KINGSTON, R.I. – May 4, 2016 — While some students arrive at the University of Rhode Island unsure of the path their education will take, health studies and English double major Sarah Ogundare from Central Fall knew global health was her destiny.
“I’ve gone on mission trips with my church, and in my heart I want to see people more healthy and not just physically,” said Ogundare, 20, who’s been to Haiti three times with her church, North Providence Assembly of God. “I am taking a holistic approach to health with a spiritual (aspect). That is my passion and my goal.”
In Haiti, she built relationships with children who were not being educated, helped prepare a new mobile clinic, and worked with the construction team, building latrines in rural areas and painting homes. She hopes to make mission trips to Guatemala and India.
“Honestly, I love traveling and I love leaving having realized there’s a need,” said Ogundare, whose parents came to the United States from Nigeria. Her father died when she was 9.
Ogundare started her education at the Community College of Rhode Island, where she spent her senior year of high school, and came to URI through the Talent Development Program. She will graduate after three years on URI’s Kingston campus.
“Talent Development definitely helped a lot with support and advising,” she said. “I came in confident about my ability to get through school but I didn’t realize how much I had to learn about time management. Balancing friends and school with work and volunteering was quite overwhelming.”
She said she was blessed with advisors in health studies and English who guided her and helped her pick the right courses. At URI, she has received numerous scholarships including: the Mary C. Petrella Memorial English Scholarship; the Benson Scholarship Endowment; the June J. and Habib A. Koussa Scholarship Endowment, and the Nancy Potter Endowment.
“The scholarships did help my family when it came to the financial aspect of coming to school and it motivated me to do well at school. I’m very grateful for their generosity,” she said.
Ogundare works as a certified nurse’s assistant at Rhode Island Hospital and serves on the leadership team of the Sankofa Campus Ministry at URI, which has 70 members. At Sankofa, she met “really great people” and formed friendships she’ll take with her when she leaves campus.
On weekends, she returns home to Central Falls. She’s close with her mother and three older brothers. Her brother Samuel “Sammy” Ogundare, 24, is a communications major and Africana studies minor at URI and they will graduate together in May.
“I loved having my brother on campus,” she said. “We could support each other.”
She can’t wait to have their mother, along with close family and friends, watch them receive their diplomas. She called her mother, who is a nursing assistant at Rhode Island Hospital, a tremendous influence in her life.
“My mother worked very, very hard to support us, really hard to help us pay for school in addition to driving us everywhere, moving us onto campus every year. As a widow, that was not easy to do,” she said.
Ogundare hopes to attend graduate school but plans on taking a year to work at Rhode Island Hospital while she thoughtfully plans how to channel her passion for global health into a thriving career.
“I’m on another leg of my journey. I’ve closed one door and it’s time to open another one. The journey never ends. There’s always room for improvement and I am excited for what God has in store for my family. This is a miracle for us, Sammy and I graduating at the same time. It’s a double blessing and it will be great to watch.”
URI graduating senior Sarah Ogundare. URI photo by Joe Giblin