Dr. Bola says it’s not difficult to tell she’s not from here.
“People tend to say you have an accent, and I have to remind them we all have accents.”
She was born and raised in Nigeria.
“I am so proud of my Nigerian heritage,” said Dr. Bola Delano Oriaran, Associate Professor of Education at St. Norbert College. “I truly believe that everyone needs to be proud of their heritage.”
But she now callsAppletonn home.
“I don’t do snow; I don’t do cold; I don’t do potatoes; I don’t do cheese, and guess what? I’m in northeast Wisconsin, so I do know it’s a calling.”
That calling was education and in more ways than one.
Her undergraduate and master’s degrees are from Savannah State University, her Ph.D. from Penn State.
She’s now an Associate Professor of Education at St. Norbert but continues a line of work promoting equality for minorities and women. She is the founder and co-founder of Umoja, a black heritage program for transracial families, and the African Heritage Emerging Student Leaders Institute.
Not only has she studied inequities for marginalized groups, but she’s also experienced it. The communities of Nigeria, Georgia, and northeast Wisconsin can feel very different, especially when there aren’t many people who look like you.
“It could be a daunting task to be one of the only few. It could be a daunting task when you get looks. It could be a daunting task when people assume that you don’t belong, but then I am reminded of the legacy that I came from. I’m reminded that strong foundation of coming from a family that prepared me for a global society.”
But that hasn’t stopped her.
She believes there’s more work to do only proven by the fact women are celebrated one month out of the year.
“Women have not arrived. We have not achieved as well as we should, and I also truly believe it’s because of stereotypes, and stereotypes could be deconstructed. And I think it’s about time we do that in 2019.”
But she leaves women with this advice:
“The sky is not the limit, and do not let society define who you are. You are going to encounter obstacles, I know that, and those obstacles you encounter, it’s basically a bridge to your success depending on how you approach those obstacles.”