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image 1Commencement 2006

Commencement Profiles

Adaeze Udoji '08
Driven to Serve

Adaeze Udoji '08 had her own cheering section at Adelphi's 2008 Commencement, and for good reason. She is the first in her family—out of five siblings—to graduate from college and attend law school. Ms. Udoji's mother invited nearly a dozen immediate and extended family members and friends to share in the joy of her daughter's graduation.

Ms. Udoji credits her parents, who were born and raised in Nigeria and moved to the United States as adults, for empowering her with confidence and determination.

"Because of the fight they put in me, I'm going to graduate (college) in four years," says Ms. Udoji. "I'm really grateful to them for that."

A dancer since age seven and a runner since junior high school, Ms. Udoji ran both track and field for Adelphi and danced on the Hip Hop dance team until a debilitating knee injury—a torn meniscus—sidelined her for good. Unable to run, she lost significant scholarship support.

Determined to replace the lost funds, she was hired as a resident assistant, a position that covered her boarding costs. Ms. Udoji found her athletic background highly useful, as the residence hall floor she supervised included a number of student athletes with whom she found common ground.

Ms. Udoji's "fight" propelled her involvement in other aspects of extracurricular life.

"I ran for student government president my first year (at Adelphi), and I lost," she says.

Despite the defeat, she turned her efforts toward the Resident Students Association, a governing body for students who live on campus. "I was getting my foot in the door somewhere," she says.

By Ms. Udoji's junior year, she was elected R.S.A. president, a demanding position in which she and her fellow officers oversaw more than 400 campus programs a year, including Diversity Awareness Week and Adelphi’s annual Winter Wonderland.

"I learned different ways of dealing with groups," says Ms. Udoji about her R.S.A. leadership. "I learned from my failures, as well as my successes."

A political science major, Ms. Udoji is looking forward to attending Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she has won significant scholarship support, and ultimately pursuing a career in government or public policy. Already, she has built an impressive resume, including internships with the National Urban League and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Long Island regional office.

Ms. Udoji acknowledges that the road ahead will be challenging, especially the grueling first year of law school, but she's confident Adelphi has prepared her well for the journey. She credits the political science faculty with allowing her to hone her writing and critical thinking skills.

"It took me four years to become a well-oiled machine in terms of the learning process," she says. "(My professors) helped me with that, and prepared me for law school."

Photos by Willson Lee
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