Joining the growing list of Nigerians in the diaspora breaking barriers and leaving their mark, Otitigbe-Dangerfield is now being celebrated for breaking a mould which had been in existence for over a century.
Super confident and with a good head on her shoulder, Onovu Otitigbe-Dangerfield’s self belief keeps paying off and now, it’s massive!
‘I think one of the things about me is if you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to do it, ‘Otitigbe-Dangerfield says.
With a near perfect GPA, Onovu is graduating at the top of her class at Albany High School, and yes, she is making history as the first Black valedictorian in school history in the school’s 152 year history.
‘I think that just being able to be valedictorian is an amazing accomplishment,’ she states, ‘I’m very privileged to be in that position but to have some historical meaning behind it, to have a position where in my school there’s a lot of students who look like me, now I’ll have an opportunity to live by that mantra –if you can see it you can be it.’
A hard worker: it’s no mistake this inspiring youth achieved the feat, Onovu who has always been passionate about boardening her knowledge tank beyond the four walls of a school is president of the robotics team, president of the Key Club, and editor-in-chief of the school’s online newspaper. She’s also a member of the Select Choir, a violinist, a pianist in the Jazz Improve Band, and a soccer team member, plus she volunteers at a local nursing home.
When she first decided to join the robotics club at Albany High School, doubts crept in as it wasn’t the most comfortable space for a student who looks like her.
“It’s mostly white men in that club,” Otitigbe-Dangerfield said. Initially, she says, she was intimidated, but her “passion for the field and being able to create” drew her back.
‘She is definitely a treasure,’ asserts Ellen Hurley Green, who became Onovu’s guidance counselor in middle school. ‘I’ve been in the district for 30 years and honestly I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone with so much poise, so much grace, and so much humility, along with so much sparkle in everything she does.’
Otitigbe-Dangerfield has been accepted at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Johns Hopkins, and Georgia Tech to name a few.
‘She’s a role model for girls,’ Hurley Green reiterates, ‘a role model for students of color too, and I think those things are something that we always have to hang on to.’
Good work ethic; This isn’t the first time she’s standing out, she was valedictorian of her eighth-grade class at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School.
“I come from a Nigerian household, so education has always been important,” Otitigbe-Dangerfield said.
Providing with inspiration from the home front to learn, her work ethic is traceable:
“I’ve always been curious and my desire to learn is what motivated me to be dedicated to studying and seeking to understand content,” she said.
What the future holds, Otitigbe-Dangerfield hopes to specialize in pediatric robotic-assisted neurosurgery and become a “surgineer,” an emerging field that combines the interdisciplinary aspects of robotic design and performing surgery.