Always looking for opportunities to serve his community, University of Indianapolis Alumni Association President and Board of Trustees Member Uche Unogu said that he has risen into his leadership positions in the last six to eight years. After graduating from UIndy, Unogu began traveling the world, 33 countries in total, on evangelical missionary trips for thousands of people. One of the things that brought Unogu back to UIndy was when University President Robert Manuel approached him about joining the Alumni Board.
“[Manuel] gave me some really good advice. He said, ‘You know, once you get in, just put your heart into it. Just go full-time on it, sir. Give not because you’re trying to become the president, just go into it, whatever you do,’” Unogu said. “It’s almost like the Bible verse I say: ‘Whatever my hands find to do, do with all my might.’”
Since growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Unogu said he has felt God’s call to do something internationally, whether that was studying abroad or missionary work. He said, however, that he did not know how he could achieve that goal.
Unogu said that Former Head Soccer Coach Bob Kouril was instrumental both in recruiting him and encouraging him that studying abroad was right for him. However, because Unogu’s NCAA information failed to go through in time, Unogu was unable to participate in soccer when he first entered college, he said. By the time Unogu’s information went through, Kouril had moved on to another job.
“I literally didn’t know anybody, and so college wasn’t really that much fun for me,” Unogu said. “In the sense, like I said, I didn’t really know that many people. It really took a couple [of] years for me to kind of get into the groove.”
Because he did not have any relatives who had graduated from an American institution, Unogu said, he was on his own in terms of finishing school. Unogu said his experiences at UIndy taught him that if he set his mind to it, he could accomplish his goals.
“Getting admitted [to college] is one thing because then you rejoice: ‘Woo-hoo, I got an admission.’ But now you [have] got to enroll,” Unogu said. “That’s a whole different beast. You [have] got to pay the money, get the classes you need to get. So now you’ve been admitted, you’ve enrolled, well, now you [have] got to finish.”
Unogu said that he had a lot of help along the way, including that of former Career Services Office Assistant Director Libby Davis. According to Davis, she met Unogu during his freshman year of 2004, when he came to investigate the Career Services Office, which later would become the Professional Edge Center.
“My first impressions were ‘here is this person who just persevered through a lot of difficulties, even getting to the university,’” Davis said. “I was very impressed with the fact that he left his homeland in Nigeria, and he arrived [at]… the University of Indianapolis not knowing one single person. That was impressive to me.”
Davis said that throughout Unogu’s years at UIndy, she would invite Unogu to her home for meals, invite him to her church, bring him essential groceries and generally help him. Within a few months of knowing her, Unogu began to call her “mom,” and her family became his first American family, she said.
“… On that journey [through college], there were a lot of discouragements, but he never let it get to the point where he couldn’t function and couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Davis said. “And quite honestly, I mean, his faith plays a huge part, huge. He really trusted God to get him through, to provide for him, and it was just such a blessing.”