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He graduated cum laude in Accounting and Political Science on May 14. See the video about Joel from Commencement, followed by a transcript below.
Growing up, I played soccer. Soccer was the sport back home in Nigeria. Everybody played soccer. One day I walking home from school and this basketball coach saw me and he said, “Wow, you’re very tall. Why don’t you come check out this sport — it’s called basketball.”
I had never heard of it before. I was kind of hesitant at first.
Two weeks later, I went and he said, “All right, take off your slippers and we’ll show you how this is done.” And I started doing the basics of basketball with my bare feet. And that was how I started playing basketball. Before you know it I was here in the U.S. playing basketball.
My name is Joel Adese. I am a senior majoring in political science and accounting.
I grew up in a village with my grandparents in Nigeria, then I moved to the city with my mom. I lost my dad when I was a very tender age so I didn’t get to quite know him very well. My mom is very strict. She actually laid the foundation, you know, how I should be as a man, so that really was how I grew up and that has helped in the long run coming here to the U.S. for high school and also college.
I’m the first child in my family so I want to really set the bar high, especially for my younger brothers. They really motivate me as well to keep on going.
Even when i was coming to the U.S. my mom was really focused on my academics. She said, “To go the U.S. I want you to study hard. You want to go to law school, study hard,” and all of that. The game was just kind of like a secondary option. So when I came to high school here in a Catholic school my mum really was wanting me to go.
She said, “Yeah, this would be good for you. Let’s just give it a shot.”
I got taught you know the basics of the religion and it spoke to me. I was old enough — I was 18 at that time. So I made the choice to become Catholic and I got baptized and that has really helped a lot in transitioning to Benedictine College for sure.”
I was able to be noticed by Coach Moody, the basketball coach here at school. It was easy for me to choose Benedictine. The fact that it’s a Catholic school, that was almost a given. Just the fact that it’s a Catholic school, that was almost a given. Just the environment the people you talk to outside the locker room, it’s a constant reminder not to forget your faith.
So I go to Benedictine ultimately to study political science and gear my career towards a law school. Basketball helped propel that. Even my coach sometimes thinks I’m a little crazy. I play basketball, I double major, I take on heavy hours. I look at it from the perspective of the classes. It’s seven classes, and I think I can handle that. For me, it’s doable.
With the law degree I really would like to apply that back home. The political situation in my country isn’t the best. I want to go back home and do the best I can, just do the best I can going forward.
I’m scared in a good way. It’s kind of overwhelming to think of, but I’m at the same time really optimistic because knowing my background and how I’ve been brought up. I know I can do it. I know I can get to that goal moving from one country to another. It’s just a bump in the way. The goal is always there, but you just have to cross a few hurdles to get there. I can see the goal. I can see the end of it so just having that goal is what really motivates me and also those people who have helped me along the way. I don’t want to let them down so that also motivates me to keep on pushing.