After it was revealed that Professor Oghenetega Ighedo, a Nigerian academic, is the first black woman to graduate with a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of South Africa, she gained popularity on Nigerian social media.

Professor Oghenetega, a native of Abraka, Delta State University, holds a master’s degree in pure mathematics from the University of Ibadan.

She made history as the first black woman to complete a PhD at the University of South Africa in its 149-year existence.

In a piece published by Women of Power Africa, she stated:

“I was inspired by my mother – a retired maths teacher. I saw the way she was going about teaching it and when I grew older, I thought the way she did maths was interesting and I wanted to see if I could do it like her.

“My decision to study pure mathematics was also motivated by the fact that not only are there few black pure mathematicians but there are fewer black women who are pure mathematicians.

“I encourage young women not to let adversity and challenges deter them. When I started my PhD I was already married, I had two children and was expecting my 3rd child. In spite of being a mother and a wife, I was able to complete my PhD within three years.”

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