Written by Jane Onuma
Banjo Olaleye moved to Saskatoon from Nigeria in 2015 for his master’s program at the University of Saskatchewan. He has a BSc honor in English and International studies from Osun State University, Nigeria; a master’s degree in English and is currently completing a PHD in English from the University of Saskatchewan. He has worked at the University for 7 years, starting as a research assistant, becoming a teaching assistant between 2016 and 2017. Between 2017 and 2019 he worked for the International Student and Study Abroad Center (ISSAC) and has also worked as a sectional lecturer for St. Thomas More College (STM) and the English department. Banjo currently works as an academic advisor mentoring students in Arts and Science.
As an academic advisor, he manages two portfolios. He advises all the students in Arts and Science with a close focus on international students; and handles the academic aspects of students studying abroad to make sure that the classes they take count for credit at the U of S.
He believes that having degrees in English have helped tremendously in breaking down responses to students and that his background and personal experience make international students feel more comfortable with him as he has been through the process and can relate to them.
What Banjo loves most about his job is helping students inside and outside of class and enjoying the work relationships and community at the University. Colleagues from previous roles, like ISSAC staff members, still check in on him and relationships with others are easy to build on campus. His work has also been appreciated, receiving a merit award as an academic advisor, and being nominated for the STM teaching excellence award.
Living away from home also has its challenges. In his early days in Canada, he was faced with cultural differences, cold and loneliness. The challenges have however eased as he acclimatized to the weather and built a community. He notes that even though he comes from an English-speaking country, he has had to relearn words and pronunciations as he realized that some things have different meanings in Nigeria and Canada.
Banjo, the only black advisor in the undergraduate office, is passionate about helping people and representing the black community well. He seeks to conduct himself in a way that would make them proud. He wants also to inspire people of color to know that they can achieve whatever they aspire to.
Even though Banjo doesn’t volunteer with ASPA, this is something he is interested in, and he values having a body that represents him to the university as he is confident that ASPA is negotiating the best deals for him. He is grateful for the tuition waiver and professional development fund for ASPA members as they have saved him thousands of dollars in tuition and enabled him to develop academically and professionally.
To all ASPA members, Banjo says “keep doing what you’re doing and do the best you can because someone is always watching. When it’s time you’d be appreciated and acknowledged”.