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Meet the Grads: Damilola Fasinu, PhD

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From Lagos, Nigeria, Damilola Fasinu may receive the most degrees and certificates from West Virginia University this graduation season.  

Fasinu will receive two graduate degrees — a doctorate degree in human and community development from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and a master’s in integrated marketing communications from the Reed College of Media. She will also obtain two graduate certificates, one in community development policy and practice and another in project evaluation.

For her programs, she was tasked with conducting research, which she chose to focus on immigrant entrepreneurship in the United States.

“My research revealed the resilience and innovation that immigrant entrepreneurs bring to the U.S. economy,” she said. “It emphasized the need for greater support systems to ensure these visionaries not only survive but thrive.”

Her research was effective in one unforeseen way. Fasinu now has her own goals of entrepreneurship and designing eco-friendly garments.

“I aim to create a business that does more than generate profit, but uplifts and educates,” she said. “I envision nurturing a business that stands on the principles of innovation and sustainability, creating opportunities not just for myself but for others as well.”

Why did you choose to attend the WVU Davis College?

“I chose WVU Davis College because it resonates with my educational philosophy— a place where the intimacy of a close-knit academic community blends seamlessly with the expansive opportunities of a leading research university.”

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What resources or support systems did you find most helpful during your college journey, such as mentors, advisors or campus services?

“I was fortunate to have an incredible support system. Professor Colleen Moretz was a beacon of encouragement, pushing me toward educational competitions and design exhibitions that sharpened my prowess. Professor Michael Dougherty’s meticulous review of my research added layers of depth and quality. Professors Carrie White and Angela Uriyo, as part of my graduate committee, provided invaluable guidance.

“Services like WVU Career Services and Graduate Education and Life programs supported and guided me toward the culmination of a fruitful academic journey.”

What was your most valuable experience at the Davis College?

“The culmination of my doctoral research and the opportunity to present it was a defining moment for me at Davis College. It was a rewarding experience that signified the essence of my academic pursuit — bringing theoretical knowledge into practical, impactful discussions. This experience has cemented my resolve to contribute meaningful research that influences real-world change.”

What is your favorite memory from the Davis College?

“An unforgettable highlight during my time at Davis College was the honor of presenting my sustainable fashion design to President Gordon Gee. Standing there, sharing my work, I felt a profound connection to my goals and a reaffirmation of my path.”

Looking back, is there anything you wish you had known before starting college?

“I wish I had been more aware of the many opportunities laid out before every student. The plethora of resources, mentorships and platforms available are steppingstones to success. I now understand that the key to maximizing one's college experience is in actively seeking out these opportunities and leveraging them for personal and academic growth.”