2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
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All His World's a Stage

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Busayo Odunlami

Busayo Odunlami

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Many people take a break between college and grad school. Busayo Odunlami took six hours, graduating at noon from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and arriving for his class at Teachers College at 6 p.m. that evening.

Odunlami is used to quick transitions. Since emigrating from Nigeria at the age of nine, he has been an actor, a DJ, an artist, a poet, a consultant, an informational systems engineer and a stand-up comic. Now he's getting serious, setting his sights on a degree in organizational psychology - and a career as an MTV-style video jockey.

Odunlami's father and mother, a doctor and a microbiologist, came to America to provide a better education to their son. He's driven by a desire to give back - "I have a pretty big family, and that means a lot of people that I need to help" - and by the example of his mother.

"She was a microbiologist saving lives while still raising three kids. She's been my role model for balancing work and family life" - and also the inspiration for his interest in studying the role of women in corporate leadership. "With corporations being more global, there's a very big need for a different kind of leader," Odunlami says. "I want to focus on how women and corporations can overcome barriers to put women in leadership roles."

In December, Odunlami read his poetry at "Fighting Words," a TC-sponsored event to raise money for the fight against AIDS. In the company of veteran performers who had appeared on HBO's Def Comedy Jam, Odunlami, whose own resume includes appearances on All My Children and in fashion shows, won universal accolades - even from the other poets.

"At the end of the day there's only one thing that still excites me, and that's the energy of the crowd," he says.

To the all-important question, "Do you sleep?" Odunlami, laughing, answers: "A lot."

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