“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” -John Dewey
To look at the résumé of Amadin Osagiede, one would believe that it represents the experience and accomplishments of a seasoned professional. The list includes engineering work with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation; leadership activities involving collaboration with a variety of groups; participation in the UNH Black Student Union, the Emerging Leaders Program, the annual MLK Jr. Leadership Summit, and the Men of Strength: Diversity, Education and Family group which is organized through the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA).
His resume provides strong examples of service to others as a mentor through the UNH CONNECT Program for students of color, working as a student academic mentor at the Center for Academic Resources, and interning with the Diversity Networking Program. But a scan back to the top of this résumé, reveals the written picture of an eager young man who will soon complete his Civil Engineering baccalaureate degree and really is just getting started on the impact he plans to have on the world.
Amadin (pronounced a-MA-din) moved to New England from his native Nigeria at the age of 12 and graduated from Londonderry (NH) High School in 2007. He entered UNH as an undeclared Engineering major due to his keen science and math interests, ensuing academic success. He quickly established himself as an honors-level student and found Civil Engineering to be the discipline most appealing. Soon after Amadin found his way to the UNH McNair Graduate Opportunity Program, a federal TRIO program which guides and supports capable students towards graduate school through faculty mentoring and instruction, staff support, and a focused research project.
As Amadin perused the various options for his research in the McNair Program, he discovered the work of Professor Ricardo Medina on the fundamental elements of earthquake engineering and the effects of earthquakes on building construction and recovery. Amadin was hooked on the notion that this was “engineering that would directly impact people's lives.” His research focus evolved into understanding the engineering dynamics of a building’s response to earthquake aftershocks and finding ways that could mitigate further structural damage to buildings.
Success in a rigorous and demanding engineering curriculum is only one part of Amadin’s life. His intensive engagement in the UNH community and desire to serve others through leadership and service makes one wonder how he finds time to fit everything into 24 hours. In August 2009, Amadin undertook the complex task and ambitious goal of establishing and developing a local chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). NSBE is an international pre-professional organization and is entirely student run.
Typical of Amadin’s style, he engaged fellow Engineering student Miguel Miranda and doctoral student Donya Frank in initiating the chapter, finding guidance and support from OMSA Director Sean McGhee and Graduate School Advisor Dovev Levine. The nascent group expanded its membership to include students in Science, Technology, and Engineering Mathematics (STEM) majors. Through Amadin’s guidance and persuasive co-leadership, the group’s membership steadily grew and soon began organizing activities and events for emerging engineers, scientists, and mathematicians.
Amadin’s community and family roots run deep. He grew up in Benin, near the Atlantic coast in southern Nigeria with eight brothers and sisters. He recently returned to Nigeria for a visit to family and friends for the first time since his move to the U.S. in 2001. The hundreds of images from his January visit that he posted on Facebook display the rich heritage of people and places he continues to embrace and honor. But the return evoked emotions. Amadin felt he was someone caught between the two worlds of Nigeria and New Hampshire, and not truly sure how he belonged to either one. This observation came from UNH Chaplain, Larry Brickner-Wood, who has gotten to know Amadin very well through his two year residence at the Waysmeet Center of the United Campus Ministry.
In the nomination for Create Your Own Story, Brickner-Wood observed that “Amadin has stretched and challenged himself on issues of social justice and diversity. He’s wanted to learn about diversity and wanted to learn about the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., the impacts of privilege, and the ways that religion, politics, and communities can impact society.” In pursuit of this learning, Amadin continually immerses himself into situations where he can learn from the ideas of his student peers and the experiences of his adult mentors, claiming that, “I love getting involved with people and organizations because experience has taught me that anyway I help out others, I have helped myself, in return, to grow and mature.”
Amadin appears to see everything that he encounters on his academic, personal, and career paths to be a possibility to learn, to grow, and to connect with others. He is currently applying to Ph.D. programs in Engineering where he can continue to expand his knowledge base in earthquake engineering, stating that “I really want to make a big impact, help people who suffer from big disasters, be well-versed and be a strong resource to others.” In all possible ways it appears that Amadin Osagiede has the momentum and the wisdom to succeed in his goals and truly make a difference.