In a calculus class for biology majors, Mafo Yakubu '09 from Abuja, Nigeria, was challenged by Dr. Donald Hooley. "I remember him asking me why I was a biology major when I seemed to love math," said Yakubu. "That lead to a conversation about epidemiology (the branch of medicine that deals with the study of the causes, distribution and control of disease in populations) and that changed my mindset about what I wanted to do with my life." During her senior year at Bluffton, she was accepted into a graduate program at Yale's School of Public Health.
At Bluffton, Yakubu served as a science tutor, participated in the worship band and was active in ICon (International Connection), a student organization with an emphasis on building friendships and sharing experiences among students from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds, where she served as treasurer and president. "The Public Health School at Yale is very diverse and my experiences with Icon prepared me for the interactions I have every day with my classmates."
But it was her work in the classroom that Yakubu feels really prepared her for life at Yale. "The academic work at Bluffton is intense and my courses prepared me very well for what I am doing at Yale," she said. "Dr. Todd Rainey, my advisor, encouraged me to pursue a graduate program that would prepare me to reach my goals."
Yakubu's goals for her future became clearer after returning home to Nigeria for two summers. "I went home and volunteered in a hospital in my area. Coming home to see the disparity in the hospital was hard for me but it helped me stayed focused," she said. "In my country, the burden of disease affects large percentages of the population. I want to pursue a PhD in infectious diseases or go to medical school and then I want to go home and make a difference."