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I was born and raised in the Bronx, the youngest of six kids, between 167th and McClellan Street. My mother was a single parent working through nursing school, so education and the desire for knowledge were huge for her. So, when she got wind of the KIPP Academy on 156th Street, she did everything in her power to get my older sister in the door. That’s how I got introduced to the program. It was KIPP’s first New York City school and the second KIPP school in the country.
I studied civil engineering at NYU because of a field trip I had as a KIPP student. We visited an architecture firm in downtown Manhattan, and I saw how cool it was to create something. Coming from a Nigerian household, you're a doctor or a lawyer. If you're not, good luck. But none of those fields spoke to me the way engineering did. It meshed creativity and science, which I loved from a young age.
So, when we're building facilities like this, it’s giving those kids the chance to push forward.
When I started at Suffolk, someone mentioned that we were bidding for a charter school in my neighborhood. Turns out it was KIPP. I told the team that I wanted to be involved in any way I can. Now, here I am, building an expansion of the program where I went. Some of my teachers are still here, so I get to see them and hear how they’re doing.
I always wanted to build in the environment I grew up in. When people think of New York, they think of highly commercial areas like Manhattan, but New York and its people are really on the outskirts. So, when we're building facilities like this, it’s giving those kids the chance to push forward. They’re not on the outside looking in. They’re educated enough to start making the decisions that shape their communities and their lives.
For me to be part of giving that back to this school?
My mom was really proud of that.
Josh Ojo is an assistant superintendent at Suffolk. He credits KIPP with finding a sponsor to fund his high school education, providing him with lifelong advisers and giving him the chance to perform in a traveling orchestra with John Legend. He still lives in the Bronx.
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