Ayooluwa Ilesanmi wants to save the world from life-threatening diseases.


“There are several diseases with little or no healthcare solutions, thereby leading to a worse health condition and eventually death for some people. I want to join hands with others in the pharmaceutical field to give breakthroughs to lives by mitigating the effects of life-threatening diseases while permanent cures are sought,” said Ilesanmi.

The Mississippi University for Women senior was recently selected to receive a $10,000 scholarship from the Western Union Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to create economic opportunity for youth and people who migrate by empowering them with the education and resources needed to succeed in today’s global economy.

“I will worry less about the financial cost associated with my 2023–2024 school year. Also, the scholarship pushes me to dream big for my graduate studies and reminds me to be bold to pursue any goal, even if it seems very competitive or tough to achieve,” said Ilesanmi.

The senior chemistry major from Nigeria said she wanted a more advanced education.
Ilesanmi said, “Chemistry is a subject I have enjoyed since high school, and I just couldn’t see myself studying another science that is not chemistry. Also, various healthcare solutions have been delivered via the application of chemistry in our world today, and it gives me joy that I could impact the world with chemistry.”

Currently, Ilesanmi is participating in Pfizer’s Summer Growth Experience, which is for students interested in the pharmaceutical industry to intern at any Pfizer site with a scientist who is in the line of their career. Ilesanmi said that through her internship, she has been introduced to techniques such as x-ray crystallography and cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) for determining the structure of biological macromolecules and complexes.

“I believe I have gained a lot since I started my internship, and I am very excited to be part of a project that will have a direct and real-life impact on human health. Overall, my experience at Pfizer has been fantastic and has increased my motivation towards delivering health care solutions,” said Ilesanmi.
After graduating from The W, Ilesanmi plans to pursue graduate studies in chemical biology or pharmaceutical chemistry. She said this is the first step in making an impact.

“I plan to learn, practice and teach necessary and relevant skills for healthcare solutions,” explained Ilesanmi.

Dr. Bonnie Oppenheimer, chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics, served as the nominating faculty for Ilesanmi.

She said, “Ayooluwa hit the ground running once she was on campus. She worked with Dr. Anderson as a Student Ambassador as she Skyped with students in Nigeria about The W. She is a strong chemistry major, and we are looking forward to seeing what is next for her.”

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.