graduate M.P.A. student
Hometown: Kaduna, Nigeria
High School: Kaduna Capital School, Nigeria
I am strong.
I am inspired.
I am a change agent.
I grew up amid constant civil unrest. It was a depressing cycle: every other year, or so, a riot breaks out, people die, the government institutes a curfew, soldiers are deployed to patrol affected neighborhoods … then curfew gets lifted, we mourn and bury the dead, we rebuild vandalized properties and life continues until the next tribal or religious provocation. I knew that was a terrible way to live but my parents made it clear that all we could do was pray and hope for the best. It was dangerous enough without anyone in the family playing activist. The safe thing to do was to remain as inconspicuous as possible and be alert.
I can’t tell which one led to or compounded the other, but the issue of poverty was just as disheartening as that of insecurity. My heart sank every time I saw children of school age roaming the streets (some barefooted), begging or hawking. My heart’s greatest desire was to be able to help alleviate the type of suffering, pain and insecurity that I witnessed growing up. But I constantly felt inadequate. I felt I had to work hard to attain an affluent and influential position to be able to help. My widow’s might wouldn’t do. That was part of my motivation for enrolling in the master’s program in public administration at the University of Baltimore.
While my desire to do big things that would change the lives of the less privileged is still alive and strong, my experience at UB has made me more conscious of the fact that even small good deeds do go a long way. Last year, during UB’s annual Community Service Day, I volunteered with some very amazing people to make blankets for homeless kids. It felt like the most important thing I had ever done in my entire life. I had the opportunity to go deliver those blankets to one of the homes and it was an honor … it mattered! It may not change the world (all at once), but if it puts a smile on someone’s face, or makes them feel less alone, or keeps them warm for a night, or makes their day go by a bit easier, or makes them feel that someone cares, it matters!