Raheemat Rafiu is a Ph.D. candidate in Medicinal Chemistry at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She shares with us her love for Chemistry and passion for Fashion Designing. The YouTube content Creator is definitely a source.
Can you please introduce yourself to us?
Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullaah wabarakatuh… My name is Raheemat Rafiu, I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in Medicinal Chemistry at Missouri University of Science and Technology. I am an advocate against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and I am certified by the Federation of International Gender and Human Rights (FIGHR). I am a certified Fashion Designer, a writer, and a LinkedIn and YouTube content creator.
Can you tell us about your background & how growing up was like for you?
I am the eldest child of a middle-class family of 6. My father is a Medical Doctor, and my mother is a Manager at a Water Corporation and a self-made businesswoman. I am from Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria. It is where my siblings and I were also raised.
Growing up was comfortable, Alhamdulillāh. My parents’ value quality “western” and “Islamic” education. My 3 siblings and I were treated equally and there was no preference given to my brothers. We all had equal opportunities to pursue our chosen dreams and were supported in all our aspirations.
How did your growing up motivate you, and what impact did it have in shaping your person & personality?
Having a father who saw value in me has made me very fearless in pursuing my dreams. He has always been my greatest supporter. My mother is a woman of strength and value and she has actively been involved in all my aspirations.
Growing up in my home instilled a lot of discipline and a love for hard work. I saw how my parents were dedicated and put their best into whatever they do, and this greatly impacted my work ethic.
You are a Ph.D. candidate at Missouri University of Science and Technology, United States, what inspired you to pursue a Ph.D., and what area of research is your Ph.D. in?
I have always wanted to pursue a Ph.D. before I started my bachelor’s degree. My childhood dream was to be a College Professor and a Fashion Designer. I had a High School Teacher I loved and admired so much; the love I had for her is the backbone of my immense love for chemistry.
When it was time to go to college, I knew my course of study had to be chemistry-related, and thus I opted to study pharmacy at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). I was not sure my exam score would be high enough for pharmacy, so I opted for chemistry instead.
I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in December 2018 as the best graduating student in my department and was admitted to Missouri University of Science and Technology in January 2019 for my Doctorate. My Ph.D. research is based on synthetic organic (medicinal) chemistry and I synthesize drugs that can improve the lives of patients living with diseases like cancer and Traumatic brain injury.
You are an advocate against Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV)?
Yes, I am an advocate against Sexual and Gender-based Violence.
What inspired you to become an advocate against Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV)?
Personal experiences and the experiences of those around me. As a Muslim woman, I have seen first-hand how religion has been used as a weapon to perpetrate abuse against women, especially Muslim women. Many women are being spiritually abused into accepting abuse as a first-class ticket to a long-lasting marriage and paradise. My advocacy is mainly to raise awareness against this culture of abuse, empower young Muslim women to choose abuse-free relationships, and advocate for women who are currently in abusive relationships.
What do you have to say about Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Nigeria and in the United States?
Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in the United States is very different from SGBV in Nigeria. In the United States, there are very few cultural and religious expectations for people to remain in abusive relationships. In Nigeria, aside from advocating against SGBV, a lot of work has to be done to re-educate people into rejecting abuse-induced so-called “religious” and “scriptural” messages. SGBV cases are on the rise in both countries, but the advocacy needed is very much different.
How do you think Sexual and Gender-based Violence can be curb in Nigeria and the United States?
Awareness: A lot more has to be done to educate young people about how common SGBV is, and how they can protect themselves and others around them against it. Almost every person will be involved in one platonic/romantic relationship in their lifetime, but we are never taught this vital information in school!
Empowerment: Empowerment of the girl-child, giving her the same opportunities her male counterpart has and liberating her from societal barriers.
Support: For people who have been victims of SGBV, they need a lot of support to heal and get back on their feet. Providing support will encourage more people to speak up and seek help.
What are your principles in life?
Truth… I have zero tolerance for deceitful people.
Self-love… I believe I cannot give from an empty cup.
Excellence… I strive to give my best in everything I do.
You are a writer?
Alhamdulillāh, I am a writer.
What is your genre?
Personal development and motivation, at the moment.
How long have you been a writer and what inspires your writing?
I have loved writing since I was in High School. I had a fiction book I was drafting back then; I had the cover page chosen, I had the storyline mapped out, etc. My inspiration is mainly from personal development books, I read a lot of them and I feel it is a privilege to be able to share what I learn with others around me. Writing also gives me accountability as I love to practice whatever I preach.
Do you have a plan on writing books?
Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! May Allah ease my Authoring Journey. I plan on writing books and Journals in the coming years.
You are a content creator on YouTube?
Alhamdulillāh, Yes. I create content on YouTube.
Youtube channel; Raheemat Rafiu
What inspired you to become a content creator on YouTube?
I wanted to have a voice, document my opinions about different topics, and have a platform that gives people an idea about who I am and what my views are.
On your YouTube channel, you have talked about series of things, can you share some with us?
Most of my videos are a combination of faith, lifestyle, and study. In “Being a woman; the untold reality”, I talked about the wide gap between the consequences faced by girls if they make wrong choices, compared to those faced by boys. I encouraged young girls to be twice as more intentional about their choices because society is still very far from achieving gender equality. It is a very controversial conversation that I would have a million times… I do not shy away from speaking the truth even if the majority of people do not want to listen…
What is your experience as a Nigerian Muslim woman schooling & living in the States?
My experience has been beautiful Alhamdulillāh. I am a very confident person, and I hold on to my faith dearly. The few times people have passed not-so-friendly remarks about my faith or my dressing, it had little or no effect on me. It is hard to be in an environment where you are a minority, but my relationship with Allah has grown exponentially. I wouldn’t change a thing; I love it here!
Being a Muslimah, has that in any way impacted your career decisions?
Hmmm, Yes. There are so many career options I have, but I keep asking myself about the permissibility in the religion and the effect on my relationship with Allah. Being in Academia is one of my many superpowers, and I hold on to it because it does not conflict with my faith.
And would you say, your being a Muslimah, has played any role in your life?
Alhamdulillāh, being a Muslimah has given me strength on my good and not-so-good days. I draw a lot of strength from the power of Dua (prayers), and my spiritual relationship with Allah gives me a lot of resilience and focus. I am grateful to Allah for gifting me Islam, Alhamdulillāh…
What is your advice for Muslim students in the university?
My advice is for them to be laser-focused, take their time to explore new things that can help them discover their strength. They should be deliberate about who they would like to be in the future, as this will guide a lot of vital decisions they make, such as the choice of friends and choice of spouse.
What is your advice for Muslimahs generally?
My advice for Muslimahs is that they do not let go of their dreams and aspirations as their relationship with Allah grows. As long as their dreams are compliant with the laws of the religion, they have a right to seek any level of education and live a fulfilled life in this world while focusing on the Hereafter.