By ARDEN IGLEHEART
UT elected its first African homecoming queen on Saturday, Oct. 14. Oynekachi “Kachi” Osuji, a senior communications major, ran partly because of this reason. Osuji wanted to see if she could win as a Nigerian woman.
“It made a difference in the vision and the thing I was trying to go after, and the history and the boundary I was trying to break,” Osuji said. “That felt more special than just having a crown on my head.”
Dylan Williams, a senior business management major, is one of Osuji’s close friends. He worked with her homecoming campaign, and said that Osuji’s win is important because international students are a big part of UT’s student population.
“Kachi winning is a pivotal moment, and gives a face, a voice, and representation of an African international student and exemplifies diversity at UT,” Williams said.
Osuji contributes her involvement on campus and her outgoing personality to her win. According to Student Productions, the Homecoming Queen has a responsibility to represent UT. Osuji represents the campus as a Spartan Ambassador for Admissions. She’s involved in five campus organizations and has had internships in her major, but likes being an ambassador more than anything else she has done for UT because she gets to meet so many different people.
“I don’t know how; that’s one job that doesn’t even feel like a job because it comes naturally,” Osuji said.
She remembers times where new students have come up to her after having her as a tour guide.
“They were like ‘You were my tour guide! You’re awesome! Because of you I came here,’” Osuji said. “Some parents will call and email me to thank me, and it’s so rewarding.”
Besides Admissions, Osuji is the Ambassador for Change for the internal marketing for the Hult Prize, Public Relations executive for She’s the First, and a member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars. She has always been interested in leadership, and, in 11th grade, got her first opportunity in a position for her school as a “Bell Ringer” managing other students in her dormitory. In 12th grade, she worked coordinating and overseeing sports for her school.
Osuji worked previously as a SPEAR mentor, part of the UT’s Success Scholars Program that tries to encourage success in first-generation and underrepresented college students. Osuji was Williams’ mentor.
“[Osuji] really made me feel welcome at the university,” Williams said. “During my time here she has become one of my best friends and [I] know we will have a lifelong friendship after our college journey.”
Osuji began her college career at the University of Manchester in England, transferring to UT during her sophomore year. She said the size of UT is one thing that helped her branch out and meet people that she wouldn’t normally. The University of Manchester has over 38,000 students, and Osuji said it was easy for her to fall into a pattern of just speaking to international or Nigerian students on that campus.
Osuji did not feel herself meeting her full potential at the University of Manchester because she was studying law. The major there was a lot of reading, so she changed her major to communications when she transferred to UT. She now has a radio show called International Radio UT on Spartan Radio. Her segment features international students each week, and talks about life in their respective countries versus in the United States. Her first broadcast was a few weeks ago, and she brought a Ghanaian student on air. They ended up having a discussion about Nigerian and Ghanaian food.
Osuji wants to continue her education at UT for graduate school, and is planning on studying either marketing or finance. Her goal is to start two different businesses within a few years of graduating. One, she said, will be a media company that does video, audio, and websites. The other one will be marketing and PR for different companies.
“From an entrepreneurship perspective, you have to be willing and able,” Osuji said. “But there’s some features that entail, like capital, and stuff like that. But it’s how you build up to that. Like I could start doing another job and start saving up for how I’m going to start my agency.”
Bringing people together is one of the things that is most important to Osuji, and she does that now through her radio show and through working for admissions. Osuji believes becoming Homecoming Queen will give her more of a platform to do that.
“Even when I was campaigning, I have met even more people, which I was so grateful about… It’s given me so much of a platform at least to do that much and I hope it will continue to do so as well.”
Arden Igleheart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.