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Georgia Southern student from Nigeria passionate about community service in new home

Tolulope “Tolu” Ojo, a biology graduate student at Georgia Southern University, poses for a photo at a camp she volunteers at. Tolu is hoping to get back to volunteering at the camp after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tolulope “Tolu” Ojo, a biology graduate student at Georgia Southern University, poses for a photo at a camp she volunteers at. Tolu is hoping to get back to volunteering at the camp after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tolulope “Tolu” Ojo, a biology graduate student at Georgia Southern University, has found her home away from home in Statesboro. Because of her personal belief that community service begins at home, Tolu is a frequent participant in community service events sponsored by the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement (OLCE).

The Office of Leadership and Community Engagement provides opportunities that address hunger, health, clothing and housing needs,” Tolu said. “I have been to most of these trips, and I am addicted to serving through this medium. I have served alongside other students with similar passions, and I have also interacted with different people from the community and learned so much from these trips.”

Tolu wrote an essay about her community service experience that she sent to OLCE staff members to express her love for volunteering through the office. OLCE Community Engagement Coordinator Jordan Wilburn said the essay was eye opening. 

“Tolulope’s essay is heartwarming and offers a new perspective about the importance of community engagement,” Wilburn said. “She has volunteered on dozens of our service trips, if not hundreds, and she is a dedicated servant of this community.”

In the essay, Tolu explained she didn’t realize people in the U.S. often suffered from similar issues as people in her native Nigeria. In Nigeria, she didn’t have structures like OLCE in place for her to give back to her community.

“I always wished I could do something to help those around me in whatever capacity, but I

couldn’t contribute much toward these issues back home,” Tolu said. “Coming to Georgia Southern and stumbling upon the opportunities provided by the Office of Leadership and Community Engagement, I felt like Alice in Wonderland.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Tolu hasn’t been able to do as much community service, although she still volunteers on the weekends when she can. 

“I have really missed these trips,” she said. “Although I still enjoy serving, I miss the interactions and camaraderie with other students on the trips, and I miss going on other trips that have been canceled because of COVID-19. I also volunteer at a summer camp for foster children between the ages of 12 and 15. We couldn’t do camp this year because of COVID-19, which was disappointing.”

Although she doesn’t have a definite plan, Tolu wants to pursue a career in molecular and biological research after she graduates. She said she will use her service experience in her future workplace.

“I am happy that OLCE gives me a medium to explore other areas where I can help people,” Tolu said. “I really can’t say I have a definite plan for the future on how to use these experiences, so for now I intend to show up and do the little I can do to help others wherever I am.”

For more information on OLCE or to sign up for community service, visit https://students.georgiasouthern.edu/LeadServe/.

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