December 15, 2016 — In her own words, “It is one thing to dream and it is another to watch your dream unfold before your eyes.” Soon after 3pm EST on Thursday — when Princeton released its early admission decisions — Blessing Jegede was surrounded by her mother and two brothers in her home as she checked her application portal. With nervous excitement, not expecting to receive a positive answer, she tentatively pressed “View Update to Your Application.” To her greatest surprise, the first thing she saw was “CONGRATULATIONS!” With all energy she had, she screamed with joy! After telling all her friends and counselors, she carefully read the contents of the page and saw she had been admitted with essentially a full scholarship, after which she broke down in tears of surprise and wonder. She says that she has always tried to do her best but never thought her life would turn out this way.
Although she is Nigerian by citizenship, Blessing was born and has spent the majority of her life in Lesotho. When she was four years old, her father was killed. From that point forward, despite her mother working hard to provide for the family, finances were an issue. Sometimes Blessing and her siblings were sent home from school because her mother could not pay their school fees on time. She was also sent to school at a very young age — she has always been at least two years younger than her classmates.
Despite these challenges, Blessing flourished. Emotionally, she realized that she could not let her father’s death define her. Materially, she learned to be satisfied with what she had, even though she and her family needed more. She focused hard on her schoolwork, hoping that in the future it would pay off. She was motivated to do well in school to make her mother proud. She received the fourth highest score in all of Lesotho on her O-Level exams, and the fifth highest score in the country on her end-of-high-school exams. In the end, she graduated as the best in her class of 157 students.
Blessing wants to work at the intersection of engineering and healthcare to improve health outcomes in Africa. She says that many people die in Lesotho and in other African countries due to conditions that are treatable with the right technology and equipment. Those people are often not saved, though, because healthcare technology has been slow in coming to the continent of Africa, and even more so in rural areas. Accordingly, she wants to study engineering with a focus on robotics so she can help bring such technology to regions that need it. Ashinaga looks forward to walking alongside Blessing as her ambitious dreams for the continent unfold right before her eyes, just as her Princeton dream did Thursday.
Congratulations, Blessing — Ashinaga is very proud of you.