Innovating with a purpose

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

By Hibah Shaikh, Faculty of Engineering

A passion for learning

Yvonne profile photo

From a young age, Yvonne Osagie knew she wanted to pursue a masters because of her passion and love for learning.

“I love learning, and I recognize the fact that even outside of this degree, I'm probably always going to have some level of learning experience every single year.”

Yvonne previously completed her Bachelors of Science degree at Carleton University in Neuroscience and Mental Health, with a double minor in Business and American Sign Language and is currently working for a start-up in Toronto as a Strategic Partnerships Lead.

Alongside her full-time position, Yvonne is a part-time grad student in Waterloo’s Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program. She originally planned on completing her MBA, but realized that the program wasn’t providing her with what she needed, which was something that could help her start her own business.

After acknowledging her desire to pursue entrepreneurship, Yvonne spoke with an MBET alumni, and after seeking their input and researching schools in Canada for entrepreneurship, Waterloo became her number one.

An entrepreneurial mindset

Being a Waterloo student, Yvonne has had the opportunity to participate in the Problem Pitch competition.

“I'm always trying to explore [the problem] further and see what the true source is, what the actual reasoning is, and apply that to different strategies. So, [Problem Pitch] was great for my own business, but it's also great as a skill and I know that that's something that Waterloo definitely specializes in.”

Through this competition, Yvonne was able to explore a problem through different lenses and apply her learning to eventually win the competition with her pitch.

As a passionate learner, Yvonne believes that grad studies have allowed her to reignite the childlike version of herself: “I can do anything I want to be, I can change the world if I want to because I have the power that's within my grasp.”

Carving a pathway for women in colour

For Yvonne, much of her inspiration for her research comes from the personal challenges she and her community faced growing up as women of colour.

After speaking to a close friend, Yvonne realized that women of colour were being misdiagnosed at an alarming rate: “it's consistently happening and there's not enough eyes or focus on it.”

Seeing that there was minimal action being taken to combat this issue, Yvonne took it upon herself to carve a pathway and create a space for everyone. She would like to start a business to help change this issue that many of her close peers, including herself, are facing.

“[a misdiagnose] could have a real big impact on the quality of life someone has. It could be the discrepancy of knowing if they could have children or not. These are life changing, altering effects that just tend to consistently happen more with a specific group of people.”

Don’t choose your topic because it sounds good or because someone’s pushing towards it, but do it because it has an ultimate purpose, and lean on to that purpose when things get tough.

Yvonne Osagie, MBET '23

My piece of advice for aspiring grad students

Being a part-time student, Yvonne has had a much different grad experience, but her advice can be applied to everyone.

“Don’t choose your topic because it sounds good or because someone’s pushing towards it, but do it because it has an ultimate purpose, and lean on to that purpose when things get tough.” Grad studies can be tough but having an idea or topic that is worth the work will make overcoming the challenges easier.

For part-time students specifically, Yvonne stressed the importance of taking advantage of the extra time provided to sit down and thoroughly develop an idea or product that you can proudly showcase.