The Newman Civic Fellowship is awarded to 250 students nationwide on 250 campuses who have demonstrated extraordinary civic leadership on and off campus and are committed to understanding the root causes of social issues that they see around them. Olugbenga was selected by Brown’s president, Christina Paxson, who is a member of Campus Compact’s national coalition of college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education.
Olugbenga has been deeply involved in programs at the Swearer Center for Public Service, tutoring with Brown Swearer Classroom in a bilingual classroom, serving as a minimum time AmeriCorps member to provide college access and guidance with the College Advising Corps and leading a 2015 Swearer Winter Breaks Project on education in Providence. In his spare time, Olugbenga is also involved in the Education DUG (Department Undergraduate Group), works as a Peer Advisor at the CareerLAB and as a Meiklejohn Advisor, is part of the Brown Christian Fellowship, the Shades of Brown Acapella group, the Ivy Council, and volunteers as an International Teaching Assistant (ITA).
Over the years Olugbenga has shown a deep and continued commitment to creating a more equitable education system for K-12 students in Providence and students here at Brown University. “I want to provide an equitable education to everyone,” he says. “No matter what they pursue.”
Growing up in Providence and spending his last three years at Brown, Olugbenga realized early-on the stark contrasts between the opportunities that students had access to in Providence public schools and those that were afforded to students at Brown University.
A lot of the resources I had going to a private school on an academic scholarship. None of that was present in public schools and it made me want to give back.
The first way that Olugbenga gave back was by serving as an Access Scholar with the College Advising Corps, where he worked over 300 hours at Central High School, helping students write their college resumes, register for the SAT, fill out FAFSA and other financial aid forms, and make college more accessible for students’ families. Olugbenga’s involvement in education access has also meant recognizing its intersections with income inequality, poverty, cultural norms, language accessibility and other obstacles that students and their families encounter in public school systems. This recognition had led him to a multifaceted approach to the work he does.
Olugbenga has made a continuous effort to work with families and parents. During his internship with the Providence Public Schools Department, he wrote the white papers for the Parent Public Academy. This effort to get parents more engaged in their students’ schools offers classes for financial literacy, English, and healthy eating on a budget, and provides Spanish translation of the classes, and childcare for parents while they take courses.
With the Newman Civic Fellowship, Olugbenga hopes to connect and learn from like minded fellows who are also interested in civic service work. “Knowing that there are other undergrads who are very passionate about similar things means that I can connect with other leaders and civic fellows.” The fellowship is also motivation for him to continue doing the work that he loves.
The education realm can often be thankless work. But having that recognition gives me motivation to keep doing what I’m doing, and do it even better.
Thank you, Olugbenga, for your civic leadership and commitment to educational equity. Congratulations on receiving the Newman Civic Fellow Award!