Oyelere Found Career as Teen in Nigeria

Primary tabs

As a youngster, Ruth Uwaifo Oyelere dreamed about being a doctor, an engineer or even an accountant. But it wouldn’t be until her family returned home to a politically unstable Nigeria that she’d realized that none of these was the right fit.       

“In the 1980s, my family moved to the United States while my dad was doing a post doc at the University of Southern California,” Oyelere said. “We later returned to Nigeria during its military era, and our living standards plummeted. I became fascinated with the question of why an individual’s education investment could yield different returns based on location.”

This was the beginning of her self-described “journey” into her current field. As an assistant professor in the School of Economics, Oyelere has pursued her interest in education, development and labor economics. Here, Oyelere shares more about herself and her time at Tech.  

When did you arrive at Tech, and what are a few things people might not know about your job?
I’ve been at the Institute for more than five years. People might not realize that my research doesn’t just focus on the economy  and money — I’m examining social issues. For example, I am working with a colleague to investigate whether, over time, increases in immigrants in public schools have any effect on achievement of American-born children. Another unique aspect of what I do is that I work on some research topics with a lot of overlap with other disciplines such as public policy, sociology, political science and demography.

What have you learned from your students?          
I realize that even though they want to get good grades, the students still appreciate effective and engaging teaching and faculty who care about them — even when they don’t get the grades they hoped for.

What is your favorite spot on campus?   
It would be the Clough Commons rooftop. I love nature, and the green roof concept is really cool.

What piece of technology could you not live without?   
The Internet, because I do research online constantly. I’m always communicating with my co-authors, students and friends, and I prefer to do my shopping online.

Which do you prefer and why: Facebook, Twitter or a world without all of this social media stuff?
I prefer Facebook, because it allows me to reconnect with old childhood friends. I also enjoy the option of being able to share photos selectively with family and close friends without having to go to the trouble of emailing them. I don’t use Twitter. My whole problem with it is that the idea of following people or being informed about what they do constantly just doesn’t resonate with me.  

Where is your favorite place to grab lunch, and what do you order?
Any Thai restaurant, and I usually order some soup and then jasmine rice with a green or red chicken curry.

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?
I’d have to say President Obama. Having dinner with him would give me the opportunity to suggest some of my own ideas on how to deal with some of the labor market issues our country is currently facing.

What is something that we didn’t cover that you’d like people to know about you?
I sing and write songs. I wrote my first song when I was eight. I haven’t had much spare time for song writing in the last few years, but whenever I get the chance, I sing — especially to my kids.



  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Amelia Pavlik
  • Created: 01/24/2012
  • Modified By: Fletcher Moore
  • Modified: 10/07/2016

Target Audience