Dr. Olagoke holds a B.A. from Oklahoma State University, an M.A. from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.A. from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in Sociology: Religion and Social Change from Denver University.
What do you do?
I am a Professor of Sociology at Waynesburg University. Courses that I teach vary from introduction to sociology to cultural differences, societies, urban sociology, globalization and research methods. Some courses include outside engagement in missions and immersion in places within and outside U.S. I have taken students to Romania, Philly, Pittsburgh and Chicago. Students have also participated with me in presentations at conferences and seminars in other colleges and universities.
How has Waynesburg’s mission of faith, learning and serving helped guide you through your life?
I started employment here at a moment that really tried my soul. I was going through a difficult family situation; the employment, support, friendship from staff and faculty helped me in navigating the challenging terrains of life. I am glad that phase is history. My growth in faith through chapel services, church membership and dialog with other believers here has been phenomenal over the years. I am highly indebted to the University and individuals who have been a “Jesus in the skin” to me.
What is one thing that the pandemic has taught you about yourself?
Life is short, and I should be grateful to God for the grace to live, to learn, to love and hopefully to leave a legacy. What have you strived to keep consistent as many things are changing? Four things: 1. Gratitude: I am reminded of the saying, “When gratitude is lost in the heart of a person, he or she is just a mirage.” 2. Prayers: I believe the admonition by Apostle Paul, “praying without ceasing,” has taken a new dimension for me. 3. Remembrance of shortness of life: loss of my parents and people that I know regularly reminds me of the song, “This world is not my home; I am just passing through.” 4. Legacy: “What legacy will people remember me for after all is said and done?” is a perennial but consistent question.
What steps do you take to prioritize wellness in your life?
Fourfold: physical: I now have an exercise bike in my home; spiritual: I voraciously read from the scriptures and early patristic writings; intellectual: I present papers at conferences two to three times a year and publish papers as well; communication: this has been intensified with friends, family, and current and past students.
How do you help students to grow?
I see a microcosm of myself in them. They always remind me of the Jewish Talmud: “I have learned a lot from my teachers, more from my colleagues and most importantly from my students.” I listened to them a lot prior to the pandemic; I still do virtually and through emails and texting. I also make my classes as passionate, personable, and professional as possible. I make it a point of duty to write or contact those I perceive to be falling behind and sometimes it shows through their demeanor in class. I was a bit concerned with the online classes, but it has actually enhanced feedback and conversation with students who are usually quiet in regular face-to-face classes. Even with the hybrid classes, most have felt free to share with me not just about the loss but also future in general. I also bring in my experiences as a student and it is sometimes refreshing when I share aspects of their struggles. I constantly say in class, “I feel your pain.” Their responses and feedback so far have been positive.
How do you think our everyday routines will change moving forward, post COVID-19?
I believe the pandemic has changed the way with teaching for good and even life itself. I update my learning and technological skills daily now to be able to meet the needs of my students who are far more advanced than I am in this area. It has also consciously changed some health habits. I am more conscious than ever of my surrounding in the area of cleanliness and “godliness.”
What is the first place you will visit when travel restrictions are lifted?
Two places: Greece and Nigeria. Greece because I was scheduled to give a presentation in Thessaloniki which was postponed because of the pandemic. Nigeria is second because I was born there and still have extended family there. I am also working on a book project that will require residency and research in three universities in the country. This has been delayed because of the pandemic. I cannot wait for it to be over.
Gain practical experience that will launch your career
As a student in the Department of Criminal Justice & Social Sciences, you'll gain a new perception of law and its role in the delivery of American justice or you'll gain an in-depth understanding the psychological and political aspects of contemporary issues from law and international studies to human services and sociology.