The Girl Who Found Her Smile!

Photo of Adekemi sitting in her office surrounded by books including her own entitle 'The Girl Who Found Her Smile.'

Adekemi Adeniyan (MSc Medical Leadership, 2022) was recently shortlisted for a British Council Alumni Award in Nigeria. Here she talks about her career and her experience of studying her course at Lancaster.

"Pursuing an MSc in Medical Leadership at Lancaster University was one of the most transformative experiences of my career. As a rural dentist running a non-profit to promote oral health equity in underserved Nigerian communities, the program challenged my thinking and equipped me to drive impactful change.

Leveraging the coaching and mentoring approaches I honed at Lancaster, I have been able to mentor numerous future leaders in healthcare and social justice. My work based project on examining the effect of training primary school teachers in Ekiti state, Nigeria on using a structured oral health learning curriculum for children, still informs my organisation's initiatives to this day. We employ participatory research methods to design collaborative interventions with - not just for - underserved communities.

I have also a illustrated children's book on oral health entitled 'The Girl Who Found Her Smile', now translated into five languages including English, Yoruba, Hausa, French, and Tagalog. Originally created for Nigerian kids, the book's success led to an ongoing partnership to adapt it for children in the Philippines. This demonstrates how the creative leadership strategies I gained at Lancaster can be applied globally to promote health literacy.

My UK education instilled a commitment to developing imaginative solutions and contributing to healthcare practices worldwide. Since graduating, I have presented my work at numerous international conferences and written over 18 opinion pieces. These opportunities stem directly from my expanded perspectives and credibility gained through achieving a master's degree at Lancaster. My presentations have sparked conversations on how we can innovate and maximize resources to expand oral healthcare access everywhere.

While pursuing system-wide impact, I continually ground myself in the children I serve daily through my organisation. Their smiles and improved wellbeing motivate me. The knowledge that our programs are uplifting communities fuels my passion for this work.

My efforts to empower underserved groups and promote health equity have been recognised through various awards and these include:

- Her Network Woman of the Year - Healthcare Award (2019)

- African Changemakers Fellowship (2019)

- Wintrade Award Finalist - Female Entrepreneur Category (2019)

- Leading Ladies Africa Top 100 Most Influential Women in Africa (2020)

- Ekiti Covid-19 Intervention Award (2021)

- Most Exceptional Change Maker - Health Award (Humanitarian Awards Global, 2022)

- Universal Women’s Network Woman of Inspiration Award Finalist (2022)

-Trinity Leadership Fellowship (2023)

-Global South Arts and Health Envoys (2024)

My journey has shown that lasting progress requires changing mindsets, so I actively advocate for the transformative power of education, drawing on my Lancaster experience. With a strong sense of duty, I share my story to inspire youth, especially from underrepresented backgrounds , to pursue opportunities. My career will always intertwine with this mission to open doors for the next generation of leaders."

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