Kemi Aofolaju, Communications and Events Officer, Department of Bioengineering

Part of Shifting the Lens: A celebration of cultural diversity at Imperial

“I joined Imperial in May 2016, having moved to the UK at the age of six from Lagos in Nigeria. Sadly, my Dad passed away while I was studying Drama at Queen Mary University of London. It was a really difficult time, but the staff at my university were so amazing and supportive that they inspired me to work in higher education.

“Culture is very important to me – I don’t believe in being colour blind. But to be honest, sometimes I used to pretend I wasn’t Nigerian. I struggled to fit in and didn’t have friends until I was about ten. When I was in year three, one teacher used to laugh at my hair and my teeth (some Black people have darker gums due to having more melanin). I equated my Blackness with being less lovable, and I felt this way until I started embracing my Blackness during sixth form.

“My secondary school specialised in performing arts and humanities, and my love for performing started taking shape – I’m now in a cover band with colleagues called The Gastric Band. Musicality is in the bones of every Nigerian, and honestly, music has saved me! One thing I love about being around Nigerians is that if someone starts to sing, everyone will begin harmonising! When I’m in a bad place, I listen to Afrobeats – it’s like pouring sunshine in your ears.”

Read Kemi’s profile

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