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Alumna Profile: Izehi Ojehanon (Child and Youth Care ’23)

Mature student straddles work, education and dreams of taking up leadership as a Black woman
August 02, 2023
Izehi Ojehanon

Child and Youth Care (BA ’23) alumna Izehi Ojehanon completed her undergraduate degree and will return to TMU in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in her field.

When Izehi Ojehanon came to TMU, she was already employed as a community shelter worker but unsure about potential career paths for Black women. As she continued her undergraduate studies in child and youth care, she blossomed academically and personally.

She’s now completed her Bachelor of Arts, and will continue onto graduate studies at TMU in the fall — all with the goal of eventually taking up much-needed female leadership roles in her field.

How was your undergraduate experience at TMU?

It was unique. TMU is a place where I discovered my uniqueness and identity. I enjoyed a family-like experience, especially in the Child and Youth Care program, where people genuinely care for each other. Support from faculty and non-faculty members was overwhelming. They helped me believe in myself, and I’m now motivated to face whatever comes my way.

My involvement in student groups, associations and committees was also crucial because it allowed me to advocate for the rights of children and youth and to improve the experiences of Black students on campus. It also gave me a say in how the school is run and the program's overall development for the benefit of the students.

Why did you choose the Child and Youth Care program at TMU?

Universities and colleges both teach Child and Youth Care, but I chose TMU because the curriculum contains the theories, techniques and hands-on experience that I need to support  children and youth facing adversity. In my current job, I work with children and youth with developmental disabilities, and with my degree, I hope to upgrade to a more advanced position.

Beyond academics, TMU equipped me with excellent communication, writing and interpersonal skills. It has also helped me improve my conflict resolution skills,  taught me the willingness to learn, how to change and adapt, and to work independently and in a team. I enjoyed mastering the act of time management and asking for help whenever I needed it.

How has your degree helped your career and future goals?

I currently work with youth and adults who are community shelter residents. I provide them with assessment and case management support services focused on harm reduction, immigration, legal, health and wellness, education, and training. 

In September, I’ll begin a master’s degree program in Child and Youth Care at TMU. As a Black woman whose life intersects with multiple factors, I understand the challenges some Black folks face with all forms of racism. Child and youth care practices need women like myself to occupy leadership positions, stand up for those whose voices are suppressed, and advocate for cultural representation in institutions. I’m confident that a graduate degree in my field will equip me with the knowledge and experience to take on a leadership role.

Izehi’s top tips: Be focused and committed to your studies. Advocate for yourself and ask for help when you need it. Be open-minded to learn and adaptable to change. Embrace volunteering opportunities on campus and be respectful of others.

How did you overcome challenges on your academic journey?

I had academic difficulties, was shy to ask for help and wasn't sure if TMU supported mature Black students. But after I joined the TMU chapter of the Canadian Student Association for Children's Rights, I met some faculty members and realized they were approachable and willing to support students. I spoke to them about my challenges, and they directed me on how to access academic support on campus.

Another challenge was not knowing what career paths to follow as a Black woman. But when I joined the faculty’s Bridge mentorship program for Black students, I discovered myself. I learned to be myself and pursue my dreams as if there were no obstacles.