"You will see you can be more and you can do more," says Nigerian alumna Gift Wilfred Enang
by Abby Thompson, Alumni Network Manager
Gift Wilfred Enang is an outstanding alumna from the inaugural cohort of Equitech Futures’ Applied Data Institute. Gift earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from Madonna University Nigeria and a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Ibadan. She has a particular interest in studying how the environment relates to health and the effects of external factors such as housing, food, and human behavior on health outcomes. Gift wanted to identify and study data trends in the health care sector, so she applied to Equitech Futures.
“Our first task was to read and critically analyze an article from Our World in Data about health and wellness. At that time, I used to be very scared of writing, but Krittika boosted my confidence in my writing skills, and this informed the articles I later wrote.” Gift also attributes her interest in analyzing data to faculty member and founder, Abhilash Mishra. “Abhilash usually makes us derive meaning from setting graphs in class, and I began to develop an interest in analyzing data, creating visualizations, and generally writing articles and reports from those visualizations.”
“Equitech improved my communication skills. The faculty members were very open, so I could easily reach out to them with a challenge, and they were really excited to help out. It was surprising how accessible they were. Abhilash and Bhasi would always say, “reach out to me,” and if you’re not reaching out to them, they’re inquiring about “your challenge.” I’ve become really effective in communicating; I’m so bold in my current workplace to contact my boss about current issues and strategize about ways to improve. Equitech improved my communication skills and empowered me to speak up. Equitech has a unique way of identifying and building confidence in people.”
After graduating from the Equitech program, Gift decided to focus on analyzing secondary data and is currently working as a Data Analyst with an organization called Leader X which has an app that helps people become better leaders. The app includes materials and resources people can utilize to further develop their leadership skills. Gift analyzes user data and interactions, measures metrics, and derives insights on how users are interacting with the app to help the organization make better decisions and determine successful strategies.
While Gift’s first degree is in biochemistry, she would love to delve further in genomics, data, molecular biology, all with the intent to specifically prevent diseases.
“I see myself doing a Ph.D. in Biotech in the near future and studying genes to understand how we can prevent diseases. I really love the foundation of all of this to overall promote health and improve the quality of life.” she says.
“I really love technology and how it facilitates solving problems; the truth is, data is what actually helps us make informed decisions, in whatever field or sphere we are in.”
“You can actually use biological data to help solve diseases which involves a lot of coding, programming languages, and tech skills. Equitech helped me develop a strong foundation that further helped advance my career. I am a mathematician, and I’m really interested in asthma; for my research, I found it’s been difficult to find a diagnosis and cure for respiratory diseases. They can quickly worsen and conditions exacerbate to fatal levels.” Gift says she was inspired to research asthma because of a friend who died of the disease. Watching the family’s trauma firsthand was heart wrenching.
“I’m trying to analyze the difference between symptomatic and asymptomatic patients’ lungs and find a way to cure that. What can we do to their lungs to revive them? Is it related to something like smoke, dust, or cold weather? I strongly believe there’s a way forward. Generally, I’d like to start with lung disease in relation to the environment, environmental data, and biological data to completely prevent respiratory diseases.”
When asked about advice she would give to future generations, Gift says “I would really advise that women and Nigerians should come out of their shells and put their best foot forward. There’s a place for everyone out there. Our culture, our society, has a bit of potential, and it just makes you feel like you can’t do it, like you don’t belong there, but by the time you give it a shot, you will see you can be more and you can do more. Give your dreams and aspirations a shot.”
“I would like to thank the entire faculty for this exposure, and it was great being in a classroom with great minds and interacting with people from different countries who have been exposed to different things. It has a way of enlarging your mind. Connecting with people who are doing great things and just being in a classroom with these people boosts your confidence to chase your dreams. Many people have dreams but no motivation or people to look for inspiration; but for me, Equitech has made that common ground for me to be inspired and bring great minds from different parts of the world. You’re understanding the great things they do and you’re inspired to do more. For example, the Leadership Lab - the fact that we always had people share their research work with us, it was incredibly beneficial for me, and it helps you see the possibilities of what you can use data and technology to do and what you can use coding or programming languages to do.”
Sonali Aatresh contributed to this article.