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Ade Says Thank You


by Jonathon Spalding

“As soon as I got to the reception dinner everyone was just smiling,” said Adesuwa Ighodaro, the first recipient of the Paul G. Sears endowed scholarship in chemistry.

The scholarship, initiated in 2008, was created in honor of Dr. Paul G. Sears to assist undergraduates studying chemistry at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Sears earned his B.S. in Industrial Chemistry in 1950, as well as his Ph.D. in 1953 from UK, but the connection he has with the university doesn’t end there.

“My roots at UK run deep,” said Dr. Sears.

After working at Monsanto for a couple years, Dr. Sears returned to UK as a full professor where he eventually retired in 1990. For 28 years Dr. Sears influenced the lives of more than 7,200 undergraduates in more ways than just teaching the difference between electrons and neutrons.

While maintaining an active teaching and research program, Dr. Sears reported to University of Kentucky president as the Special Assistant for Academic Affairs from 1980 to 1990. With awards such as the UK Greek Community Outstanding Teacher Award (1968) and the UK Alumni Association Great Teacher Award (1980), Dr. Sears is highly revered around campus, not only in the chemistry department.

One person in particular was so influenced by Dr. Sears that he and his wife, Hugh and Pat Huffman, have set up an endowed scholarship for chemistry students in his honor. Dr. Sears was Hugh’s preceptor and mentor while getting his Ph.D. at UK.

“Economic times always seem difficult and it is even more important in the current environment to assist students; an endowed scholarship serves that purpose well,” said Huffman, “It was a pleasure to meet Ade who seemed to be the most deserving and poised recipient.”

Born in Louisville, Ade is one of three sisters that go to UK. A senior biochemistry major, Ade is now narrowing her sights on medical school next fall and application fees can get costly.

“I applied to nine different schools, you have primary and secondary and you have the trouble for interviews. So that’s basically where all the funds are going,” said Ade.

However, Ade’s ambition reaches beyond just medical school. After the four-year medical program, Ade will spend an extra year earning a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in Global Health.

“I would really like to start something internationally. I would love to start a clinic or a foundation of some sort,” said Ade, “I just want to work in underserved areas.”

Ade’s parents are from Nigeria, so it isn’t coincidental that Ade has gravitation towards international work. Until then, Ade will be right here at the University of Kentucky, studying hypertension in rats in the Chem/Phys building.

Following a trend, Ade spoke very highly of her own research mentor, Dr. David Osborn. With two and half years of research together, Dr. Osborn has become nothing short of a father figure to Ade.

“He is there with me always checking up. He was there through the whole application process and making sure that I researched the schools and knew what I was getting myself into,” said Ade,” he was more than just research; he mentored me in every aspect.”

A special kind of relationship develops in academia that opens up doors later on down the road. That is the value of a university like UK. We are a family of mentors and students who are always willing to help the next generation of academics. As Ade continues in her education as well as in life, she will remember all the people that helped her along the way; and for that Ade says “thank you.”