June 2, 2009 - She enjoys discussing her research, "Quantitative Evaluation of Resonance Forms using Quantum Mechanics." She spends her free time exploring physics, calculus and nanoparticles. She thinks Bakersfield winters are "freezing cold."
She is 20-year-old Fadekemi "Kemi" Oba, and she will become a California State University, Bakersfield alumna when she graduates with honors on Friday, June 12.
Born in Nigeria and raised in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Oba moved to Delano in 2005 with her mother, a registered nurse, and younger brother. Her father is a physician and still lives in Trinidad and Tobago.
"The weather was a big transition for me. We don't know about seasons back home and I'm used to the sun all the time. I don't like the cold," said Oba, who experienced her first-ever snow this past winter while attending a research conference in Utah.
Hoping to become a pharmacist, she began taking classes at Bakersfield College and then transferred to CSUB.
"I changed my major many times, but chemistry is what I love," Oba added. "Last year I was accepted to a summer research program at UC Santa Cruz where I was introduced to 'green chemistry' and was fascinated. Now my ultimate dream is to use research to make clean and renewable energy products very efficient and affordable. Right now solar panels are very expensive, but maybe I can find a way to bring the price down so that anyone can access them. Then, I want to teach at the college level."
Oba will continue on the path toward that dream in August when she enrolls as a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley College of Chemistry, ranked as the top chemistry program in the nation by National Research Council. She has accepted a fellowship and stipend that will cover all her expenses for at least the first year.
"I know that CSUB has given me experiences and opportunities that I wouldn't have had elsewhere," Oba said. "The quality of education is great and my professors are very encouraging. I have interaction with professors that is unheard of at a bigger campus. It's very close-knit. I almost lived in Dr. Saiki's office!"
Chemistry professor David Saiki was happy to have her in his office and his classroom. "Kemi is a success story because she works hard. She's the kind of student that others want to emulate. She takes initiative and will no doubt be successful at what ever she wants to do. She's definitely one to watch in the future," he said.
This year Oba made two peer-reviewed presentations at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City. She has been named the CSUB Chemistry Outstanding Graduate as well as the Outstanding Graduating Senior for the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The California State University named her as an eligible participant of the Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program, a forgivable loan program for select graduate students who are pursuing full-time doctoral study and are interested in teaching in the CSU system.
"When I walk across the stage at graduation, I'll be thinking 'Wow. I have a chemistry degree. I did it!'" Oba said. "Chemistry is very challenging, but it makes sense to me. I feel very fortunate for the experiences I've had at CSUB, and now I'm ready for Berkeley."
For more information:Kathy Miller
Media ContactColleen Dillaway, Director of Public Affairs & Communications