Dr. Elochukwu Ukwandu, is a father of three, who worked hard to make a successful life for him and his family. He was one of YTF’s first employees in Nigeria. He recently shared with us how he reached where he is today as well as how he has witnessed YTF grow over the past 20 years.
Dr. Elo Ukwandu attended Imo State University in Owerri, Nigeria from 1995-1999 to complete his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He then went on to complete a Master of Science from 2009-2011 at Imo State University as well. He decided to continue his education by attending Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland from 2015-2019 where he completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Cyber Security. He is currently a Lecturer in Computer Security at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Dr. Ukwandu began his career in Computing with the Project Monitoring Bureau, Imo State Government House. From there he migrated to Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) in early 2000 as one of our pioneer staff. He shared our passion for training and educating youth on soft skills in computing. When Dr. Ukwandu worked with YTF, we were teaching students primarily to use basic Microsoft Office, and programming in HTML and Microsoft Visual Basic.
The first PC’s used at YTF’s first community technology and learning center in Nigeria were purchased from Zinox Technologies with a grant from Microsoft. YTF pioneered the “digital village” movement in sub-saharan Africa.
When YTF started its work in Nigeria, he said, it was a place many called home and anyone, irrespective of their background, could come and learn technology for free. YTF provided the space, computers, instructors, electricity, and anything else needed, all an individual had to do was enroll. The technology field was mainly men at the time and YTF was expressive about women joining. “YTF is visionary because their passion was with youth and digital inclusion. From the very beginning YTF was an organization determined to tackle the digital divide,” shared Dr. Ukwandu. YTF is coming into our 20th year of work. He shared that it has grown from cradle to a vision of greater impact of youth across nations.
Dr. Ukwandu shared advice that he has for students that want to be successful in the future, “I tell young people to ask themselves the question. Why did God create you? Every one of us has a purpose, we simply have to define that purpose. Then pursue it.” He explained that coming from Nigeria, he was the “poorest of the poor.” “I was interested in technology and knew that pursuing higher education in this space will provide an opportunity for me to rise up,” expressed Dr. Ukwandu.
He worked through school and shared that some nights he was only sleeping for four hours a night. The rest of the day he was either working or studying. His dedication throughout his education has brought him to where he is today. “I strongly believe that there is opportunity for everyone who works for it,” said Dr. Ukwandu, “there will be obstacles along the way but that can’t stop you from pushing through the wall.”
When asked if he ever returned to the YTF classrooms what course he would want to teach he said, “Cyber-Hygiene.” He explained that the class would be about personal development, self-reflection and discovery. He wants to help our community, especially young people because many do not understand the concept of ‘cyber-hygiene.’ People don’t always understand that what they post online can be seen by anyone. He would want to teach youth that they need to be conscious of what they post and what they say to the public because what you say on the internet, you are saying to the whole world.
We are extremely proud of Dr. Ukwandu and his accomplishments and are honored that we are part of his story and he is a part of the YTF family. We are also so grateful for his contributions to YTF over the years.