Born to be a professor

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Adeyinka Abass had some clothes, books and his favourite food with him when he left his teary fiancée and family behind at Lagos airport. Buzzing Nigerian OrileAgege suburb changed into cold, clean and quiet Riihimäki.

I came here in Finland in 2010. During the first few months I was comparing everything to how it was in Nigeria. I was also surprised to find out that my first phone Nokia was from Finland. I always thought it was made in the USA. Anyway, as soon as the school in HAMK Riihimäki started we had orientating studies about Finnish culture and different icebreaking activities with fellow students.

There were twenty of us, Chinese, Nepalese, Estonian and so on, and also one Finnish guy who wanted to study in English. We would meet each other at homes and bars and go to movies, housewarming parties and such. We were quite talkative and loud and social. We are still good friends with most of the group. Some fellow rookies also wanted to learn snowboarding, skiing and do other sports. I may look like I excercise, but deep down I have always been a nerd. I like to read and also listen to audio books. The topics that are of interest to me are mostly about engineering, humanity, psychology and philosophy.

Life outside books

I work full time at Konecranes in Finland now. My speciality is mechanical engineering and strength analysis, so I work mainly with computers, doing calculations.

My dream is to encourage young people. That is the thing that really is propelling me. That is why I am working as a liaison in the HAMK-Konecranes Cooperation. At Konecranes they think that HAMK is a great resource for them, as it produces agile, quick and fresh thinking. The students can get interesting projects to attend to. I am an interpreter between the two parties, and in doing that, I train the students for real life. You cannot learn everything from books. We have super nice projects with the students. The questions that they ask are like “Is this design ok or not?” and “How do I sell this and get the price right?” or “What is the profit?” and so on.

When I was a teacher at HAMK the questions were more personal. I kind of miss that time. I became very close to the students. Anyway, the company wants to sell products and make profit. I always tell the new students that it will not be easy, but it is possible.

Family

My parents run their own small businesses from home. My father is a printer and my mother runs a small shop. My brother is lecturing about engineering in Nigeria, but we don’t discuss work much. So, we were middle-class by Lagos standards, but my parents could not support my studies abroad. My three sisters all live in the UK and they supported me. I also had my own savings from working as a private teacher of mathematics for high school students in Lagos.

My wife is a kindergarten teacher. We got married in 2015. She came here from Nigeria last year and nine months later we had our little baby girl. My wife wants to start studying computer sciences after finishing her maternity leave and maybe continue with Finnish language too. Her studies in Finnish were interrupted by the baby.

The Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, will be the university for my PhD. In 2015 I was invited as a special research student to Kyushu University and thought “Well, let’s go there!” I received a scholarship from Aalto University and went there for 5 months.

Maybe I made a good impression on the professor, because I didn’t break their laboratory or anything, so now they are welcoming me back. We plan to stay here in Finland. I can work on my PhD here, and when my working schedules at Konecranes allow, we will go to Japan for some months.

Drive and Passion

I love teaching and I feel like I have this special bond with HAMK. I studied at Aalto University too, but it did not feel the same there. Maybe it was because I was not teaching and nobody was asking me any questions. Here in HAMK I feel I still have a good social life and a real connection with people.

My master plan to start the PhD studies next year is to study 2 hours, work 7.5 hours and then study 2 hours again on weekdays. I want to prove that it is possible to work and study at the same time.

I like challenges. My philosophy is push it to the max. I completed my four years of studies at HAMK
in two and a half years. I had no time to miss my parents, because I had this drive and passion for studies. I also worked delivering newspapers in the night.

Last year I visited Germany on a work trip for training. Maybe I will go to India later. Working on my PhD will also provide me with connections all over the world.

My former students still ask me questions, like “Should I do Masters or what?” They still consult me, even from abroad.

The Dream

In my opinion the universities should focus more on entrepreneurship. I feel it is important to provide training in how to build a company. It is about work, experience and money. Already five weeks of training can make a big difference.

You make yourself first, and after that you can help others too. I myself feel like I haven’t even started my life yet. I am still gathering tools for it.

Anyway, in the future, maybe in twenty years time, I see myself as a professor somewhere, having coffee with my students and answering their questions.

If I had a magic wand I would start an institution for young people. It would be free and they could learn everything there. Then they could start their own businesses, maybe in Nigeria, maybe somewhere in Africa.

My role models have always been my teachers and I have always dreamt of being a professor. Maybe it´s in my DNA! I am thirty-one years old now, so there is time. My brain is still active.

Taina Värri

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