Editor's Note: This profile is part of a series that features the stories of graduates whose outstanding journeys have culminated in a UMGC degree.
For most of his adult life in his native country, Nigeria, Ayegbajeje worked as a fashion designer. “I started sewing in 1975 and by 1978 I had my own shop,” he said.
Ayegbajeje further honed his craft at Yaba College of Technology, where he completed a program in dressmaking. Over the years, he carved out a comfortable career for himself and his family. He was doing well in his chosen profession when a series of events, notably an economic downturn, impelled him to emigrate to the U.S. in 2002.
Like many new immigrants to the U.S., Ayegbajeje had to make a fresh start when he arrived. “What I was doing back home was not really viable for me to continue here,” he said. “I was already over 40 years old, and I had to look for another line of work.”
Ayegbajeje decided to enter the healthcare field. One step at a time, he worked his way up the ladder. He started out as a certified nursing assistant. From there he worked his way to a licensed practical nurse. By 2011 he had started taking the prerequisite courses to become a registered nurse.
But Ayegbajeje’s path was anything but straightforward. He changed schools twice, endured some stops and starts, and questioned his career direction, switching from healthcare services to business and then back again to healthcare. Balancing full-time work with a challenging course load, Ayegbajeje finally earned his associate degree and became a registered nurse in 2020.
In 2020, approaching 60, Ayegbajeje’s goal was finally in sight. He entered UMGC’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (RN to BSN), happy that he found an online degree path that would make it easier for him to balance work with school.
Now, at age 62 and the assistant director of nursing at home healthcare agency, Ayegbajeje joins his sons as a college graduate. “My first son graduated from the University of Lagos in 2005, and my youngest son graduated from Howard University in 2018,” he said. “I am so happy I made it at last.”
Ayegbajeje can now take a breath, sit back and reflect on his accomplishment. Through the setbacks and bumps along the way, he never lost his drive to succeed, always adhering to a simple philosophy.
“Anyone can break big problems into small pieces,” he said. “Just focus on one class at a time, and within that one assignment at a time. If you can do that, then you will win.”