Featured Faculty Profile
Senior Professor - DeVry University Chicago
Teaching field: Computer Information Systems (CIS)
"DeVry students want hands-on learning—to get on the computer and do real work. I can communicate at their level of understanding and bring them up to where I want them to be. It has gained me the respect and trust of my students."
Where I come from
My parents came from Nigeria and I was raised in England. Growing up, I absorbed my parents' belief in education. They told us, "It doesn't matter what we give you today or what you inherit from us, education is the only valuable inheritance. That is the only thing you have that is truly yours." That has been true for me. I got my bachelor's in Data Systems Management at Pratt Institute in New York and my master's in Computer Science at City College of the City University of New York. I am now working on my Ph.D. and into the writing process of my dissertation on computer and data security.
After getting my master's degree, I worked in Nigeria as a Systems Analyst at a bank for two years, developing applications and training people on how to use them. Then I worked with the Canadian High Commission and the United Nations for a few more years. For the UN, I developed databases for health issues in Africa, wrote applications and reports, and again did all the training. I found I liked teaching and was good at it. Upon my return from Nigeria, 16 years ago, I found a job with DeVry University Toronto, and have been with the university since.
Teaching classes, developing courses
In addition to teaching classes in database, programming, ethics and security, I have developed a number of database courses for DeVry University Online and I chair the Database sequence at the DeVry University Chicago campus. Currently I am developing two new courses for the CIS Enterprise Computing Track, for which we have partnered with the IBM Academic Initiative. The goal of both programs is to train students on IBM tools and platforms so that they can fill technical positions with IBM clients and business partners.
I am currently developing the Advanced DB2 course for IBMi and z/OS, the IBM midrange and mainframe computing platforms. Students taking these courses will first develop the database on these platforms, then develop applications that access the database. I am working very closely with IBM on this. I love it; it helps me stay on top of my game.
What I bring to class
I bring my ability to work with advanced technology—anything out there that's new, I want to learn it because I want to be at the forefront of what's happening in the industry. In addition, my online experience helps me in the classroom. DeVry University takes a blended learning approach, where on-campus courses have an online component. The software used for online work is hosted remotely, so students don't have to come on campus to do their assignments.
I also bring a desire to share what I know. I love watching the expression on a student's face when the light bulb goes on. I want to make sure that the light bulb goes on for every individual student in my class.
Relating to students on a trust basis
DeVry University students want hands-on learning — to get on the computer and do real work. I communicate at their level of understanding and bring them up to where I want them to be. It has gained me the respect and trust of my students. They feel free to come to me for academic advice and help even after our class ends.
For example, four of our students were hired by a large corporation at the same time as students from some big-name universities in Chicago. The students from the big-name schools had higher starting salaries, but the DeVry University students were doing the work. When the DeVry University graduates found out about the salary differences, they were very upset. They came to me for advice and I counseled them on how to take the issue to their manager. They did, he looked into it, and their salaries were adjusted up.
Bringing careers into focus
The first day in each class, we look at IT job descriptions on the internet so that students can see the skills required for specific positions. CIS graduates start careers as tech support specialists, programmers, application developers, data modelers, software engineers, systems developers, web designers, software support specialists, and network engineers, to name a few. I relate the job descriptions to the objectives of the class they are in and talk about what other classes develop more skill sets that will be needed for those positions.
I also bring in guest speakers, especially DeVry University graduates, to talk about how to succeed in the industry. That way, my current students can relate to what's out there and understand what their CIS degree can get them.
Building blocks build skills
My goal is to ensure that students thoroughly understand the material, to the point that they remember it 10 years later. CIS courses are designed as building blocks. Students take logic first. They add a programming language to it in the next class. The third course, the database class, uses their logic and programming skills. Within the database sequence, they may take the Oracle course, then an IBM DB2 course. As each block builds on another, they reinforce and apply what they already learned.
The personal touch
I email students who go absent from class. I keep in touch with students by email and phone. I encourage them to join professional organizations, attend meetings, and start networking while they are still in college. I am active myself in the Black Data Processing Association, and recommend it to students. You don't have to be African American to join; in fact, most members aren't.
A DeVry University education is invaluable. It is very well-rounded, yet DeVry University students graduate well ahead of their peers at other colleges because of the way classes are structured. When someone transfers in from another college, I ask why. The transferring student usually mentions the hands-on learning, the practical curriculum, and the rapid completion of their degree. Hands-on experience sets DeVry University apart.
Our graduates find jobs faster too. Within 6 months of graduating, a large percentage of DeVry University Computer Information Systems graduates are working in the field, and they start with the advantage of hands-on learning that other students don't get. You can see the current actual employment rates of our graduates by visiting the DeVry.edu web site.