More than a dozen kids from Winnipeg’s inner city patiently waited through a long convocation ceremony at the University of Manitoba on Thursday, all to congratulate one of their favourite mentors.
Tito Daodu was one of the 105 students who graduated from the University of Manitoba’s medical school on Thursday.
"Every step along the way, I always doubted that I would be able to do it or make it," said Daodu.
"So to be standing here today, and getting a diploma that says I’m going to be a doctor, it’s really exciting."
Daodu grew up in Winnipeg’s inner city and became a member of the West Broadway Youth Outreach centre when she was just eight years old.
"You’re not necessarily always supported by the people around you," said Daodu.
"And growing up in West Broadway, with all the staff supporting me all the way — it’s like I’ve had a cheerleader my entire life."
Now, at age 26, Daodu volunteers at the centre, mentoring young students. Her graduation marks the second time a West Broadway Youth Outreach child has graduated from medical school.
Ken Opaleke said Daodu has made a big impact on the children at the centre, which offers free after-school and summer programming.
"She’s telling them every chance she gets, ‘You know, when I was your age, I wasn’t half as smart as you.’ And you see the look in their eyes when they realize, ‘I’m as smart as the smartest person I ever met,’" said Opaleke. "That’s huge."
Fathi Oladeji is one of those children. At 11 years old, he says Daodu is one of his idols.
"I talked to her about being a doctor and how hard it is going to be," said Oladeji.
He said he’s already started studying hard, inspired by Daodu’s determination.
"I already got two straight A’s," he said proudly.
He, like nearly a dozen other students from the centre, was extremely excited for Daodu on Thursday. The group dressed up in matching T-shirts, painted her name on their faces, and showered her with gifts before and after her convocation and erupted in cheers when her name was called.
Opaleke said he hopes to see more students do the same. He has a goal of seeing 10 West Broadway Youth Outreach children become doctors before he retires.