Omolayo Ojo ’15 is spending the fall semester in the West African nation of Senegal immersing herself in the language and culture.
The international studies and strategic communications double major is a recipient of a 2013-2014 David L. Boren Scholarship, which gives students financial backing to study global languages and cultures. Ojo is the first Elon University student to receive the honor since the awards were first distributed in 1994.
The Boren Scholarship enabled Ojo to spend part of the summer in the African Language Initiative at the University of Florida studying the Wolof language before she headed to Senegal.
Ojo is an Honors Fellow and recipient of the Kenan Scholarship, the university’s top award for incoming students that covers full tuition for four years. She is a member of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2015 as well as Sigma Iota Rho, the international studies honor society, and last spring was named one of 15 recipients of the Lumen Prize, Elon’s top award to celebrate undergraduate research and creative achievement.
Ojo, who moved to United States from Nigeria when she was a child, has research interests in African Studies, particularly West Africa and its diaspora communities. The intersection of development and migration studies fascinates her, and she believes the topic is essential for the growth of several nations in the region, she says.
Immigration is the focus of Ojo’s Lumen Prize project, which is funded with a $15,000 award to support her research, and her curiosity earned raves from her faculty mentor.
“She’s looking at this issue in the light of transnationalism, a new approach to thinking about globalization,” says Associate Professor Tom Mould in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “She’s doing many of the things a master's or PhD student would be doing for their research—learning the local languages, immersing herself in the local culture, making personal connections with the major scholars in the field—but she’s doing it as an undergraduate.”