I am also blessed with a mother-in-law who has taken me as a daughter. She is always there to help when we need it. In the last year of my doctorate, I lost my mother and that was a very challenging time for me. I was also pregnant at the time and had to manage a wave of emotions. If not for the encouragement I received from the people God surrounded me with, I don’t know how I could have survived. My father was a rock for me. He was always a phone call away to advise and to encourage, even though he was grief-stricken too.
Who is the greatest inspiration in your life?
My greatest inspiration in life is God. He is my source and my strength. All I have achieved in life up until this moment is because of Him. His grace has been more than sufficient for me. In all I have accomplished I have seen His hand at work. Just like the psalmist said, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” My parents and mother-in-law are also part of the inspirations in my life. They have taught and shown me how to live a life that brings honor and glory to God. They have modeled for me how to live a life that point others to God. They are selfless and Christ-centered. They have shown me how to make it in life, through God.
What are your goals for the future?
My future goal is to serve God in every sphere He places me; in my family as I nurture the children He has blessed my husband and I with; in the body Christ as I use the gifts and talents He has given me to serve and point others to Christ; in my career as He directs me to be a light in the marketplace where He places me.
What advice do you have for this generation of Africans?
My advice is to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter What do you want the world to know about Nigeria? Nigeria is home to some of the strongest and most resilient individuals in the world.