A new scholarship established by Adedotun (Ade) Sali, MASc 13, and Opeyemi Sali, MEng 13, has emboldened Black students enrolled in key STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines at Concordia.
Started by the Toronto-based couple with a gift of $7,500 in 2022, the annual Adedotun and Opeyemi Sali Scholarship in Computer Science and Software Engineering is open to second-year Black undergraduates at Concordia’s Gina Cody School.
Ade, a cybersecurity senior manager at PwC Canada, and Opeyemi, a global security operations manager at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, describe the initiative as a way to pay it forward.
“As past recipients of financial support ourselves, we want to inspire the next generation in tech,” says Ade.
What the Salis have done will also help address a systemic scarcity, the cause of which has been tricky to diagnose because of a lack of data — Canada has not yet made it a national practice to collect facts and statistics about education through the lens of race.
If this changes, however, the analysis of such data could help to encourage more diversity in STEM, an imperative to both grow Canada’s economy and respond to many of society’s most urgent challenges.
That such a scholarship has been put forth by two former international students who came to Concordia to seek advanced degrees in information systems security is notable.
When the Salis graduated from one of Nigeria’s premier state schools — Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in the city of Ogbomosho, Oyo State — with BTech degrees in computer science, they were decisive about what kind of future they wanted for themselves.
“It was a crucial time in our lives because we were a few months into our marriage and embarked on this new chapter,” says Ade. “We did quite a lot of research on Montreal and Concordia. By the time we arrived, we felt quite prepared to do what it took to improve our education and professional prospects.”
Armed with master’s degrees in a critical field — IT security — the Salis have since charted significant careers. Before she accepted her current position with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in 2021, Opeyemi, among other roles, worked as a security consultant for Morgan Stanley and held various roles over the course of five years at Deloitte Canada.
Ade’s resumé also includes a five-year stint at Deloitte, where he served as a cybersecurity manager. He joined PwC in 2020. The Salis are now thrilled to be in a position to give back.
“The ability to impact someone else’s life — someone who you do not know — is incredibly powerful,” says Opeyemi.