The winner of a prestigious student award said he is inspired to continue the legacy of the Oshkosh 94 to advance the standing of African American students at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
A senior majoring in information systems, Franklyn Iwuji, of Imo State, Nigeria, was honored with the African American Student Leadership Award and a $1,000 scholarship at the recent Martin Luther King Jr event at UWO in January.
“His involvement on and off campus display his diverse leadership, campus engagement, community and public engagement, as well as his ability to balance competing priorities,” said Tony Laing, director of the Men of Color Initiative at UW Oshkosh who nominated Iwuji.
Iwuji said his drive to succeed academically is his way of honoring his family, his mentors and mentees as well as the Oshkosh 94.
“I was amazed by the Oshkosh 94’s fight and sacrifice,” he said. “They advocated for a conducive environment for all students, irrespective of racial and ethnic differences. Sadly, some of the original Oshkosh 94 members passed away before witnessing firsthand how their actions led to a more inclusive body at UW Oshkosh. They left an indubitable imprint on the minds of black students like me. Their relentless efforts to fight for equality coupled with resilience to succeed even after their expulsion is a constant reminder to me not to take my education for granted and to give back to others.”
Iwuji was the first male student to receive the $1,000 scholarship in six years. He is the treasurer for the Men of Distinction—a social and cultural, student-led group that Laing helped organize. The Men of Distinction are committed to improving the personal and professional growth of male students by focusing specifically on leadership development and the involvement in service projects in the Oshkosh community.
Iwuji also is a member of the Black Student Union and a volunteer at Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services annual fundraising dinner. He has a broad array of work experience as an information technology, device intern in the IT department on campus.
Laing also pointed to Iwuji’s 3.62-grade-point average to illustrate his level of academic commitment and discipline.
Iwuji said he has always had a great interest in technology. The international student said his curiosity stems from limited exposure at home to the advantages of information technology in business. He was inspired to follow in the footsteps of his brother who graduated from UW Oshkosh.
“It was exciting to know that my on- and off-campus activities with my Men of Distinction brothers and Dr. Tony Laing earned ‘us’ this recognition,” he said.