Adeolu Akinyemi: Hello Nike, can you please introduce yourself?
Adeolu Akinyemi: A little about your background, what you currently do and your aspirations
adenikeoke: My name is Adenike Oke. I am currently located in New Jersey, United States. I just concluded my graduate studies at Seton Hall University and now hold a Master of Diplomacy & International Relations alonside a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in Public Service, Leadership and Governance. I also have a B.A in Linguistics from the University of Ibadan and attended Federal Government Girls College Oyo and Grace Children School, Lagos state Nigeria.
adenikeoke: I am currently working as the Program Manager for the Nigeria Leadership Initiative (NLI) and coordinate all the major initiatives and programs of the organization.
Adeolu Akinyemi: Interesting…that sounds like the CV of a Minister of some sort or Special adviser to the president to be. Tell me what do you see ahead?
adenikeoke: I have always had a passion for public sector work and getting involved with organizations and programs that provide services that would otherwise have been the jurisdiction of the government. I am especially passionate about education with a focus of leadership development. I believe that our society is very bereft of these very important areas and children and young people are not having the opportunity to be exposed to some very important skills. I see myself as someone who will spearhead and coordinate initiatives that will help to provide educational support resources to the younger generation especially in Nigeria
Adeolu Akinyemi: …inspiring, Great aspirations. I have a knack for knowing when I’ve hit an area of passion and talent. Can you talk a little about this?
adenikeoke: I have had the opportunity to be involved with organizations both in Nigeria and in the United States that have similar goals like Junior Achievement, the International Baccalaureate Organization, the Africa America Institute and the Educational Opportunity Program. It is such a great joy to see people getting support that they would otherwise never had had the opportunity to have and see the difference in the impact these programs have on repositioning them to focus on building the participants towards greatness
Adeolu Akinyemi: Given your passion for education, I can see you have done well yourself, tell me how have you managed to bag so many degrees. I happen to know that you are a very young lady.
adenikeoke: I have just made sure to make the best use of all the opportunities that have come across my way. I have had the grace and favor of just being in the right place at the appropriate time
Adeolu Akinyemi: Good, great stuff. Your interest in this area is contagious. I’ll like to know, I’m certain that being where you are hasn’t been a piece of cake. Can you share with us some of the achievements you are really happy about and what it has cost you?
adenikeoke: I will say one of the high points for me was when I graduated one of the top students in my class and as a result, was inducted into the United States MPA National Honors Program. I also had the opportunity while in graduate school to be selected for a diplomatic trip to some of the European Union institutions were we were hosted by a lot of the EU commissioners including the then President of the European Court of Justice , President Rodriguez Iglesias. However, the most treasurable moment for me was when seeing some of the students i had taught and tutored while in graduate school graduating with Bachelors degrees. I think for me being significant can only be achieved when you have had the opportunity to touch the lives of others. You have to understand the background of some of these
Adeolu Akinyemi: Hmmm…
Adeolu Akinyemi: Wow…
adenikeoke: students to know what i am talking about. While in school, i got a scholarship which required that i worked with a certain department in school. This department was the Educational Opportunity Program with the main goal of recruiting students from low-income areas and disadvantaged backgrounds with the main aim of providing them all the support they needed (financial, moral and academic) to get through college
Adeolu Akinyemi: You have mentioned some moments, I’ll like you to tell us something about two of them. How were you able to graduate as one of the best students in your class. Can we all achieve this, what did it take? Don’t let me break your thought…finish what you are saying before answering that question
adenikeoke: i worked with my colleagues to ensure that we served as mentors and role models for these students and it was amazing to see how perception can change just with the right influence. and that brings me to answer the question you just asked. Yes, everyone can achieve all these and many more. There is nothing as powerful as a made up mind. As long as one can set their mind to do a particular thing and make sure to put in their best into it, i believe that there is no limit to one’s success.
Adeolu Akinyemi: Word!
adenikeoke: Yes, there were challenges along the way especially when i had to juggle so many things at the same time but i knew where i was going and did not allow anything to get in my way. Most importantly too, i also had the support of family and God was always there for me.
