Beyond STEM: The Nigerian Challenging Career Stigmas

Peace Hyde
Published 21 days ago
Eno Uduok image supplied

Through Naija Comm, Texas-based Eno Oduok is challenging career stigmas in the Nigerian community and educating people about professions they didn’t think existed.

Providing alternative career options to professionals, first generation Nigerian-American Eno Oduok has broken the norm herself.

She is the founder of Naija Comm, an online space catering to Nigerians in the creative industries looking for career paths other than what is considered “traditional” in their community.

“Texas has the [biggest] Nigerian community in America so I was always surrounded by people who shared the same cultural heritage as me. The only thing that was different was a lot of people were in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and were doctors, engineers or lawyers and in Nigerian communities and the overall African community, there is always an emphasis on pursuing traditional paths,” says Oduok.

With a strong affinity for the media and creative arts such as graphic design, communication and social media, Oduok struggled to find role models or peers in her community who shared the same interests.

“They were all in pharmacy or something traditional. I’ve seen probably one or two people who did arts but it wasn’t emphasized enough… I was looking for Nigerians in communications and couldn’t see [any] but if you look up Nigerians in medicine, so many pages pull up online,” attests Oduok, a Bachelor of Arts/Science graduate from the University of Houston in Texas.

That was the catalyst to create the first platform to connect and empower Nigerian creatives and professionals in overlooked fields such as communications, business and the arts.

“Naija Comm is a community-based media platform and creative hub here to break barriers and challenge stigmas in the community. It started a few days before #EndSARs went viral online last year and has been growing since. We have had various guest speakers such as Olympian basketball player Erica Ogwumike, Bel-Air actor Olly Sholotan, and other creative entrepreneurs.”

In addition to this, Naija Comm has also partnered with global streaming platforms like HBO, spotlights the accomplishment of Nigerian celebrities like Grammy award-winner Burna Boy as well as provides virtual networking events, newsletters and more. The platform, purely social, exists on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

“We made it on the Forbes 30 under 30 2022 list in the media category for the US which was a great moment. There are a lot of communities where STEM is heavily emphasized but we have other non-Nigerians on our platform as well. We serve a bigger purpose and are challenging career stigmas and teaching people about the careers they are not accustomed to,” says Oduok.

From collaborating with WhatsApp to highlighting the achievements of Nigerian-Greek basketball superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, Oduok wants to amplify voices and stories in the Nigerian creative sector through billboards, reels, blog posts, and more.