‘They made me feel like I belonged’

Facing challenges is nothing new, but neuroscience freshman Divine Akinbobola has turned it up to a new level, marching and thriving in the Corps after losing her leg in 2019. 
(Photo courtesy of Divine Akinbobola)
Facing challenges is nothing new, but neuroscience freshman Divine Akinbobola has turned it up to a new level, marching and thriving in the Corps after losing her leg in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Divine Akinbobola)

Aggies are known for pushing boundaries and defying odds — and neuroscience freshman Divine Akinbobola is no exception. 

After losing her leg in a battle against cancer in 2019, Akinbobola said she had to adapt to a whole new world, but she didn’t let the challenges that came with her disability stop her from living her life. She joined the G1 outfit of the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M after accepting her admittance. 

Originally from Houston, Akinbobola joined her high school’s ROTC program after a teacher recommended her because of her determination post-surgery. While applying to colleges, Akinbobola said she was looking for programs that had an ROTC and equitable disability resources. 

“I chose Texas A&M because of the Corps of Cadets,” Akinbobola said. “It’s a program that no other school has. During high school ROTC I fell in love with the military culture. Losing my leg has made me appreciate Texas A&M more. I felt wanted, they made me feel like I belonged, to make me a better person, student and cadet.” 

At first, Akinbobola admitted she had skepticism about joining the Corps because of the physical demands of the organization.

“I was nervous at first,” Akinbobola said. “But my buddies gave me so much support. I’m so grateful for my outfit. They had never had someone with a disability in the outfit before. It was hard figuring out how to navigate that — it was slightly overwhelming. Coming into the Corps, I did not know how to run on my prosthetic leg. Throughout the semester, my friends taught me.” 

After the surgery, she became fascinated with how her brain coped with the loss of her leg. That fascination led her to pursue neuroscience. 

“I picked neuroscience because after my leg my brain was so affected by it,” Akinbobola said. “There were so many different sensations my brain felt, different kinds of pains, and I wanted to be able to understand that.” 

Between all the challenges and struggles, Akinbobola said she got through it all because of the support from her outfit. 

“Relationships are so important,” Akinbobola said. “My buddies are always there for me and support me unconditionally. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.” 

She said her best advice for anyone in a similar position would be to always try new things even if they’re intimidating. To cope with the adjustment of the surgery, Akinbobola said she incorporates humor in her life to keep things light. 

“People tend to give up before they even try,” Akinbobola said. “Don’t refuse to acknowledge it but instead work with being creative about how you do things. I know when I have to rest when I can’t do as many reps as everyone else and need to slow down. It’s all about adapting to the environment and rising above.” 

Divine Akinbobola is currently a member of Naval Company G-1, the “Ramblin’ Rogues.” (Photo courtesy of Divine Akinbobola)

The Corps holds a “Spend the Night with the Corps” program where prospective students spend the night with an outfit and do a few activities with them to learn about the life of a cadet. Akinbobola’s commanding officer, finance senior Jacob Britton, met her during her senior year of high school when she attended the event. 

“She surprised me a lot,” Britton said. “I wanted to figure out what her story was. When we spoke, I was trying to communicate that we wanted to challenge her — within reason, of course. My first impression of her was that she is headstrong. She is a fighter.” 

Britton said Akinbobola changed him as a leader.

“It has been eye-opening,” Britton said. “There’s a lot more to think about. When it comes to marching, we decided to put her in the block with everybody. It looked different but it’s all about adapting. The mechanics of prosthetic legs are also something I became familiar with, but it’s taught me to never be negative and always be thankful.” 

Telecommunication senior Sara Rubio served as Akinbobola’s mentor this past year. Mentors are seniors paired with freshmen to help them acclimate to the Corps and be role models for them. 

“Here at G-1, we pride ourselves on our family-style environment,” Rubio said. “When I first met Divine, we had an instant connection.” 

As her mentor, Rubio said she is always checking in on her, going out to eat and having physical training sessions.

“We go on a lot of runs and that looks a little different for her,” Rubio said. “I think I had originally overestimated her abilities and had a rude awakening. I looked up different workouts she could do and we started working together just the two of us.”

Rubio said Akinbobola continues to inspire her and teach her confidence. 

“Don’t get me wrong, the challenges make life a lot more interesting,” Akinbobola said. “But the victories are so much sweeter. I do it for myself, for God who gives me strength, for my buddies and for my outfit.” 

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  • R

    Ray HendryxMar 16, 2024 at 9:40 am

    You’re an inspiration to Aggies everywhere, even old geezers like me Stay after it, young lady! Red Eye 1, ’75

  • T

    Tracy KristofMar 9, 2024 at 1:48 pm

    You are an inspiration to us all Divine!
    May God continue to bless you.