Cisco Networking Academy Creates Future Leaders: Meet Ireoluwatonde Fasanu


Get all the backstories of our 2023 Cisco Networking Academy alumni award winners in this five-part series. In this third story, you’ll hear from young rising star and Future Leader award winner Ireoluwatonde Fasanu as she describes what success and giving back looks like, and how Cisco Networking Academy helped her to chase her dreams.


While some people have life-long career ambitions, others stumble across their calling almost by accident. Ireoluwatonde Fasanu, winner of the 2023 Future Leader award, is one such person who may have found her calling relatively late, but whose energy and dedication extends to roles where she demonstrates leadership beyond her experience.

Technology was bound to be Ireoluwatonde’s future as a student of Information and Communication Engineering at Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria. But in her first year of study, she felt the field was too broad, and she couldn’t see a clear path forward.

Making that struggle even harder, Ireoluwatonde’s mother passed-away while she was in her first year at college, and she felt she may not be able to go on. She took solace in reading about successful people who had also lost parents in their formative years and decided to focus on her studies.

“I wanted to prove to myself that no situation should be a hinderance to my dreams,” she says. “I gave my schoolwork my best shot at that time of my mourning and thankfully, I ended the semester with a straight-A result.”


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To have a story to tell others

“I didn't do this just for myself, I did it so that I would have a story to tell others who might have fallen in such time of adversity, or anyone who might be faced with such in the future,” says Ireoluwatonde, hinting at her leadership mindset.

That leadership was put to the test with a competition sponsored by the United Nations, in which young minds were encouraged to come up with sustainable solutions through technology, storytelling, marketing, and entertainment. Ireoluwatonde’s team was awarded the role of ambassadors for SDG 12—Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Ireoluwatonde says being an SDG ambassador “made me really proud and assured me that I can do anything I set my mind to achieve.”

Improving lives

More recently, Ireoluwatonde wrapped-up her final-year project in which she and her team designed and built an IoT-based Air Quality Monitoring System and a mobile app which sends warning messages to users and reads the general status of air quality. The system is designed for use by asthma sufferers, and while Ireoluwatonde recognizes there’s no cure for asthma, she hopes a system like this will help suffers manage their condition.

Ireoluwatonde says she is frequently appointed to lead teams like this, and that observing team-member’s strengths and weaknesses helps her delegate effectively. She asserts the key to success is in knowing when to compromise, and to listen to what team-members have to say, even when it may seem unimportant at the time.

These are leadership skills that Ireoluwatonde is certain to bring to networking and cybersecurity. After taking Cisco Networking Academy CCNA and Cybersecurity courses at university, Ireoluwatonde realizes she had found her calling.

Despite her lack of experience, Ireoluwatonde’s energy, compassion, and desire to improve lives make her a deserving Future Leader award winner. “Seeing that everyone around me is faring well enough or better than they were when I first met them is what brings me my highest form of happiness and satisfaction,” she says.


The Cisco Networking Academy Alumni Awards honor alums who have maximized their potential in the digital universe. Next “call for nominations” will be in May of 2024. If you missed our second story featuring the Rise Above award winner, you can read it here.