Experiment, experiment, experiment! : Junior ‘Debo’ Adebayo

Rootencial is proud to introduce Junior “Debo” Adebayo. Debo grew up in London but hails from Nigeria and, at 27 years of age, today he is a successful doctor in the UK’s National Health Service.

Debo loved biology at school and excelled in his exams. From an early age, he was fascinated by the human body; how and why it worked the way it did. Debo tells us he was drawn to a career in medicine by his passion for human biology and by documentaries on television, showing doctors in hospital and surgeons operating on transplants.

Some more unusual factors also pushed Debo towards a career in science.

“When I was a kid, I heard about Dolly the Sheep being cloned. That was one of the really cool things happening in science at the time… All the superheroes I looked up to as a kid were clever and came from scientific backgrounds, like Batman, Spiderman, and Ironman.

“A lot of the people, both in fiction and reality that I looked up to, were scientists and had done some really cool stuff. And that was my main goal: to do fun stuff!”

Experiment, expriment, experiment: Junior "Debo" Adebayo

His parents were also a leading source of inspiration. Born to first-generation immigrants from Nigeria, Debo grew up in a council estate in London. While Debo attended school, his father was busy studying to become a lawyer. Books were a permanent feature in the Adebayo household.
“I grew up around a lot of books. I looked up to my dad; I wanted to be like him. So, when he was reading, I’d sit with him and read as well. He’d have his books and I’d have my books. Education was really valued in our house; my parent’s support was a huge reason why I ended up doing medicine.”

The journey to becoming a doctor wasn’t always easy. Debo hadn’t done much research on the A-levels he would need to get into medical school; he realized relatively late in the day that he’d need to keep studying Chemistry, in addition to Biology and Maths. In offering advice to the next generation, Debo underscores the importance of doing your research in order to achieve your goals.

Debo was admitted to medical school, having attained top grades at A-level, but faced obstacles even after arriving there.

“One of the biggest challenges I faced [at medical school] was just fitting in. I was a bit of a non-conformist; I was from the other side of the tracks, as a first-generation immigrant growing up on a council estate.”

“I showed up to medical school wearing a hoody and a cap. I stood out; there were all these posh, well-off guys and girls who had an uncle or aunt working in medicine, and who knew what to expect. I didn’t, so it was a bit of a learning curve for me.”

Debo successfully turned his dream of becoming a doctor into a reality. He is living proof that, if you’re willing to work hard and focus, you can achieve your goals. As Debo puts it himself, “the universe has a way of giving you what you want.”

Asked what advice he would give a younger version of himself, Debo offers two recommendations. First, follow your passions. “Go to what draws you; do what you’re naturally interested in. Don’t pursue something just because it’s popular.”

Second, Debo says it’s important to decide who you should listen to and take advice from. Seek out those people with experience and who have your best interests at heart, he suggests. Many people may have opinions and ideas, but they may not know your field – and they may not always be benevolent. Be careful, then, about who you seek out for advice.

Finally, he underscores the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new. “Experiment, experiment, experiment!”, Debo says. “The only way you can find out about stuff is if you try it. If it doesn’t work out, that’s fine. Move on to the next thing. Eventually, you’ll find something that fits you.”

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