Temi Toba-Oluboka

By Troy Langstaff

The life of a student-athlete is quite busy, to say the least. Now imagine being a conference all-star in your sport while also balancing the workload of a master’s degree.

That’s exactly what track and field thrower Temi Toba-Oluboka (BSc’20) is doing. The three-time AUS all-star is currently in the first year of an MSc in Psychiatry Research here at Dalhousie, where she also benefits from the Black & Gold Academic Success Program for student-athletes.

The Black & Gold Academic Success Program is supported by Dalhousie donors – alumni who make annual gifts through the Dalhousie Fund – and helps varsity athletes achieve their academic goals through study skills seminars, tutoring and study halls, among other things.

A level playing field for academics and athletics

A three-time AUS weight throw champion, Temi Toba-Oluboka has spent a lot of her life balancing sport and school, and says she is “grateful to be a part of an athletic program that not only celebrates my athletic accolades but my academic achievements as well.” She didn’t join the track and field team until her second year of university, but her transition into athletics wasn’t as hard as she expected it to be.

“I think that is because of the way Dalhousie Athletics approaches academics,” she says. “School is the first priority, and resources like the Black & Gold Academic Success program foster that mentality. It keeps you motivated but also supports you if you ever need any academic support; for me, this program was incredibly helpful in getting tutoring for one of my courses in my third year.”

During her undergraduate degree, Temi Toba-Oluboka held two summer studentships (2019 and 2020) within the Faculty of Medicine. These studentships were focused on bipolar disorder and insulin resistance as well as the potential antidepressant efficacy of PPAR-y agonists in bipolar depression and major depression.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Neuroscience in 2020, she headed back home to Calgary, where she took a gap year while working at the University of Calgary as a research assistant in the department of surgery. Then, it was back to Dal.

Thanks to athletics donors for showing support through the Dalhousie Fund

“Entering my master’s, I was not sure if it would be possible for me to continue my athletics, but having the support of the Dal Fund made that possible and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to still be training and competing at the graduate level,” she explains, a nod to the donors who strengthen the Black & Gold Academic Success Program.

During the recent COVID-19 pause on competition, Toba-Oluboka has been keeping busy with her thesis in the Early Psychosis Program at Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

“My project is looking at assessing clozapine eligibility in early phase psychosis,” she explains. “The project will compare glutamate levels between clozapine-eligible patients with early psychosis, and treatment responders using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to measure glutamate.”

She is also currently working on a systematic review project investigating the link between improvements in depressive symptoms and improvements in metabolic dysfunction in mood disorder patients on diabetic medications.

“Something I value in research is work that focuses on the patient as the centre of care and the potential to improve patient care through the research work that is being done,” says Temi Toba-Oluboka. “I feel very lucky and have been so fortunate to be a part of projects that are doing that.”

The Dalhousie Fund helps create outstanding learning experiences and connects students with scholarships, bursaries and other important resources. Donations to the Department of Athletics and Recreation provide Dal Tigers with the tools they need to succeed, finding balance between athletics and academics. You can empower students to make the most of this formative time by making a gift today.