Student ~ Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
Ifeoluwa Odeniyi is the President of the African Students Association (ASA) at Auburn University. Through his leadership, he has made a significant impact in making Auburn a home for many African students, ensuring that the interests of his African student colleagues are well represented and that they feel supported and included in the campus community. He has made a foreign land feel like a home far from home for many African students, who come from 20 of the 54 countries on the African continent.
He increased the visibility of the African Students Association within the university by organizing various cultural programs and education events and fostering a culturally diverse environment. He created a mentoring initiative where foreign students get properly coached before leaving their home country on issues like the nitty gritty of visa processing and interviews, payments, flight bookings, getting picked up upon arrival at the airport, finding temporary housing before leases start, and academic support.
Ifeoluwa has been a game-changer for many. He teaches others how to succeed. He is an amplifier of success. Anyone who associates with him sees success. At ASA monthly meetings, he encourages members to participate in a variety of campus organizations. That effort has increased the participation of African students in an array of campus organizations.
As the President of ASA, he came up with many creative ideas for engagement. Some include the African Welcome Dinner, an event to welcome both the newly admitted students and returning students back to school. The first-of-its-kind event was attended by over 250 people, with attendees from over 17 African countries. He pioneered a soccer match between the African Students Association and Asian Students Association, to foster relationships between the two associations, creating a culturally diverse and inclusive environment. He was part of the team that led a partnership between ASA with Campus Dining. The first event of its kind, African dishes/meals were prepared, and non-African students could experience different African food. Over 500 students attended.
During Thanksgiving break, when many international students are on campus alone, Ifeoluwa created a Thanksgiving event attended by over 170 students from over 35 countries where they had an opportunity to express gratitude for their experiences over the past year and talk about their homeland and the holidays that are most like Thanksgiving in their own countries. Over the summer, he organized a Stay Fit and Not Still initiative where ASA members went together to use the Recreation & Wellness Center gym and sporting. For many, it was the first time visiting the Rec Center. Since the program started, a lot of African students go to the REC center regularly.