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Finding love in the lab

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February 13, 2017

Alumnus Michael Okoroafor, master in chemistry, was the youngest of four siblings growing up in eastern Nigeria.

His mother was a subsistence farmer, and his father was a railroad engineer.

Each day on his way home from school, Okoroafor and his siblings would meet their mother at the farm to help out before going home to study.

“Education was very important for the family because that is the reason my dad got the kind of job he had,” said Okoroafor.

One day, his high school chemistry teacher pulled him aside and advised him to major in chemistry.

“When it became time for me to go to college, that one seed that my chemistry teacher planted in me was what drove my mindset.”

Okoroafor wanted to be a polymer chemist after taking an elective during his senior year at the University of Nigeria.

Afterwards, he moved to the United States and earned his master’s degree from University of Detroit Mercy.

Today, Okoroafor is the vice president of global sustainability and packaging innovation at McCormick.

Part of his position requires him to understand farming communities like the one he was raised in.

He says that watching his family work hard on the farm as a young person has taught him the importance of supporting these communities so that they can provide a better life for their children.

“It motivates you to appreciate the value of hard work. It also tells you that getting an education will probably allow you to approach your work differently,” said Okoroafor.

Read more of Okoroafor’s full story in Chemical & Engineering News at: cen.acs.org/articles/95/i1/Career-Ladder-Michael-Okoroafor.html

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