Fulbright Scholar Enjoying ATU Experience

Dr. Michael Ogu immediately sensed freedom all around him upon arriving at Arkansas Tech University.

“I observed that there are no fences,” said Ogu. “Institutions are just open. Houses…there are no marks on the territory. In Nigeria, almost every house, every church and building has a fence with a gate and you need to go through security to get in. You can just drive in and drive out of Arkansas Tech. That was really kind of a shock and a surprise to me.”

A Fulbright Visiting Scholar in Residence teaching and researching at ATU during the 2018-19 academic year, Ogu is on sabbatical from his regular teaching duties at Babcock University in his native Nigeria.

“I am one who doesn’t fancy scholarship just domestically…I like to explore,” said Ogu. “I was told that I was selected, to my amazement, because I know that there are so many applications that come in and are scrutinized. I was really excited that I was selected (as a Fulbright Scholar).

“As an international relations scholar, I want to have a first-hand experience of how governance happens outside of Nigeria,” continued Ogu. “I haven’t traveled as much as I would have loved to, but when I have the opportunity, I like to seize it. It’s true that you leave loved ones behind, but it’s just temporary and you are expanding your sphere of influence and your circle of friends. Relationships are very important as we grow in life.”

Ogu completed his undergraduate degree at Babcock University in 2009 and invested the next year of his life in a compulsory program that included an internship in the banking industry.

The internship led to a job offer, but banking was not his destiny. Instead, he chose a graduate assistantship that opened the door to a teaching career.

“One of the reasons why I wanted to give it a try was I had this dream of earning my Ph.D. from a very early age,” said Ogu. “As I weighed my options, I thought that the graduate assistantship would lead me to the dream I’d always had. Everything came together at just the right time, and I seized the opportunity.”

At ATU, Ogu is teaching courses in international relations and the history of modern Africa during the fall 2018 semester.

He will preside over a seminar class during the spring 2019 semester concerning current politics and related issues in western Africa. Topics in that class will include immigration, displacement, conflict and security challenges.

“We will explore some of those issues and trying to see what exactly are the costs of these issues and what the consequences are for the people involved, as well as society,” said Ogu.

Ogu has attended a conference for college history professors in Arkansas since arriving at Arkansas Tech, and he has plans to participate in a similar conference for college political science professors around the state during the spring 2019 semester.

“Students here, perhaps they are still getting used to my style of teaching, but I find them a little reserved sometimes,” said Ogu. “I have devised means of getting to know them and asking them to visit me during my office hours so I can get to know them and make them feel at ease. I think that is helping to build the kind of bond that will help us interact better in the courses that I teach. It’s important to understand the students’ motivation so that I can know how to help sustain them in their studies.”

Ogu was the featured speaker for the Friday, Nov. 9, ATU Interdisciplinary Research Series event at Dr. Robert Charles Brown and Jill Lestage Brown Hall. The presentation focused on Ogu’s doctoral research on modern Nigeria and the security issues prevalent there due to terrorism and resource conflicts.

As he looks to the future, Ogu hopes to be able to mirror the detail included in syllabi at Arkansas Tech when he returns to his teaching work in Nigeria.

There’s something else of a more cultural nature that he hopes to model for colleagues, students and neighbors in his homeland.

“Everybody opens the door and allows you to walk past,” said Ogu of his experiences at ATU. “That hardly happens in Nigeria. I think that is one thing I will take back when I go. People here smile at you and say hello. That’s very interesting to me. People are friendly. I arrived with my wife, and we’ve had faculty and staff members volunteer to give us rides to the store and church. People help you selflessly without expecting anything in return. We have been made to feel very at home.”