Nigerian professor strives to improve education

Nigerian professor strives to improve education

Victor Diaz

The story of Cerritos College political science professor Sunday Obazuaye is something that many people may consider to be somewhat unusual.

Obazuaye is a native of Nigeria, where he spent his high school years in before leaving the country in search for academic prosperity.

“In any society, there is the good, the bad and the ugly. The society I grew up in Nigeria had a drive for education,” Obazuaye said.

“Many people wanted to go to college after graduating high school but there weren’t enough universities to go to.

“When I left Nigeria, there were only 12 universities and at the time, there were 19 states in the country.”

Obazuaye also went on to mention that tribal discrimination, as well as the political situation at the time made it harder for Nigerian students to attend college.

He pointed out that things did not seem to turn around for Nigerians until 1978 when a new civilian government was placed in the country, replacing the previous military regime.

According to Obazuaye, this made it easier for students, such as himself, to resume their academic careers.

This allowed him to attend a teacher’s training college after six years of not being able to attend any university.

At the same time that he applied for teacher’s training, he also applied for admission at Alaska Pacific University, which was granted to him.

“After one term in the teacher’s college in Nigeria, I weighed the advantages and disadvantages and decided to come to the United States,” he said.

Upon arriving in Alaska, Obazuaye learned that Alaska Pacific was becoming an ethnically diverse school.

“The institution was going through reorganization, and the new president wanted to have a campus that had a very integrated student body,” he said.

He also mentioned that Alaska Pacific was the home for other students hailing from Asia, Africa and Europe.

Obazuaye brought up the fact that when he tells people of his experience in Alaska, many eyebrows are raised.

“All I was looking for was the opportunity to get my foot in the door of any university that would let me in,” he said, “So when people ask me, ‘Why Alaska? Why not California?’ I say it was because I had a sense of adventure, that’s where the opportunity was at the time.”

After leaving Alaska, Obazuaye arrived in California, teaching at Chaffey College in 1998 and Cal Poly Pomona from 2000 to 2008, teaching political science and public administration before arriving at Cerritos.

Obazuaye considers himself to be a “great encourager of education.”

“I see education as the key to many doors in life. I see education as a tool that anybody can use to succeed in life,” he said.

“Education does not necessarily mean being within the four walls of an institution. You can be educated without attending a university system or a community college.”

Another thing that Obazuaye enjoys is reaching out to students of various cultures. “One of my satisfactions in teaching is the fact that I can teach students from diverse nationalities,” he said.

“That gives me great satisfaction because I see myself as an international person.”

Bryan Reece, dean of humanities and social sciences, has found his time working with Obazuaye to be a positive one.

“As a colleague, he’s great to work with,” Reece said.

“He’s the kind of colleague that is very dependable, never flaky at all.”

Some of his students also consider Obazuaye to be a good educator.

“So far, he’s kept the class interesting, and it’s a hard subject to keep interesting,” said computer science major Javier Corrales, who is also a student in Obazuaye’s economics class.

Ana Baltazar, nursing major, said, “He makes it so those who don’t understand economics understand it.

“I understand it, and I never thought I would.”