Meet Oluwasola Ogundare, Schools That Can’s first Student Board Delegate! Oluwasola, a freshman at Cornell University, will be writing a blog series for STC, tackling the transition from high school to college, career readiness, and what’s on the minds of young people today. With that, explore Olu’s first blog post below!
Finding A Place Where You Belong In College
College is a time of self-growth and discovery, where you have the opportunity to be fully responsible for yourself and explore your interests with nothing holding you back. It is truly a go-getting place where success, happiness, and community are everywhere, and if you go to the right places, you will be able to find them all.
My name is Oluwasola Ogundare(I usually go by Olu), and I am currently a first-year at Cornell University majoring in Operations Research and minoring in Financial Engineering. I am Nigerian, but lived in Newark, NJ my entire life. Undergoing this massive shift from high school to college scared me, and I knew that in order to become the best version of myself in this new challenging space, I would have to surround myself with people who have similar passions and goals in order to create a community that everyone could thrive in.
Despite the focus and time needed that you need to put into your grades, it’s important to not let school be your entire life. For a long time, I only cared about school and defined my life by what grades I got. This is a dangerous mentality to have because there’s more to who you are, and how much you matter in this world, beyond your GPA. I was able to create my identity and become true to who I am by surrounding myself with extraordinary people who helped me grow. Primarily, I took part in these spaces in high school by being a part of the track and field team, National Honors Society, and volunteering for peer-tutoring. These clubs helped me thrive and not succumb to the negative energy of others. Having a group of individuals that you can call your family, and who will push you to your best will allow you to flourish in not just college, but any setting.
During my time at Cornell, I have thankfully been able to find these spaces in different areas of my life that I care deeply about. Within these communities, I feel immense support which leads to the greatest improvements of myself as an individual. I am thankful for these clubs and organizations and hope to be able to give back to them as well. So far, some of the clubs and organizations I am apart of include:
National Society of Black Engineers
Here, my peers and I help increase the number of culturally responsible black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community once they enter the workforce. We create a network in which we all promote the sharing of knowledge and fostering a strong community between each other. Having a club of fellow, intelligent engineers that are going through similar struggles makes me feel more empowered and capable of handling my work.
Nigerian Student Association
Within this small club, undergraduates from Nigerian descent gather to discuss important issues ongoing within the country and provide support for one another weekly. Every time I meet with this club, I feel like I am able to grow closer to my heritage and learn more about myself in ways I didn’t think were possible.
This 100% owned minority investment group is an organization in which we work towards closing the access gap by creating a pipeline for talented, Black, Hispanic, and Native American students interested in entering the financial services industry. I love this group because it helps me bolster my financial literacy while still exploring the finance industry, an industry that I have a growing passion for and may even go into.
Cornell Run Club
Finally, due to my love for the sport of track and field and participation in it while in high school, I love to run as a way to reduce stress and keep myself healthy. The club meets for daily runs and workouts in which the group pushes one another in order to become stronger, faster runners. Additionally, we also race within the NIRCA league (8k for men 6k for women) and compete on the national level.
No matter where one may find themselves, regardless of the setting, the people you surround yourself with are of the utmost of importance. When you’re struggling, apprehensive about life, or just need someone that will galvanize you into continuing to follow your dreams, your friends and family will be the ones to push you forward. Such a support group is a necessity for not just getting work done, but also for your mental health too. Knowing you’re not alone in your journey keeps me, and many others, sane, and still feeling confident about the future.
When it comes to finding these spaces, it always comes from putting yourself in a place where your passions and happiness are at the front of the organization. At the end of the day, these places have been made for the individuals who join them, and should be joined because of your own desires and beliefs, not because anyone else forced you to do so. Finding this balance between introspection and proactiveness will inevitably push you into a setting in which you will be able blossom