Graduation 2021: Odunola Grace Babawale, MS in Medical Physics

Monday, May 10, 2021
Odunola Grace Babawale

Name: Odunola Grace Babawale
Hometown: Oyan, Osun State, Nigeria
Degree: Master of Science in Medical Physics

Why did you want to pursue a Master of Science in Medical Physics degree? 

Growing up in Nigeria exposed me to some challenges of the health care system that is common to developing nations. Due to a major health condition that required continuous monitoring, I frequented the hospitals more than the average person and experienced firsthand the limitations of our system. This birthed my passion to improve healthcare for Nigerians. After working for a top oil servicing multinational, I decided to use my earnings to pursue a career in medical physics. My plan is to work with other scientists in the field to research and implement accessible and affordable cancer treatment techniques that would be advantageous to low- to middle-income countries (LMICs) like Nigeria. 

Why did you choose Duke?

At the top of the list of why I chose Duke is the outstanding quality of education. The medical physics program at Duke is highly ranked in the United States. In addition, the department’s valuable and diverse scientific research which was translational in nature was of great interest to me.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time in the program? 

Some of my favorite memories include the social events that involved faculty and students such as the open house for prospective students. It is always fun to socialize with colleagues and enjoy a game of trivia. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed working at the Lilly Library. Before COVID-19, I was responsible for attending to patrons at the front desk. This gave me an opportunity to meet different people and network with them. A memorable event that comes to mind was a day when a graduate student was trying to print her thesis for an upcoming crucial meeting with her advisor. Unfortunately, she ran out of printing credit on her Duke card and the alternative was to purchase additional credit. However, the machine only accepts cash which she did not have. I was able to help her out by giving her a couple of dollars which was enough to cover the remaining printing. She was so overjoyed that she almost cried. About a week later, she sent me a gift card (worth much more than I gave her) to show her appreciation. I was so glad to be of help to her.  

What are your ultimate career goals? 

Following my graduation from Duke, I will be pursuing a PhD degree in Medical Physics at The University of Alberta, Canada, after which I will commence my residency training. In the next few years, I see myself as a well-established researcher with significant contributions to the field of radiation therapy physics. My goal is to work in an institution with roles in both clinical (hospital-based) and research aspects of the field. In addition, I plan to be strongly affiliated with a Non-Governmental Organization focused on improving access to cancer care in Nigeria.   

As a student during COVID-19 will you carry through to your career? 

One profound lesson that COVID-19 has left me with is that we are all connected. It uncovered global health issues and drove home the importance of ensuring that everyone—including people in low- to middle-income countries—has access to adequate health care. 

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