Ene “Priscilla” Idoko, of Abuja, Nigeria, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in economics and minoring in African American studies.
Idoko served as the president of the African American Studies Club and vice president of the Economics Student Association. She also was a member of the Black Student Union, International Students Association and the Divine Voices of the Valley Gospel Choir. In 2022, Idoko won the Oshkosh 94 Student Leadership Award for continuing efforts to advance the standing and enhance the experiences of African American students at UWO. She also presented her research at the National Council for Black Studies Conference in March.
Here are her prepared remarks from Saturday’s commencement ceremony:
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Hello everyone and hello my fellow graduates!
My name is Ene Priscilla Idoko. I am a major in economics and a minor in African American Studies. Until I walk across this stage, I am the president of the African American Studies Club. I have served as the vice president of the Economics Student Association and in many other capacities in student leadership across campus.
Today is a good day! Might I add that this year is a good year. My college days, as pivotal as they have been, have challenged me to become the best version of myself in the midst of incessant change. And I hope they have been for you as well.
For me, my freshman year at UWO began as a 16-year-old venturing out from my home-country Nigeria to a place where the world as I knew it would expand far beyond what I could ever ask or imagine. You see, in my culture, we learn from our elders what to do and how to do it, they are guides and they are very much revered. They taught me to be slow to speak and quick to listen. I learned a long time ago that having ears to hear would carry me far. There is a wise saying that goes “he who has an ear, let him hear.” An ear to hear is an idiomatic saying that calls for the listener to have an open heart and mind to what is about to be revealed. In other words, wake up!! and pay careful attention to the lessons set out before you. I have leaned on what has been culturally grounded in the bedrock of my being.
Being one of the youngest in my cohort here at UWO has afforded me the opportunity to look and live, listen and learn. I have looked thoroughly and lived thoughtfully. I have listened intently and learned immeasurably. The young woman who stands before you today is a product of culture and community. She is a lifelong learner who recognizes and understands that the shifts, sudden changes, and even crises can create unprecedented opportunities for advancement, and stimulate creative strategies for mental maturity.
One of the bravest and most worthwhile things I did during my time here was stepping into leadership roles. I remember my first year being a Titan Captain. That experience opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I was privileged to meet high authority figures at our institution and represent the university without hiding who I am or where I come from.
I can recall the moment I became the president of the African American Studies Club. I did not expect that to happen when I went into that meeting. I called my mum immediately after and told her in shock and excitement what had just happened. And from that day on, that role has been the most fulfilling, exciting and memorable thing that I have had the pleasure and honor of serving in throughout my time here.
I have learned that movement requires action. And action stimulates growth. During my matriculation at UWO, the pursuit of growth has encouraged me to be persistent in moving. As I reflect on my four years in what is soon to be called my alma mater. Five key movements come to mind:
First, moving from silence to sharing. I learned to share about my culture and to ask questions to help me better adapt to my new life here. I’m sure you’ve all learned to share about yourselves as well.
Second, moving from taking to giving. I gave my time and commitment to make a worthwhile experience for myself here. And I hope we all carry that goal with us into our new communities.
Third, moving from blame to responsibility. I learned to take accountability for my actions and learn from the mistakes I made. I’ve made mistakes and I’m sure we all have too, but the goal is to learn to take accountability for our actions and learn from those mistakes.
Fourth, moving from discouragement to possibility. We’ve all had to learn to pick ourselves up and keep going, even when things felt hopeless or when the world was disoriented during the pandemic.
And lastly, moving from preparation to adventure. After all, that is the whole point of our college careers; to prepare us for the adventure that awaits.
I leave you today on a high note as I say O’ Le B’onchi, meaning until tomorrow in my native language.
More from UW Oshkosh’s midyear commencement: