Rebel with a Cause: Fairhaven Student Ebonezé Oluchi Creates Three Fairhaven Scholarships
By Frances Badgett
(Oluchi uses ze, zim, zis gender non-conforming pronouns)
When Ebonezé “Ebon” Oluchi wrote zis letter of intent when applying to Fairhaven College, ze wrote that if admitted, ze wanted to establish scholarships as part of zis undergraduate experience. Once admitted, Oluchi got to work right away, forming a scholarship working group with Interim Fairhaven Dean John Bower and Fairhaven staff. Initially, a leadership scholarship for Latinx students, the scholarship offerings changed and expanded to three: a scholarship for leadership in BIPOC issues; a scholarship for emotional intelligence; and, a scholarship for resilience. All three scholarships are being awarded in spring of 2021.
This caring Fairhaven student believes in Agape—the Greek concept of universal empathy—and lives this belief every day. Oluchi’s concentration at Fairhaven is in Sustainability Development & Innovation. The three scholarships are a blend of innovation, Diversity Equity and Inclusion, and economic development—which can all be found in the university’s sustainability pillars. The Fairhaven Opportunity Scholarship for Emotional Intelligence is the first one of its kind in an undergraduate institution. Oluchi is happy that Fairhaven College has made history on a such a nationwide scale.
“I’m a dreamer and do-er. I feel so at home at Fairhaven, and I want other people like me to find a home here, too,” says Oluchi.
The Fairhaven student spent zis life in Boston and its suburbs before moving to Oregon. Zis candidacy as a student was championed by staff, faculty, and Dean Bower. Oluchi is Black, Indigenous, and identifies as Gender Non-Conforming. Ze has been an Afrofuturist since Spring 2016.
“Afrofuturism is a vehicle of expression for Black creatives. I create opportunities for myself to thrive and to free others from life's barriers. Much of the world was introduced to Afrofuturism when the movie Black Panther arrived, and it's an amazing example, but it's one of many. Afrofuturism is engrained into my lifestyle,” ze says.
Oluchi sees zimself as not only finding a path for zimself, but for other students like zim.
“I have always felt different and out of place everywhere I go. I wanted to help those, who like me, feel ‘other’ academically and socially,” says Oluchi.
Fairhaven admissions counselor Mario Orallo-Molinaro works closely with Oluchi. “Ebon is only in zis third quarter at Fairhaven, and ze’s created three scholarships,” he said. “Here’s what’s remarkable about zim—ze didn’t need to know how the machine worked, ze just wanted to do something immediate and innovative that will have a lasting impact.”
The scholarships are not based on merit or transcripts, but rather other qualities that make a person a successful student.
“Students who are struggling who are leaders, who are resilient, who have emotional intelligence will succeed if they receive support,” Oluchi says. “I know, I was one of those. Once you have people who support you, who believe in you, you can succeed. I’ve been able to find a door for myself, and I wanted to open that door for others.”
When ze looks at zheir own support structure, ze mentions former and current staff and faculty at Fairhaven.
“Anna Blick, Ceci Lopez, Mario Orallo-Molinaro, Kasandra Seda, and Dean Bower have invested in me, and provided emotional support and guidance to me—I know they have my best interest at heart,” says Oluchi.
Ze also acknowledges and emphasizes the advocacy from Fairhaven alumnus Fred Collins Jr. as well as working guidance from Fairhaven development officer Sonja Sather.
“What is amazing is that Ebon is still working, still pushing. Ze didn’t create three scholarships and consider zis work finished. Ze’s still pushing forward to the next big thing,” says Orallo-Molinaro.