Shortly after coming to America from Africa in 2007, John Oyelakin was brought to a room unlike anything he'd ever seen in his native Nigeria.
“My professor gave me office space in his laboratory, which was down in the basement of the Mechanical Engineering Building. Buildings with basements are rare in Nigeria; I’d never seen one all my life until I came to Illinois, which was also my first time in the U.S.," says the Chevron subsea engineer, who's based back in Nigeria.
“Looking back, life in the basement day and night for those two years has formed part of my permanent memory of the U of I. Those tiny, elevated windows were the only connections to the outside world.
"The seclusion probably helped my focus on tasks at hand.”