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Nigeria Native Dr. Ayodele William Okesola Rises to the Challenge in Online Ed.D. Program

While Dr. Ayodele William Okesola was busy inspiring his students, they were doing the same for him.

“I am a mentor to youth,” he said. “I have made an impact on them — academically, spiritually and morally. Some of my students were graduating and becoming medical doctors.

“I thought, ‘Why can’t I complete my doctoral degree?’ I consider myself a real educator because of the impact I have made on others. That inspired me to do something.”

Dr. Okesola, who goes by William, graduated from the online Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership – Administration program at St. Thomas University (STU) in May 2020. He will walk the commencement stage in December 2020.

“There is the satisfaction that comes with knowing that I have challenged myself, worked hard and honed the skills in preparation for a satisfying career,” he said. “Having a doctorate also bolsters my confidence and feelings of self-worth.”

Having immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 1999, Dr. Okesola is now in his 15th year as a science teacher with Florida-based Miami-Dade County Public Schools and his eighth year at Robert Morgan Educational Center & Technical College in Miami. The flexibility of the online format helped him complete the Ed.D. while working full time.

“The coursework is developed to meet my scheduling needs and provides working professionals with the opportunity to obtain this doctoral degree while maintaining a reasonable work-life balance,” he said. “It was a little busy, but it depends on the mindset. I challenged myself and worked hard.”

Dr. Okesola chose St. Thomas for several reasons, including its accreditation, reputation and its faith-based history.

“I led a Christian campus community during my undergraduate career as a general coordinator,” he said. “I admire the strict self-discipline, rigorous, without-frivolity role model. I like that St. Thomas University is a citadel institution of learning.”

Teacher, Teacher

After Dr. Okesola completed high school, he planned to become a medical doctor in his homeland. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Lagos in 1988.

“Because of the financial aspect of becoming a doctor, I decided to go for teaching,” he said. “It was meant to be. I have a passion for it. I taught for 10 years at a grammar school in Nigeria.

“When I teach students, I do things differently. My inspiration is to make the students have the knowledge to do everything they want to do in life. My motto is, ‘We conquer by continuing.'”

Dr. Okesola, who also worked as a plasma processing technician at Aventis Bio-Service in Oklahoma City, graduated with a master’s degree in science curriculum and instruction from Florida International University in 2012.

“The future of education will not be the same, but quality educators will shape the future for the better by providing quality education in uncertain times and bringing stability in an unstable situation,” he said.

Dr. Okesola especially enjoyed the research courses in the Ed.D. curriculum because of their scientific nature. However, writing his dissertation, “Evaluating Leaders’ Perception on Academic Success and Achievement in At-Risk High Schools,” had the biggest impact on him.

“The dissertation was impossible without the immense support I received from the chair, Dr. Maria Orlando,” he said. “I am eternally grateful for everything she did to make this possible. She is super cooperative, the embodiment of grace and an epitome of helpfulness.

“Without her, I would not have attained this milestone in my program. She stepped in as my mentor after my second chair could no longer continue with me. Since then, my research moved at a jet speed. Words cannot express how much I appreciate her mentorship while helping me.”

Doctor, Doctor

With graduation day right around the corner, Dr. Okesola is eager to complete his journey with the satisfaction of attaining a monumental achievement through hard work.

“People have to know that there might be obstacles while earning a doctoral degree,” he said. “It depends on what you want to achieve.

“When you know that, you proceed vigorously and don’t give in to any distraction. The love I received from the teaching community motivated me.”

The combination of experience and education gives Dr. Okesola the ability to soar even higher as an educator who already makes a big impact on his students.

“St. Thomas University has made an indelible impact in my career,” he said. “Pursuing a doctoral degree presents me with an opportunity to join a community of scholars who share a passion for knowledge. Working with faculty mentors and publishing a dissertation gave me the privilege to gain valuable research skills and to engage with real-world case studies.

“I have become a more effective and influential leader as I utilize the latest education strategies immediately in my teaching and learning environment — especially in this unprecedented challenging COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dr. Okesola has already experienced the difference returning to higher education has made on his life since he enrolled at STU in 2016.

“The degree connotes intellectual ability, dedication and perseverance in the face of obstacles,” he said. “As we walk through the pathway of diligent duty, certainly, there are accolades, joys and opportunities lying ahead when we have gone the last mile of the way.”

Learn more about St. Thomas University’s online Ed.D. in Educational Leadership – Administration program.

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