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Grad Spotlight: How Khadijat Kokumo Made the Most of Her Time at McCormick

Kokumo is graduating with a degree in biomedical engineering

When Khadijat Kokumo said yes to Northwestern Engineering, she had no idea what her next four years would look like.

She is forever grateful for her decision.

A biomedical engineering major, Kokumo is graduating this month from the McCormick School of Engineering. Kokumo made the most of her time in Evanston, serving as academic excellence chair and vice president of the National Society of Black Engineers. She was also involved in research at Northwestern and Johns Hopkins University, presenting her with the opportunity to speak at a conference and first-author an award-winning paper. Outside of engineering, Kokumo was the head manager of the Northwestern women’s basketball team and was a member of campus dance groups Refresh and K-Dance

Khadijat Kokumo

“They all left me with lifelong friends and a joy that will be hard to replace once I graduate,” Kokumo said.

In a Q&A, Kokumo reflected on her time at Northwestern Engineering.

Why did you decide to pursue engineering at Northwestern?
In high school, I knew I was interested in a science/engineering related field, and something about Northwestern's engineering program that left a mark on me was the commitment to research and engineering application, while also giving time for growth in unconventional areas such as arts and creativity. Northwestern was the best place for me to get a full college experience and the best engineering education. My involvement in a variety of spaces throughout my four years proved I made the right choice.

How did the Northwestern Engineering curriculum help build a balanced, whole-brain ecosystem around your studies in your major? 
The Engineering First courses allowed me to get a glimpse of a "typical engineer," which was really helpful because it is hard to know what engineering really is as a first-year student with little-to-no experience. Through these courses, I improved my academic writing, communication skills, design, and so many more skills that have carried me through in my other classes.

Something else that really allowed me to build a balanced curriculum was the abundance of biomedical engineering electives and technical electives in McCormick. I enjoyed my broader classes like Intro to Biomedical Engineering and Engineering Analysis, but being able to take everything learned in those classes and apply it to higher-level courses such as Medical Imaging and my capstone project was when I truly felt my education tying together.

What skills or knowledge did you learn in the undergraduate program that you think will stay with you for a lifetime?
There are a million skills I can name, but the one that really resonated with me the most is being OK with failure. I have learned that being able to bounce back after rejection or underperforming is so vital in and outside of college.

What's next? What are your short- and long-term plans/goals in terms of graduate studies and/or career path? 
After graduating, I will be working as a patent engineer at Foley & Lardner. My short-term goal within this company is to pass the patent bar and become registered, with the hope that long-term I can pursue a law degree.

What advice do you have for current and future Northwestern Engineering students?
My biggest advice, which seems a bit counterintuitive, is to step outside of engineering. I learned the most about myself and my engineering passions when I was doing non-engineering activities and talking to people outside of engineering spaces.