Olugbenga Joseph, Brown University
Olugbenga is a dedicated and thoughtful leader, who is working on multiple levels to bring about positive social change. He has spent meaningful time addressing educational inequities and has led conversations about education on and off campus. For Olugbenga, who grew up in Providence and is now a leader at Brown, service provided him with the initial path to address educational equity. He provided college guidance and access to students at Central High School; built stronger connections between families and schools with work at the Providence Public School; and was a bilingual Spanish tutor in an elementary school. Olugbenga has served his peers on campus as a Peer Advisor and a Department Undergraduate Group leader for Brown’s Education Department. He is an organizer for the Ivy Council’s conference of student leaders, hosted this year at Brown with the theme of community engagement.
Olugbenga has recognized that direct service does not solely address root causes of educational inequity. He has developed policy knowledge and skills to complement his service, leading Brown students into a week-long immersion into education policy in RI, and serving as a member of RI’s statewide Education Strategic Planning Review. He has the potential to make significant contributions to address educational equity in our community.
-Christina Paxson, President
I believe there is an intrinsic bond between poverty, educational access, and individual outcomes. One question I am wrestling with is whether the disparity in access to education is the cause, or the effect, of poverty. As a part-time member of the College Advising Corps, I spent 300 hours collaborating with high school seniors on application essays and financial aid forms to increase their access to higher education. While interning at the Providence Public School Department, I empowered families to engage with Providence schools, and vice versa, to promote a mutual understanding between the two.
Although direct service is important, it does not always address root causes of inequitable access. I led my peers to explore educational inequity through a week-long immersion experience investigating educational issues in Rhode Island over the winter break. In my service as a member of Rhode Island’s education strategic planning review committee, I identify policy priorities for education with stakeholders statewide. I plan to continue leveraging my dual identity as a Providence resident and a Brown student to work within policy and service frameworks to ensure that a quality education is available, and accessible, to all. Solving the issue of access is the first step.