Senior Uzoma Ayogu emphasizes his understanding of the wide Duke experience and his enterprising spirit in his campaign for undergraduate Young Trustee.

Ayogu—a mechanical engineering major—co-founded The Releaf Group, an investment procurement platform that aims to make investing easier in Africa. He is also the Class of 2017 President for Engineering Student Government and chairs the Diversity and Inclusion Undergraduate Committee of Pratt School of Engineering. 

“To be a Young Trustee, you have to be thoughtful enough to make the best decisions with your younger perspective to push Duke forward,” Ayogu said. “This is someone who has a really broad understanding of the Duke experience, who is able to give insights and make non-obvious and nonlinear conclusions from a variety of channels and make the best decisions for Duke as a whole.”

Ayogu, who was born in Nigeria and raised in South Africa, referenced his experience as a member of the International First-Year Advisory Council and a member of Dukes and Duchesses as representative of his ability to understand both Duke’s history and future.

“I’ve been deeply involved throughout my Duke experience,” Ayogu said. “And being able to develop those relationships and prioritizing those relationships has given me a really nuanced understanding of the complex student experience.”

With his international experience and knowledge working with students from many facets of Duke, Ayogu said that he would be uniquely qualified to address issues on Duke’s campus.

He discussed three key issues on Duke’s—sexual assault, financial aid and the University's rising global presence. He also connected his experience with his startup The Releaf Group to the Young Trustee position.

“Duke is on average 100 years younger than all its peers," Ayogu said. "Duke is like the startup of elite, premier educational institutions. So it’s that kind of nimble and innovative thinking that has allowed us to get where we are.”

In an email, Kathy Sikkema—professor of psychology, neuroscience, global health, psychiatry and behavioral sciences—noted Ayogu’s unique ability to collaborate and communicate across disciplines.

“Uzo is potentially unmatched in energy and enthusiasm, yet thoughtful and reflective," she wrote. "He is able to embrace a number of perspectives, and truly engages with others."

Ayogu would be an excellent representative of young alumni because of his diverse connections, dependability and goal-oriented drive, said Johnna Frierson, director of diversity and inclusion at Pratt.

In addition, senior Hannah McCormack, president of Dukes and Duchesses, noted Ayogu’s understanding of the student body, global perspective and ability to develop meaningful relationships.

“One thing I’ve admired and enjoyed about Uzo always is that he’s always done such a good job of connecting with every single different type of Duke student,” she said. “His ability to care and emphasize with so many different types of people is something that I think really stands out and is really indicative of the kind of person he is.”