Omodayo (Dayo) Origunwa (2014) is just a few months beyond college graduation and well into an internship at GreenerU in Boston, an organization that helps colleges and universities implement energy reduction and supply solutions while helping to mitigate climate change.
A graduate of Swarthmore College outside of Philadelphia, he is putting his engineering and computer science degrees to work while working for the greater good of sustainability. The move to a new city was a welcome change. "The opportunity to reinvent oneself is attractive," notes Dayo, who recalls key transitions from middle school in Oakland to high school in San Francisco to an East Coast college (with study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa), and now an emerging career in Boston. Joining him in the move is sister Bola (2015) who continues her undergraduate studies as a transfer student at Northeastern University, back to the classroom after an adventurous year solo backpacking and farming in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. Younger brother Yomi (2017) is a freshman at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington who created his own farming-focused gap year in the Pacific Northwest.
Taking a moment after work to reflect on his educational path, Dayo notes how the high school helped him develop as an analytical thinker: "The STEM teachers – Dr. Renegar, Mr. Farey, Dr. Carini, Ms. Alba, Dr. Burket – prepared me well for the college engineering curriculum. College was more challenging in terms of the volume of material, as it should be. But conceptually there wasn't anything beyond my grasp."
"It's quite remarkable really and perhaps counter intuitive," he continues. "We certainly did not have worksheets on quantum mechanics in high school but my main lesson books are filled with deep preparatory exploration – how to think about physics and the foundations of quantum mechanics. "
More significant to him than academic preparedness is the cultivation of self-expression. Dayo speaks about the ongoing importance of the arts for himself and his friends into young adulthood: "It's a big part of life still. And certainly in high school, we could paint or explore creative outlets instead of doing drugs or drinking."
Athletics and soccer were also a big part of life. While the high school soccer team was not super-competitive, Dayo gained confidence, a big fish in a smaller pond, that carried him through four years of college soccer. The size and structure of the high school program was a benefit: "If I played at a more traditionally competitive high school, I may have lacked the confidence to go out there and play at the collegiate level. My confidence propelled me."
Dayo describes his collegiate soccer career as a slow breakup; he continued to play the sport for which he was passionate and recognized the limitation of his long-term prospects, a perspective that helped him establish the right balance of athletics, academics, and outsides interests. He advises current high schools students – prospective future collegiate athletes – to carefully consider coaching and program commitments at colleges, and keep in mind how much club and high school coaches have to offer. Athletes at the top of their game should set goals accordingly.
Looking ahead, Dayo, age 22, astutely recognizes that his five-year plan is a bit fuzzy. He maintains a close connection with former classmates, a tight-knit group, most of whom are recent college graduates who are setting their focus on exciting new horizons.
Dayo and John Halifax '13, former classmates and college soccer competitors