A Call to Service Leads One Lehman Student to Sierra Leone

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Photo of Lehman student Afusat Olaniwun

On June 1, Afusat Olaniwun celebrated the completion of one of her major life goals: graduating from college—she earned her degree in health services administration. A month later, she embarked on yet another life goal: to serve in the Peace Corps. On July 8, she boarded a plane for Sierra Leone, where for the next two years she will work in a health clinic educating the community on malaria and other health issues.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” explains Olaniwun. “I enjoy change, gathering people, being around people, and just being part of a community.”

She applied to the Peace Corps during her senior year, and in her essay she talked about her involvement in creating the Peace Pole Garden on the Lehman campus. As a member of the Sigma Phi Rho Fraternity, she worked diligently with other members to develop a plan, lobby administrators, raise funds, and generate press for the unveiling ceremony.

Olaniwun’s work with the CUNY Service Corp. and the Office of Community Engagement as a Peer Educator also helped to round out her profile as an ideal candidate for the government-funded volunteer program. In addition, she participated in a fellowship at Montefiore Medical Center, where she advised young clients on family planning options.

She says that while she is anxious about the language barrier and adapting to a new culture, she is more excited for the opportunity to grow personally and professionally. “Yes, there is fear, but if I allow myself to absorb it than I will never go anywhere,” she says.

For Olaniwun, service work, much like the campuses shaded Peace Pole Garden with its water fountain, fulfills an innate desire to leave a lasting impression of goodness and kindness.