Sherwood High School student navigates life's changes, dreams big
Ayokunle (Ayo) Popoola traveled a long way — a very, very long way — to find his home in Sherwood.
Now, after settling with his family in Northwest Oregon, it's a place he wouldn't mind living forever.
Originally from Nigeria, Africa, 15-year-old Popoola made his way to Sherwood and is currently working toward a career in the field of medicine.
His journey to Sherwood began at the age of 2 years old when Popoola's family moved from Nigeria to Moscow, Idaho.
"My mom got a teaching job there," he recalled. "She taught for the University of Idaho."
After almost a decade in Idaho, his family moved to Sherwood about 3½ years ago; Popoola is currently a sophomore at Sherwood High School.
After the momentous changes of moving from Nigeria to Idaho to Sherwood, Popoola is adjusting to life in Washington County and ready to make it his permanent home.
"Moscow is a really small town," he said. "When we first moved to Sherwood, it was kind of the same, kind of a small town, but then it started growing a lot. It's a perfect sized city."
Along with his school work, Popoola also dedicates much of his time to various Bowmen athletic teams, playing football and basketball, and running track.
"I started football during my freshman year," he said. "Basketball I've been playing for my entire life. Track I started in eighth grade."
When he's not participating in sports, reading or playing games on his PlayStation 4, Ayo, as he likes to be called, ponders a future career in medicine.
"I want to become a surgeon," Popoola said. "But that could always change. I'm not 100 percent settled on that, (but) it's what I'm thinking about right now."
It's a career he's been thinking about for a long time, and a career choice inspired — at least in part — by family and friends with connections to the field .
"My brother is studying right now to be a physician's assistant," he said. "His wife is also studying to be a physician's assistant."
After talking with one of his brother's friends who is studying to be a heart surgeon, Popoola thought, "This could actually be something I'm really interested in."
Regarding his upcoming college choice, Popoola said that he initially "wanted to go to an Ivy League school, (but) after talking with my mom and my uncle about it, I feel like I'm going to end up staying in state, because it's cheaper going to the University of Oregon or Oregon State University."
After college, Popoola hopes to attend a prestigious medical school, perhaps making his move to an Ivy League college then.
But for now, while still in Sherwood, Popoola is looking forward to attending the brand-new Sherwood High School once in-person instruction returns following the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I've only really been in the weight room and the gym," he said. "I'm excited. It's a new opportunity. I'm also kind of scared because it's so big. Figuring out where I'm going is going to be kind of hard."
Popoola has built friendships during his years in Sherwood and enjoys the many points of interest in Sherwood.
"I've explored most of Sherwood, if not all," he said. "In middle school, we would walk around a lot (since) we couldn't drive."
After college, once he gets into the medical field, Popoola said he would consider staying in Sherwood.
"I wouldn't mind living in Sherwood when I get a family," he said. "I feel like it's a great place here (for) kids. It's a tight-knit community and everybody really cares about each other."
Editor's note: This story originally appeared in our 2021 Amazing Kids special publication, inserted into newspapers the week of May 24, 2021. Find a digital version of the full publication on our website. This profile is sponsored by Sherwood Auto Repair.
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