Full Circle with Matthew Onojafe
There are few times in life where we can say that a lifetime of events comes FULL CIRCLE. Matthew Onojafe, is a father, engineer and life motivator. The past year changed his life for the better and he can in part blame the pandemic for that. Like many of us who took unexpected hits during COVID-19, Matthew learned to self-motivate, adapt, persevere, and make decisions that would shape the next chapter of his life.
Matthew Onojafe is a fiber optic engineer by trade. Engineering has been deeply rooted in his veins since childhood. He has always been excited to problem solve by taking things apart and building them back. He recalls at 8 years old taking apart a television after a thunderstorm caused a power outage. By no surprise, he found himself studying Fiber Optic engineering in college. Fiber Optics is the study of light. Matthew explains, “There is no faster technology than light; nothing travels faster than the speed of light. Fiber Optics is how we transmit information using light. My study is conceptual theory of how we transmit light through cables.”
Matthew became the account manager for National Technologies (NTI), a fiber optics integration firm. NTI’s focus is outside plants to include underground and aerial installations. One of Matthew’s favorite projects was leading the implementation and fiber termination for the Metro’s Silver Line to Dulles Airport. Matthew exclaimed, “I was in charge of the Project for Metro’s new line from DCA to Dulles airports.I had to go on site to the new platforms in Reston. Fiber optics installation and splicing on that Metro line.” Matthew also speaks fondly of the project he worked on that installed traffic lights on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery Bridge. As he recalls. “A few years ago there were no traffic lights. Now the existing traffic lights are run off of fiber optic cables. We bid and won the opportunity to run those lines"
In March 2020 the world was seized by a Global pandemic. There were little to no industries unaffected or untouched. With mandatory localized quarantines, information technology and telecommunication soared in dependency. The workforce became virtual at large. Zoom, Microsoft teams and other digital platforms were in high demand. Still, National Technology saw a decline in service forcing them to restructure the company and lay off employees. Despite the irony, even businesses centralized around broadband connection took a hit.
Coincidentally, Matthew launched his business Jafe Cycling just two months earlier. His passion of riding bikes with his son Noah turned into the opportunity of a lifetime. Matthew now focused on cycling no longer as a side hustle but as a full-fledged career. Using his know-how in Engineering, Matthew trained cyclists and refurbished bikes. During this time, bikes were hard to come by as people turned to them as a top choice in self-care and fitness.
Beyond the business, cycling was a therapeutic outlet for Matthew. To hear him describe cycling is like listening to a Robert Frost poem. It didn't take much for Matthew to see an even greater opportunity to help his community.
Between the social unrest and the way the pandemic was unraveling in the African-American community, my primary focus was ‘How Can I Help?’ and ‘How can I encourage more people to Ride Bikes’? I don't want to build a bike shop, I want to build a community. A place where individuals can come not just to get their bike’s serviced but a place where they can learn tips for riding, tricks for fixing bikes, safety measures, spin classes and ultimately a healthy lifestyle. We will reach out to at-risk youth in the African American community as an alternative sport to the traditional basketball and football.