This week, Here & Now has been speaking with 2016 college graduates about the biggest challenges they faced in school, and where they plan to go next.
Today, Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson speaks with Peace Odiase, one of two valedictorians at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, Tennessee.
Interview Highlights: Peace Odiase
What made you come to the U.S. from Nigeria to study?
“I kind of always wanted to travel out of the country, so when I finished high school, I got accepted into the University of Lagos, but I was too young so I got denied registration. During that process I was taking the SATs and I applied to several schools, Fisk gave me a full ride, so my dad was like ‘if you don’t get a free ride, you are going nowhere,’ so that’s the choice."
What did you learn at Fisk?
“I learned a lot about biology, but I got an opportunity to also research so every summer since freshman year, except my junior year which I did web design, but I researched and I got the opportunity to research at Vanderbilt in neuroscience, that was pretty cool, and I got to be a co-author in a paper, so that was really amazing.
"There are about 11 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, so I really want to make a difference in terms of what they can accomplish."Peace Odiase
Something I learned would be, just it's one thing to learn theory in classes and another thing to actually see the practicality of what you’re learning and how it actually applies to the whole world. I definitely got that breadth of experience at Fisk, and that’s something I’m taking with me.”
What do you have planned next?
“I plan on actually going into academic development, so that’s kind of different. My professors thought I would get a Ph.D., but Africa is one of the places where I know there’s so much talent, but there’s so many limitations in terms of what people can achieve and something I want to do is go back and make a difference. I’m interested in academic development and part of that is, actually I fashion design as well, so I am taking that route into the future.
I want to get my Masters in international business this fall, and my MBA next year, hopefully, and the reason is because I want to go back and help in terms of developing Africa and not only that, I am interested in the orphan population which is rising. There are about 11 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, so I really want to make a difference in terms of what they can accomplish.”
Are you happy or sad to leave the United States?
“Happy because I’ll be doing something meaningful, it’s not like leaving for no reason. That’s what matters right? That I make a difference, that I do something that helps another person along the way. I feel like I’ve had my fair share of opportunities, and I’m still planning to stay to learn more, so I think at that point when I have gained as much as I can, I would like to go back and give back.”
- Peace Odiase, one of two valedictorians at Fisk University.
This segment aired on May 25, 2016.