Adeolu Akinyemi: I feel you! Say, did you ever feel at anytime like giving in, like things were just too difficult? Did you ever feel discouraged? Did you?
adenikeoke: Oh yes, there were so many times, when it was really hard. Case in point was my final semester in school. That was the worst time of my life. I had so much school work, was working full time in school and also had a part time internship along with my final project. Then i got the dreaded news that my mum had passed away. I really cannot put in words what my heart felt or how i just saw everything crash around me. I felt like my whole reason for existence had been taken away from me and honestly all i can say is that it was just God’s grace that i passed through that period and did all i had to do. And God’s grace came in so many ways especially with the support of my family and friends.
Adeolu Akinyemi: hmmm
Adeolu Akinyemi: That’s really moving…just for the records, someone might be thinking, it’s easy when you come from a rich family that can afford to send you to school in the US. What is your thought about this?
adenikeoke: My family is not rich. Even though they supported me initially, it was too much of a financial burden for them to bear. I had to look for other opportunities and make use of all the resources available to me. I cannot even tell you the number of scholarships and grants i had applied for. Persistence is always important alongside patience. There are so many resources available that i had to take advange of which i did and i was thankful to get a scholarship that covered all my tuition expenses during the last part of school.
adenikeoke: You know, i have realised that when u desire a goal,
Adeolu Akinyemi: …Let it all out!
Adeolu Akinyemi: All ears
adenikeoke: there will always be reasons why that goal seems unattainable. For me that becomes my motivation. There is a sports store here called “Against all Odds” Do you know what that means? It means no matter what, i will still strive to get to that place i want to be
adenikeoke: And we should be able to channel our passions to give us the strength to pursue our dreams. All the people we look up to historically as great people -like Martin Luther King, Ghandi and Mandela all struggled against the odds. The only reason why they are are hailed now is because they dared to push forward their vision regardless of all the obstacles they faced. I dont even think i have gone through half of what any of them faced
Adeolu Akinyemi: Word! I’m enjoying you like the white man enjoys cigar! There is something you talked about earlier that I haven’t managed to get off my head. You talked about your joy at seeing some of the students you helped to teach succeed. Can you let’s feel some of your passion in this area as well?
adenikeoke: Most of these students came from what you will call the worst of places. Some of them were raised by single parents and just barely got by financially. A lot of them had even been told by their teachers that they should not bother going to college because they could never amount to much. But these students knew that if only they had the right opportunity their dreams could be realized. So they were so eager to learn and make use of all the opportunities that they could get. There is nothing like seeing someone who is eager to learn as much as they can and i was so proud of them.
Adeolu Akinyemi: It feels great to be a part of someone elses success story, and like the saying goes, those who bring sunshine to the life of others can’t hide it from themselves
adenikeoke: Thank you, i must say you have also been a great inspiration for me too. Your drive is so infectious
Adeolu Akinyemi: If you were given an opportunity to address 100,000 plus people, and share some key things that you are sure will help them, what will you say? Please feel free to vent any other thing I might have missed.
Adeolu Akinyemi: Oooh..Thank you. I feel touched, and i’m blushing
adenikeoke: I really mean it and i am so proud to know you because you are just going to be great.
Adeolu Akinyemi: I’m honored. Coming from you.
adenikeoke: I think all i will say can be summed up in this quote i got from a close friend of mine about 4 years ago. “Tomorrow can only be better than today. Open your heart to the promise of a brighter tomorrow and your eyes will see it; for in you lies the capacity the ancients could only wish for.”
Adeolu Akinyemi: word..hmmm! I feel like running with that.
adenikeoke: I believe we all have our different roles to play in this world and we will be always be presented with opportunities to develop ourselves and help others through those roles. The rest is up to us
Adeolu Akinyemi: Nike, I envision we’ll do this again soon. This has been really inspirational and motivating for me too. There is so much I didn’t even know prior to this. I’m glad I was inspired to interview you.
adenikeoke: Well, i enjoyed our discussion too. Thank you so much for asking me to do this. It has been very self reflective for me too
Adeolu Akinyemi: Our generation has missed people to look up to, I believe these stories will provide motivation and courage, both to our peers and those coming behind.
adenikeoke: Exactly! What kind of legacy are we going to leave behind?
Adeolu Akinyemi: Hmm…good question. Thank you so very much! I’m confident many people will take decisions based on this interview. Thanks for sharing freely.
adenikeoke: The pleasure is mine. Many thanks.