At Chicago Booth, diversity is celebrated as an essential ingredient for creating a rich and vibrant environment. One of the ways Booth supports diversity is through the initiatives from the Chicago Africa Business Group (CABG), whose mission is to build a close-knit community for the growing number of Chicago Booth students with a strong interest in issues, events, and activities related to Africa. This group aims to provide professional support, social interactions, and educational opportunities for their members, and one of their top objectives includes promoting awareness of African culture and heritage within the Booth community.
In promoting the African culture at Booth, CABG recently celebrated Nigeria’s Independence Day. Every first of October marks Nigeria’s proclamation of independence from British rule on that date in 1960. Nigerians are confident people—proud of their culture and identity, industrious, hard-working, ingenious, and great survivors. In true “Naija” fashion, CABG celebrated Nigeria’s Independence Day with delicious food, rhythmic music, and expressive dance.
I was able to catch up with several Boothies who identify strongly with their Nigerian heritage. See below for their stories:
What does being Nigerian mean to you?
Seun Akinboboye: I was raised by and amongst a group of hard working and high performing individuals who made positive contributions to their communities in their own unique ways. Watching these people and hearing their stories has always been a source of motivation for me to match their teeming enthusiasm in each of my endeavors. I realize how profoundly blessed I am to be in the position that I am. I have relatives that were doctors, engineers, and lawyers in Nigeria, but worked jobs that did not utilize their full intellectual capacity when they first arrived here in the states. They performed these jobs with a surprising sense of humility and to this day they treat others that are in these positions with dignity. To me, being Nigerian is a relentless pursuit of my pinnacle in a mild-mannered fashion.
Moyo Orekoya: It means to excel even when the odds are stacked against you. It means being confident and self-assured. It is, in a way, being cool.
Sade Onadiji: Commitment to excellence and pride in one’s self.
Chuka Anietie-Effiong: Strong sense of culture and identity. Being comfortable with different cultures. Hustle and hard work.
Where did you grow up and what was your upbringing like?
Seun: I was born in Ibadan Nigeria and emigrated to the United States when I was just 9 months old. I grew up in the Tri State area, splitting time between New Jersey and New York. I lived a life and was exposed to opportunities that my parents couldn’t dream of at my age. I have benefitted from my Nigerian lineage in many direct and indirect ways. My mother and father grew up in a time when the Nigerian government sponsored the tuitions of medical students and students that pursued other professional disciplines. Both my mother and father partook in almost 20 years of high quality education without incurring a cent in school loans. Their backgrounds ushered an appreciation for education in their household and a belief that my sister and I could reach the highest levels of professional service. In jest, my sister and I often talk about how we had to be “pre-something” in college (pre-med, pre-law). We felt that in life we could be one of four things: a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, or disowned. In true Seun fashion, I have tested the limits of those boundaries. While Seyi, my sister, has stayed true to the course. Nigeria enabled many of its citizens to pursue the highest levels of education that their intellects could sustain, with no adherence to limits and boundaries. My family instilled this mantra within me. In more reasons than one, Nigeria is literally and figuratively responsible for my presence here.
Moyo: Lagos. Different points in my life saw me on different parts of the income spectrum, so I know what it’s like to have an easy life and to have a very difficult life. All in all, the experience has shaped me and instilled in me a reminder to always take care of the less fortunate.
Sade: I grew up in Houston in a close, tight-knit family that valued the idea of “it takes a village” to raise a child.
Chuka: Port-Harcout Nigeria. I grew up in a single parent catholic home with early independence and responsibility.
Why did you choose to attend Booth?
Seun: I chose to attend Booth because I was fascinated by the impact that Booth faculty have had both domestically and internationally. After reading about Milton Friedman’s influence in Chile and Raghuram Rajan’s impact in India, I thought I would receive a well rounded view of high finance and economics here at Booth that I wouldn’t receive at other schools. At some point, I hope to provide some contributions to a country that has given me so much. I couldn’t identify a better school than Booth to equip me with the skills necessary to do so.
Moyo: I wanted to be surrounded by smart people who would challenge me in a myriad of ways. I also wanted to get a great education and Booth’s rigorous program will do just that. Also it’s Chicago.
Sade: I felt that Booth offered me everything I was looking for in an MBA program: prestige, rigorous academics, vast alumni network, and, most importantly, a diverse, vibrant and generous community.
Chuka: Analytical approach. Background in data driven policy work. I hope to expand my experience and competency to make a lasting impact in Nigeria.
Describe the ways in which Booth celebrates your heritage.
ALL: CABG dinners and mixers, Nigerian Independence Day celebration, and the welcoming atmosphere of the African American MBA Association (AAMBAA).
Chicago Booth is known for embracing diversity—diversity of thought, opinion, race, and heritage. If you are a prospective student interested in learning more about what diversity looks like at Chicago Booth, I encourage you to check out our annual Diversity Day. Our next one will be held on October 25th and you can sign up here. We look forward to welcoming you here to Booth and celebrating our cultures together!