Chima Ogueri sees his whole life as shaped by community, whether that be from his family, his Nigerian heritage or his home at the University of Dallas.
Ogueri grew up right in the middle of six sisters, and credits them with guiding him through his different path in college.
“I always seek their advice, and family is the pinnacle of my values, to say the least,” Ogueri said. “I would always put my family before anything.”
Of all his siblings, Ogueri is the first to deviate from the technology schools of his pre-med sisters.
“I was kind of like a sore thumb, going out to a small private Catholic liberal arts school. And I’m a business major,” Ogueri explained.
He also made his own path by focusing on a love for soccer.
“At first, my sole reason for coming out to UD was because of soccer. I didn’t know about UD at all, to be honest,” Ogueri admitted. “The first semester was rough, I didn’t know how to handle athletics with everything else.”
Eventually, he decided to stay and discovered another kind of family in UD’s tight-knit community.
“There are just genuine people here, and I think that’s something that you can’t find anywhere else,” Ogueri said. “People… care about you and want the best for you, especially professors. I fell in love with this school and I don’t think I could see myself at any other place. I love this place and I’d call it my home. It’s sad that I’m leaving but I think I’ve made a lot of memories to put this place in my heart.”
His whole family is involved in creating a tight-knit community, especially when they give aid and build infrastructure in Nigeria. His Nigerian-born mother and father came to the US to get married while his father was pursuing a degree in law in the early 90s, but they returned with their children to visit family and friends in their home villages every couple of years.
“In Nigeria, things are tough. They’re really really tough,” said Ogueri, his buoyant attitude deflating as he described some of the many problems. “In the villages, you’ll walk by, and a lot of these kids are just barefoot running around, they don’t have shoes.”
“Malnutrition is the biggest thing,” Ogueri explained. “Some of my friends over there are 30 or 40, but if you just saw them, if they were here in the States you’d think they were like, 17 or 16.”
“Just having that cultural background plays a role in the development of who I am,” said Ogueri. “Without that, I wouldn’t have my eyes open to the difficulties of life that other people have, and how fortunate I am to be going to a school like this, even living in Old Mill. People complain about living in Old Mill, but I guarantee that hundreds and thousands of people in Nigeria would love to have the opportunity to live there.”
On their trips, he and his family stuff their suitcases full of clothing and shoes — “mostly girls’ clothes” he interjected laughingly — to give to friends or his mother’s family, who can distribute the goods to those in need.
“Dress clothes are a big thing because it’s a very Catholic community, but a lot of people might just have one outfit that they wear on Sunday, every Sunday,” Ogueri said.
Ogueri’s family is also involved in building more infrastructure for nearby villages, including wells with clean water and dorms for college students.
His dad hosts a soccer, or “football,” tournament every year around Christmas and gives prize money for the winners.
“Everyone comes out, the neighboring villages have their teams, there are actual refs, it’s a serious thing,” he said. “After Mass, people get super excited and talk and it’s all, ‘the match, the match.’ Here there are tournaments left and right but people kind of overlook them, and over there it’s a big deal.”
In Nigeria, Ogueri puts his UD soccer skills to good use playing with his friends and cousins.
“My dad also has six sisters, so it was going to happen either way,” he joked.
Ogueri has a competitive streak and loves to go paintballing during the summers.
“Soccer’s over and I don’t plan on playing after I graduate, so I need something to keep that competitive edge,” he said.
He also hopes to go into the competitive field of real estate with his business degree, and already has some experience from his job this summer.
“I think it’s so fascinating in the development of huge institutions like this,” he said, gesturing around the UD campus at the Cap Bar.
“Out of everyone that I’ve met in the business world who went to UD, they all show signs of the type of person I want to be,” he said.
Although Ogueri will be graduating in the spring, he will undoubtedly continue to appreciate the small things in life and discover a community wherever he makes his next home.