Nigerian American Omolara Ojo understands the importance of incoming students seeing people that look like them in leadership roles on campus, and has dedicated her time at Worcester State to making sure that this happens.
Written by Jess Evora, Assistant Director, OSILD
Photos provided by O. Ojo
Massachusetts-native Omolara Ojo is a going into her final year here at Worcester State University. She is a proud Nigerian American who moved to Worcester from Cambridge, Mass. before starting her first year here on campus. When Omolara first started as a student here, she decided she would waste no time getting involved.
She served as a member of Third World Alliance (TWA) during her first year. In her second year, Omolara served as President of Amnesty International, a group that advocated for human rights across the world. The group no longer exists, but Omolara is proud of what they were able to accomplish during her tenure.
Omolara has been a long-term member of TWA since first joining. TWA is a group that focuses on bringing multiculturalism, pluralism, and diversity to campus and to the greater Worcester community. She served as a general member/treasurer her first year with the organization, and then Vice President in her second year with TWA. She is proud of her contribution to the organization.
“It was a difficult year when I was VP because we were understaffed,” Omolara said. As Vice President, it was Omolara’s responsibility to fill any gaps. She therefore served as an Executive Board member, as well as a chair person for planning events. She explained that it was certainly a challenge, but one that she was able to overcome.
Omolara is now going into her fourth year with TWA as a dedicated general member. When she is not fulfilling her responsibilities with the organization, you can find her either in class, or in the Living Room on the second floor of the Student Center.
Omolara recently sat down with us to share what she has learned through her involvement on campus.
How do you think you’ve grown as a leader during your time at Worcester State?
”I think I’m more open to talking to not only faculty and staff within the school, but I’m also more comfortable talking to business owners,” Omolara said.
“I think interacting with the Student Involvement Office, and other administrative offices that I wouldn’t have normally interacted with outside of student leadership positions, has been a real benefit for me,” Omolara said. “Sometimes we [students] complain in silence, and don’t say anything. So in a way I’m more proactive now.”
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned about leadership through your time here?
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned is that you can’t please everyone,” Omolara said. “It’s such a tough thing to be a leader.”
“People don’t know the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes,” Omolara said. “That was something I realized, but it only really hit me when I became an E-Board member for TWA.
“Sometimes you can get so close to your goal, and one small thing can cause an event to not happen, but you just have to keep going,” Omolara said. “If I can’t do everything, I’m going to do what I can do to the best of my ability. I’d rather have one great event, than have 20 small events that are sub-par.”
Representation in the Community
“I identify as an African-American woman.” Omolara said. “I am Nigerian American, and I think representation is very important.”
“Growing up, there were always people that looked like me,” Omolara said. “Then I went to college and the hallway that I lived in was predominantly White. That was an adjustment. It’s made me more self-aware,” Omolara said.
“I never thought about race and my womanhood until I got to college,” Omolara said. “Even just to see someone of dark skin, having that representation is so important.”
Omolara explained that this is the reason she pushes herself to get involved and stay involved.
We hope she continues to do just that. Thank you Omolara for your contribution to the Worcester State community.
Have you found your reason for getting involved? If not, then stop by the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development on the second floor of the Student Center, and our friendly staff will help you discover your reason for getting involved. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you bump into Omolara during your visit!