Graduate student reinvigorates honor society

Kynslie Otte

Graduate student Oluseun “Sam” Idowu has become a prominent member of Phi Kappa Phi.

Since his induction in April of 2009, Idowu has become the vice president of the UMKC chapter, one of 10 student members on PKP’s national Council of Students and one of two student members on the PKP Board of Directors. He is also the first student in UMKC history to receive the national PKP “Love of Learning” award.

Founded in 1897, PKP is one of the nation’s largest yet most selective collegiate honor societies for all academic disciplines, with more than 300 chapters across the U.S., the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

Idowu was invited to join PKP during his first academic year at UMKC because of his 4.0 GPA.

PKP offers membership to juniors, seniors, graduate and professional students who meet certain academic requirements. Juniors must have completed 72 credit hours and rank in the top 7.5 percent of their class. Seniors, graduate and professional students must rank in the top 10 percent of their class.

Since his induction, Idowu has revamped the UMKC chapter of PKP.

“PKP activities on campus had been solely run by faculty and staff before I became involved,” Idowu said. “Student involvement had been really inactive. After I joined, I reinvigorated the student chapter of the organization.”

Idowu wrote and secured approval of the constitution and bylaws that allowed the student chapter of PKP to be recognized as a student organization.

He also initiated the first student and alumni get-together and information session. Because of Idowu’s contributions, UMKC’s student chapter of PKP now has three student vice presidents and more than 50 student members. Idowu enjoys speaking to new inductees at each initiation ceremony.

Despite his high level of involvement, Idowu said he was initially hesitant to join PKP because of the $40 membership fee.

Idowu said that he was convinced to join by Olson Professor Charles Wurrey, who explained to him how membership could potentially enhance his academic career.

“He made me realize what I could gain by joining the honor society,” Idowu said. “He mentioned some of the people who are members – like Chancellor Morton, Provost Gail Hackett and most of the deans on campus. I realized that former presidents of the United States are also in this group, and I became very interested.”

In addition to being an influential member of PKP, Idowu is a busy family man and an international student pursuing an interdisciplinary Ph.D.

“It’s been very demanding, but I think my greatest motivation is that I love doing what I’m doing,” Idowu said. “I am really enjoying it because I like to give back to my community and serve humanity – which is one of the main thrusts of PKP. I always impact people positively, but it takes a lot of commitment, dedication and hard work.”

Idowu moved to the U.S. from Lagos, Nigeria, and experienced a difficult first year away from home.

“Life is a lot different,” he said. “During my first two weeks here at UMKC, I lost my dear mother back home in Africa. I was devastated, and I went through the pain all alone. I was going to quit my studies at UMKC then because I couldn’t travel home for the funeral and I was really sad, but with perseverance, I encouraged myself and I eventually overcame that shock.”

Since then, Idowu has started a family of his own, and relies on its support during stressful times.

“I love my family. My wife and children are always there for me anytime, especially when I need a break,” he said. “Without them with me here, I can’t cope. They are such a great blessing.”

Idowu said that he looks forward to continuing his work with PKP, and that he is glad to be a part of the UMKC community.

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