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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI provides diverse experience for Pawtucket student
Babatunde Ologun to enter medical school in the fall

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 18, 2002 -- Babatunde Ologun came to the United States from Nigeria in 1997 with $300 in his pocket and a determination to earn a college degree. Staying with a host family, Tunde, as he is known by his many friends, worked and saved for a year so that he could attend the University of Rhode Island.

Next month, the Pawtucket resident will graduate from URI with a degree in biological sciences. Next fall, he will enter the Brown Medical School.

He has garnered accolades throughout his years at URI. His latest achievement was winning the undergraduate student "Academic and Service Excellence Award" at the Multicultural Center Diversity Awards Banquet this week.

"I’m uncomfortable talking about myself," says the soft-spoken, publicity-shy senior who was born in Colorado while his father earned his master’s degree. He grew up in Nigeria. "I’m where I am today, because of the people I’ve met," he said.

One of the people he credits is Chemistry Professor Louis Kirschenbaum. Ologun recalls feeling alone and a bit afraid of the science courses during his first year at URI. Kirschenbaum encouraged him and helped instill confidence. "It was a pivotal moment in my life," says the honor student who will graduate with a 3.9 grade point average.

Another person he credits is Dr. James Hardiman, the medical director and internist with URI Health Services, whom he accompanied to Togo, Africa. With other students, he helped set up clinics in rural areas there.

That was not his only trip to Africa while he was at URI. Ologun thanks Cheryl Foster, scholarship coordinator for the URI Honors Program, for encouraging him to apply for a Metcalf grant, administered by the Rhode Island Foundation. Ologun wrote a winning proposal and spent five weeks in a rural community in Nigeria, helping the community conduct a water quality and sanitation research project.

Even that trip wasn’t the extent of Ologun’s international travels. During the summer of 1999, he spent two weeks with members of URI’s Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in Guatemala, working with a local doctor, helping to establish a pharmacy, and observing surgery.

As a sophomore, Ologun was nominated by URI’s Health Professions Advisory Committee for Brown University’s Early Identification Program.

Ologun was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, the Golden Key Honor Society, the Phi Eta Sigma Freshman Honor Society, the Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Medical Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He received the 2002 Estes Benson Award for Academic Achievement, the Robert DeWolf Scholarship for Outstanding Research in Biology, and the Brett Santoro Memorial Scholarship. He was just informed that he will be the recipient of the President’s Award in Biological Sciences.

When he wasn’t studying, Ologun played intramural soccer. He became an active member of the African Awareness Association and this year helped run a book drive to establish a library in Ghana, Africa. He hopes to graduate from Brown with a degree in internal medicine, eventually expanding into public health areas. He plans to keep one foot in the United States and one in Africa. "It can be done," the 23-year-old says.

Judging from his impressive record at URI, few would doubt the resourceful and brilliant scholar.

For Information: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116

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