“I love math.”

This is beautiful music to a schoolteacher’s ears whenever a student says it—and means it. Ayo Oludipe (above, left) means it.

The Papillion La Vista graduating senior loves math, chemistry, anything to do with science and she has worked hard at them. Her dedication is taking her to UNL in the fall to study Computer Science.

“I wanted to know what goes behind the scenes,” she said. “How I can use the same internet and someone next to me is having the same access to it.”

Oludipe said she has wanted to study Computer Science since she was twelve. She has developed skills in multiple coding languages, including HTML/CSS, Python, and C++.

Although heading to UNL, Oludipe was offered a prestigious Horatio Alger scholarship to Metropolitan Community College in recognition of her academic and personal triumphs. According to the Horatio Alger Association website, such scholarships are awarded to students who have faced and overcome great obstacles in their lives.

“Last year, I had a problem with bullying,” she said. “I was on my way to ROTC and some boys that I rode the bus with started talking down on my accent and my race and all of that.”

Oludipe is originally from The Gambia, a west African nation along the lower reaches of the Gambia River.

The experience of being bullied shook her. She didn’t want it to affect her senior year, however, so she joined an anti-bullying club at school. The club went around to area high schools, such as Central, Benson, and Bryan, to meet with likeminded groups and discuss the challenges they faced, how they responded, and how they might respond in the future. The experience helped her gain perspective.

“I didn’t tell my parents, because I thought I could handle it,” she said. Eventually, she spoke to a school counselor and some trusted friends, which she recommends to any student facing bullying.

In the future, Oludipe sees herself working in cybersecurity with a multibillion dollar company. She also wants to own a side business that entertains kids and gets them interested in programming, like a game center.

Oludipe’s experience in the AIM Upward Bound program has positively impacted her life in multiple ways. Upward Bound is a federal TRIO program that helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in their precollege performance. AIM coordinates Upward Bound programs and provides free technology education through the Brain Exchange at five area high schools.

Upward Bound helped her master the college application process, select a school, choose a major, and pursue scholarships. The program also introduced her to students from different grades that she might not have otherwise had the opportunity to know.

“Most of the time, we only know who we know,” she said. “When we did the college tour, it was fun. Different personalities and different people came together, and right now we can say we’re all good friends. We bonded.”

AIM congratulates Ayo Oludipe on all of her hard work and dedication. We wish her success in college and beyond. Way to go, Ayo!