If a student walks into a United Voices Gospel Choir (UVGC) rehearsal, they will find choir members circled together trying to find their notes. UVGC President Olamiposi Owolabi, or Olami for short, can be found throughout the Humanities 301 choir room attending to one piece of business after another. Besides her administrative duties, Owolabi also serves as a mentor to all those who call UVGC their second family.
Originally Owolabi grew up in Nigeria as a student at an all-girls boarding school.
“[Going away to school] really helped me grow up quickly,” she said. “I had to learn to take care of myself, since my parents weren’t there.”
When Owolabi came to the United States with her family in 2009, adjusting to a new culture and a new place proved challenging.
“[The U.S] was a new world, I didn’t really talk to anybody; I kept to myself,” she said. “I was learning the classes, so it was really hard for me to understand. Everything was so fast.”
It took her about a year to find a sense of normalcy. One aspect of her life that has helped her to get through the transitionary periods is her faith in God.
“God really helped me out. I think that is one of the things I learned when I got here. That is when I started my relationship [with God].”
Anyone who has any familiarity with Owolabi can tell she is a very spiritual person. Her strong sense of faith led her to become UVGC president, as well as an active member of Bethel Campus Fellowship. She describes her path to leadership as unexpected, as many other viable candidates for various reasons could not take up the role. Thus the honor landed in her lap. She has taken the position in stride, having already served on UVGC’s Executive Board in the past.
Music brings color to the lives of many people around the world, including Owolabi. She sings as an alto in the choir, the section of a choir traditionally devoted to women with lower voices. Though she does not direct the choir, she helps to make sure that all other aspects of the choir’s agenda are taken care of, such as funds and dates of workshops.
“[Being a leader] forces me to be in a place where I am able to have the knowledge and the understanding to help people,” she said. “It forces me to grow spiritually as an individual. I can’t just say anything.”
Given her compassion for people, it makes sense that she is on track to graduate with a degree in nursing after the spring semester in 2016. Surely she will bring her all her knowledge of mentorship and spirituality to whatever career path she chooses. She will leave a sizeable hole to be filled in the governance of UVGC.