This year, online learning created a new way for students to pursue on campus leadership and begin to make their mark at this institution. For Obiora Okeke, a freshman history major from New York, his motivation compelled him to represent the Class of 2024 as this school year’s Mr. Freshman.
Before he became a familiar face amongst his peers, five other young men also had their eyes on the title of Mr. Freshman. Each one offered a creative campaign that allowed students to get to know them as well. Okeke carefully designed his platform, P.U.S.H., an acronym which stands for Perseverance, Unity, Service, Howard, to address common concerns first-year college students encounter in their online environments.
Before mapping out his hopes as a leader this year, Okeke found a way to trailblaze through the campaign season. Social media presence was a determining factor, which made reaching out to others come easier to him.
“I was already a very active member of Howard Twitter and felt familiar with a large number of members in my class,” Okeke said.
Given that the Class of 2024 has yet to have a true on campus experience, a sense of community is something that many freshmen find themselves searching for.
The primary focus of P.U.S.H. is to provide first-year Bison with social opportunities that garner unity. “This could mean promoting organizations who are reaching out to our class. They serve as resources to help students throughout the semester by creating events where we can unwind and mingle.”
Despite his successful outreach, Mr. Freshman describes the virtual pageant as one of the most challenging things he has ever done. Since the event was held completely online, contestants were required to make a series of videos introducing themselves.
“Any one mistake would result in the need to re-record. I had 236 takes by time I was done and had my final videos prepared,” Okeke said. “It was a great experience, seeing all of our hard work shine on the livestream. There were so many talented contestants I believe it was hard for the judges to pick any one person that stood out.”
In the end, he was victorious.
Moving forward, Okeke wants students to remain hopeful during these unprecedented times. “Not being on campus was a devastating blow to the entire Bison family, and I felt like I could help alleviate some of the stressors that are coupled with virtual learning through using my platform to meet the needs of the students,” said Okeke.
Okeke wants to remind everyone that we are all in this together. As a Howard student himself, he cannot wait to step foot on campus, hopefully sooner than later. Furthermore, he is excited to one day experience Howard University’s Homecoming.
“I chose Howard because it is simply unparalleled [to] any other institution. Historically, Howard has been an illuminating pillar of excellence in the Black community.”