University of Michigan (U-M) graduate Oluwami Dosunmu-Ogunbi has made history!

The Street Journal reports she has earned a Ph.D. in robotics, the first for a Black woman at the institution.

Reflecting on her milestone and speaking in front of thousands of people during the university’s 2024 commencement ceremony, she said, “If you do not know me right now that is OK, but I want you to remember me as the University of Michigan’s first Black woman to get a Ph.D. in Robotics. We did it class of 2024. We can officially call ourselves Michigan engineers.”

She later took to LinkedIn and commented further stating, “Speaking at Commencement was the experience of a lifetime! To receive a standing ovation from a crowd of over 70,000 people in the largest stadium in North America…. Oh how far have I ascended! That little girl with big dreams is not so little anymore. She has become a GIANT.”

Dosunmu-Ogunbi’s road to her doctoral started in high school. She recalls being “fixated” on the “funny hat” her high school teacher wore at their graduation. She learned a doctorate degree would be required for her to adorn herself with such a hat. As the child of Nigerian immigrants, she adds that when considering her options to pursue a doctorate, she felt her only choices were to become a lawyer, doctor, or engineer, with the latter the most realistic pathway.

“I can’t be a doctor, because I hate blood. Lawyer is out because I would pass out if I had to ever talk in front of a large crowd of people… So I guess that leaves engineer,” she expressed in her speech.

In doing so, Dosunmu-Ogunbi shares that she understood the positive impact she could have on the world. She exemplified this by discussing her journey with high school students from “Girls Who Code,” advocating for college students’ various identities through participation and activities, and earning the U-M Spectrum Center’s Intersectional Advocacy Award in the process, her personal website mentions.

“A Michigan Engineer isn’t solely a beacon of scientific and technological prowess,” Dosunmu-Ogunbi mentioned during her speech. “Rather, they embody intellectual curiosity, social consciousness, and the ability to craft collaborative solutions for societal challenges. They foster inclusively and innovation, fostering a community dedicated to service for the greater good.”

As for what’s ahead for the bright mind, she is a a postdoctoral researcher in U-M Ann Arbor’s Robotics Department with a focus in “controls with applications in bipedal locomotion,” her website notes. Professor Jessy Grizzle serves as her advisor in the Biped Robotics Lab.

Ultimately, her overarching goal is to become a professor so she has the opportunity to break down the complex disciplines of engineering and robotics for a broader audience.