Fung Feature: Khowa Agbojo, MEng ’21 (BioE)
On her career transition into bioengineering and desire to create opportunities for people in the developing world
Khowa Agbojo is pursuing a Master of Engineering in bioengineering. Prior to enrolling in the MEng program, Khowa earned her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with a biomedical specialization at the University of Calgary.
Here, she shares her academic and professional interests, her personal passion projects, and the impact she wants to make on the world.
What do you study and why did you choose it?
My undergraduate degree is in chemical engineering and currently I am in the Bioengineering MEng program here at Berkeley. I chose to study these two fields because their combination opens incredibly interesting opportunities in the biotechnology field. When I first became interested in bioengineering, I thought I wanted to create the world’s best artificial heart. Then, I took a class that showed me how scientists and engineers were growing new cells and tissues for therapeutic purposes, and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. So I pivoted.
Now with a combination of chemical and bioengineering education, I am poised to make a significant contribution to the efforts that biotech companies make to bring their revolutionary technology to the people that need it.
Can you tell us more about the BioTech/MedTech affinity group you are leading?
The vision that my co-lead and I have for the Biotech/MedTech affinity group is to create a community for people interested in these industries, where we can share things like connections, news, job opportunities, and tips to help each person succeed in the field. We host events such as alumni panels and speaker series so that students can learn more about the industries and be as prepared as possible upon the completion of our program.
What are your professional goals?
I like to describe my professional goals by stating what I want to accomplish and not where I want to be, so I can travel down whichever path leads me to my goal.
While it would be nice to be an executive at a biotech company or to own my own company, what I really want is to make a measurable difference in the efficiency of process development in the biotech industry. Wherever I’m able to do that is where I’ll go, and hopefully, I’ll excel on that path.
What kind of impact do you want to have on the world?
I want to create something — be it a product, or an institution — that provides opportunities for people in the developing world, particularly my home country of Nigeria, to improve their stations in life. There is so much undeveloped talent and untapped potential in many developing countries and all people need is a little help. I’d like to see a world where there isn’t such a large chasm between developed and developing countries and I want to do my part to make that happen.
What are some of your favorite non-academic hobbies outside of academics?
I’ve been described as a person who is interested in everything and that is pretty much the case. I like learning and that means I like a lot of things so I cycle my hobbies to fit the season and my mood.
Three main hobbies of mine right now are digital art, jazz piano, and personal financial education. I am a person who has many interests so I try to choose hobbies that are quite different from my chosen career path to keep the variety in life. Having said that, I am currently using some of my personal financial education to build a portfolio of biotech stocks.
Do you have any personal projects you are working on?
I’m currently working on writing and animating a short film. The first step in this process is learning how to draw, hence my digital art hobby. It’s a really interesting process especially since I didn’t know anything about it before deciding to do it. My favourite part at the moment is designing my main character. I have never had as much appreciation for the people behind TV shows as I do now. The amount of attention to detail that goes into this process is overwhelming at times. Because my main character is in her mid-twenties, I essentially have to develop twenty something odd years of life implicitly into her day-to-day. It’s crazy, but also really fun.