December 6, 2011
By Anissa Rowe
Dr. Moronke Oke of the Ken Blanchard College of Business is one of the most beloved professors on the GCU campus.
How so? The running joke is that there's usually a line outside her office of students eager to chat with her.
"She's always there when I need help before and after class," says Joshua Ademosu, a graduate student in Finance who came to GCU from London. "Her classes are really interactive."
|Perhaps that skill at interaction owes to the fact that Oke has lived on three very different continents. She has been at GCU for about five years now, but her travels began long before that.
She came to Arizona six years ago from the United Kingdom, where she had lived for 10 years. But she grew up in Nigeria, where most of her family still resides. She vacations in Nigeria as often as she can; her most recent visit was in July.
"Nigeria has a culture characterized by collectivity, and I miss that unity," Oke says. "The Western world is more individualistic and it took some getting used to."
While earning her doctorate at Cardiff Business School in Wales, Oke began teaching - although she had told herself that she never would be a teacher. By the time she was into her third course, she had gained enough confidence and passion to realize that this was her purpose.
"You're never sure what you'll come up against," she says. "It's like I tell my students: Conflict is not necessarily bad, it just needs to be constructive rather than destructive."
Although Oke has been a Christian since her teenage years, her family is an even mix of Christians and Muslims.
"It has made me have a better appreciation for people, (and) it has given me a sensitivity to others' differences," she says. "Sowing the Word often times means living the Christian life. It's good to remember that God changes people in His own way and in His own time. We are all a work in progress."
By the time she and her husband had moved to Arizona, they had been blessed with two boys, now ages 8 and 6.
Arizona State University, where she worked for more than a year, left her feeling there was something missing. However, she has felt at home at GCU since the first time she visited.
"I can be my whole self here," Oke says, adding that she enjoys attending Chapel and engaging in spiritual conversations with other faculty and students.
"One of the many reasons I like GCU, and the College of Business in particular, is that it is like having an extended family. We are all so close."
Oke's background has made involvement in the campus International Club a natural. She's able to show students far from their home that it can be done. She made a name for herself and encourages those students to do the same.
She is "the kind of person who spends a lot of time with her students," says Dr. Kevin Barksdale, KBCOB's dean. "She really encourages students to be involved in events on campus. She amplifies our values for us. And I think she'd say servant leadership is in line with her personal faith."
For someone who thought she'd never be a teacher, a career in the classroom has worked out remarkably well.
"Teaching is a position you enjoy only if you have a passion for it," Oke says.
The line outside her office says she most certainly does.