BY JENELLE FRANKLIN
Before he started taking classes at Washtenaw Community College, alongside volunteering on campus each semester, Ayowole Oladeji was living in Nigeria, speaking Yoruba as his primary language, English as his second, and dreaming of a place with opportunities, which he has found at WCC.
“My twin brother once told me, ‘Don’t ever take what you have for granted,’” said Oladeji, WCC general studies major.
According to the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Oladeji is part of the 21.9 percent of the population who are ages 16-24 and who volunteer.
“Ayowole is the kind of student you hope to meet in a higher education career. For instance, he has a sincere appreciation for Washtenaw Community College,” Rachel Barsch, WCC’s coordinator of student activities said.
“Giving back and helping people is a passion of mine, for as long as I remember,” Oladeji said.
When Oladeji signs up to help with an event or club, it is well received by the WCC staff.
“He is overly thankful for the experiences he has found here…He is very excitable when it comes to college-sponsored events, particularly volunteer or service events,” Barsch added.
Aside from being motivated and friendly, Oladeji is punctual according to Barsch.
“He signs up for many on-campus volunteer opportunities and always shows up — often early as he is very eager — and that follow-through is very appreciated by volunteer coordinators, like myself,” she said.
“Ayowole has a big smile for everyone and makes a wonderful greeter at events. We, in turn, are grateful for his commitment to WCC and to his fellow students,” Barsch said.
Oladeji is getting his general studies courses underway at WCC, with plans to transfer soon, and finds 30-40 hours each semester to volunteer around campus.
Planning on transferring to Eastern Michigan University as early as fall 2016, Oladeji has kept his volunteerism eagerness, and continues to see it as an essential component to success.
“I am motivated to give back to the community and WCC,” Oladeji said.
He speaks fondly of fellow volunteers who have worked alongside him at events like the recent 30th annual Mardi Gras; where he helped out with coat check and serving food, while he enjoyed the chance to mingle with different people from different places.
Oladeji’s favorite event to volunteer at so far has been Free College Day – a day where the community can sign up to attend college at no cost.
“I like that you get to invite the community in, and let them experience what college free day is all about, it’s love,” Oladeji said.
Oladeji utilizes the Writing Center, and is thankful to Thomas Zimmerman for his effort and time.
“I go to the Writing Center for help with all my pieces,” Oladeji said.
Oladeji provides help to the Poetry Club, and was excited to have some of his works published in The Big Woods Review in fall 2015.
Of the published pieces, “‘Darkness Falls Over the Woods’ is my favorite,” Oladeji said.
He enjoys the feeling he gets when he can make someone on every level smile.
“I always want to help people, make them feel like they are part of the community, even if just helping an organization,” he said.
According to Oladeji, his volunteer work is highly enjoyable. It has brought him experiences such as a luncheon with WCC President Rose Bellanca and he received a certificate signed by her after being part of the Diversity Extravaganza in November of 2015.
“Dancing is also one of my passions,” Oladeji said. He enjoyed performing a dance in the extravaganza, and plans to participate again this year.
Outside of WCC, Oladeji has spent time helping children from around the world through Excel Academy in Ann Arbor.
“We help young kids from different countries come together and learn to read and write,” Oladeji said.
As a member of the English as a Second Language book club, Oladeji sees the meetings as, “a way to meet different people from around the world, sharing how the experience here is, and what the world is like.”
Aside from just reading, Oladeji hopes the ESL Book Club is interested in hosting other future events. Young Americans for Liberty, a student discussion group, “is informing people of what the world is like, and how they could make the world a better place, spread liberty,” Oladeji said.
On a recent trip to Ohio to visit NASA with his fellow Phi Theta Kappa members, Oladeji enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at the computers and technology used to send people into space inside the control room.
March 4 and 5, Oladeji plans to help on campus with early enrollment.
“Just trying to make sure I am balancing everything out. That is why any time I join an organization on campus, I am full of energy and excited to be helping out. It’s so good to see smiles on people’s faces when you volunteer,” Oladeji said.