Alum inspires future engineers on the page and in the real world

- February 14, 2023

Jennifer Ladipo. (Provided photo)
Jennifer Ladipo. (Provided photo)

Studying engineering on the Truro campus enabled Jennifer Ladipo (Class of ’16) to combine her love of math and science all against the backdrop of a small town.

“I really enjoyed the campus and town," Ladipo recalls. "I enjoyed how small it was. I didn’t realize how cool it was to have such small classes."

The small-town experience also set her on the path to big things.

While studying in Truro, Ladipo found confidence in her creativity and writing ability and was inspired to create TheSTEMGirl website. The site aims to encourage young girls to view themselves as both feminine and scientific by telling representative stories. 

In addition to writing most of the content, Ladipo also runs the day-to-day operations of the site.

“I don’t think I could say I’m doing traditional engineering, but in the content creation I use a lot of my engineering background in a non-traditional way,” she says.

Now, Lapido has been putting that knowledge to work as national program manager for Black Youth and Girls at Actua, Canada's leading science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education outreach organization.

She works tirelessly with 43 network members across Canada, including SuperNova at Dalhousie, to create content that brings engineering and science to life. Drawing on her course experiences, she creates hands-on activities like labs experienced during her engineering studies in Truro.

“She's a true inspiration to the profession, and a testament to the idea that anything is possible with hard work and a little bit of magic,” says Engineering staff member Mandi Wilson.

Stories as outreach

Ladipo’s online storytelling on TheSTEMGirl led her to publish five books aimed at representing young women in STEM. Her first book, The Red Elephant, began as an assignment in a required writing course on the Truro Campus. The course, taught by Deborah Stiles, inspired her to write.

“I wasn’t confident in my writing; you don’t know many Black authors,” she explains. “To be honest, I didn’t know any off the top of my head. I didn’t know if I could write. And then Professor Stiles told me ‘You have a gift for dialogue’. And I heard that, and I was like if this professional lady thinks that I trust her. I come back to that a lot, so if I am not confident in my writing or am freaking out, I think of her."

Ladipo continued her work in engineering outreach during her Industrial Engineering studies on the Sexton Campus, working with Imhotep's Legacy Academy — an organization working to increase access for youth of African heritage to higher education in science and engineering.

A signed copy of Jennifer’s book, Tess Makes a Mess, is on display in Banting Building on the Truro Campus. It tells the story of two young Black girls and their quest to build a robot.

Her continuing efforts to motivate a generation of young woman and Black youth will no doubt help to build the next generation of engineers.


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