By Rashda Khan
Almost everyone has heard the advice “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” at some point in their life. But Esther Akinwande, a chemical engineering junior at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, took its wisdom to heart and is now reaping the benefits.
Akinwande, who is a UH Honors student and a regular on the dean’s list, applied for several scholarships in 2018. As a result, she won eight scholarships totaling $17,200 for the 2018-2019 academic year.
She won scholarships from BP, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the National Society of Black Engineers (Houston chapter), AACE International (originally the American Association of Cost Engineers), the UH Cougar Athletic Alliance, the UH Urban Experience Program, the UH Honors College and from the University of Houston Foundation.
“These scholarships helped pay for my classes and allowed me to participate in more extracurricular activities,” Akinwande said. “It’s been a very exciting year for me.”
Akinwande has been using her time to make the most of other opportunities and build a cache of experiences. She landed a spring co-op with Marathon Petroleum Corp. after attending the UH Engineering Career Fair last fall.
“It’s been really exciting to apply some of the basic concepts I learned in my chemical engineering classes to actual processes,” she said.
She also attended the SWE annual conference in Minneapolis in 2018 and is looking forward to starting her internship with Shell this summer.
Akinwande attributed her scholarship success to various factors – good grades, campus involvement and “actually making the effort to apply.” The support of her mentors – from writing reference letters to looking over her application – also was a tremendous help. Underlying it all is her family, originally from Lagos, Nigeria.
“My family is an amazing support system for me,” Akinwande said. “They constantly inspire and encourage me to push through and never give up, regardless of the challenges I face.”
What’s next for Akinwande?
She is reapplying for most of the scholarships because some of them don’t automatically renew and she is applying for new scholarships.
Meanwhile, she shared some advice for other students.
“Stay focused on your academics but also get plugged to different organizations,” said Akinwande, “UH has a lot of organizations/groups you can be a part of. Find the one that feels like home to you and build relationships.”