Nigeria’s Aisha Akinola has been named the first African to become a Sabbatical Officer at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Akinola emerged the first African sabbatical officer and the first African to hold the role of the Vice President Welfare in her University’s 438 years history.
A sabbatical officer is a students representative.
Akinola told PUNCH her mother motivated her to run for the role at a point when she felt discouraged.
“After giving my manifesto, I felt so down and depressed because I was the only person of colour. I called my Mum and she encouraged me to continue,”
“During my campaign, I gave it my all and I was determined that even if I fail, I would fail gloriously but lo and behold, I won,”
Akinola revealed that she became aware of the sabbatical officer role while she was getting her visa to travel to Edinburgh.
“When I was preparing my visa at the airport, they asked me if I wanted to go on sabbatical. So, I was intrigued and checked out the meaning of the word. From that moment, I started looking forward to it,”
Akinola hopes to carry out campaigns on her campus to solve issues relating to racial segregation and students support using her new post.
She is also passionate about embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion into the experience of students at the University of Edinburgh.
She hopes that the University embraces diversity and inclusion under her tenure, as these factors are personal to her.
She revealed that during her meetings with other officials, people always get to notice her as she is the only person of colour and that her religion makes her stand out too.
Being a person of colour and a Muslim, the Sokoto born sees herself as a person of complexities.
She’s also a model, hair stylist, and henna artist.
For her, modelling is a passion while hair styling and henna artistry are side hustles.
“As a child, I was making toffee and ‘chin chin’ to sell at school. I have always had that entrepreneurial spirit and that’s how I’ve been able to manage my passion, role and side hustles.”