For UAlbany alumnus William Thomas, being named Maryland's 2009 Teacher of the Year has its perks. But the biggest reward will be meeting President Barack Obama, when he's honored at the White House.Read More
Christopher Onuorah, '12
Ambitious Scholar and Role Model
University at Albany sophomore Christopher Onuorah abides by one personal rule: Be content but never complacent. The philosophy has pushed him to accomplish ambitious goals, including earning the Frederick Douglass Scholarship for high academic achievement as an incoming freshman. It continues to drive Onuorah’s successes as a positive role model, student ambassador and mentor at UAlbany.
"I feel like there's so much that I can achieve, that I have something to prove," said Onuorah, of Elmont, Long Island. "I expect a lot from myself."
A self-described technology buff, Onuorah is majoring in Information Studies, lured by the creativity in Web site design, he plans to become a Web designer/engineer, a career option solidified with an internship at MetLife last summer. There, he earned the INROADS/MetLife Scholarship Award and was also named an INROADS Champion, helping recruit new talent for MetLife internships and scholarships from UAlbany and other campuses.
His desire to succeed is rooted in inspiration from his family. Onuorah is constantly awed by his Nigerian-born parents, whose work ethic and sacrifices allowed them to thrive in the U.S.
"Things were never easy for us. Many times I saw their ability to multi-task between work and bills, and it inspired me to do well. Any success for me is a victory for my family too," said Onuorah. “I don’t want everything they"ve given us to be in vain."
That was evident as early as the fourth grade, when Onuorah first learned what an academic scholarship was. He promptly promised his parents he’d get one – which he did.
"When I learned that Frederick Douglass Scholars are people that the University deems as dynamic and potentially great contributors to the campus, I was humbled," said Onuorah. "Now that I’m here and actually see how diverse this campus really is, I’m so proud that I was selected for this prestigious honor."
In just his second year at UAlbany, Onuorah is quickly adding to a growing list of academic accolades, which include the Spellman Academic Achievement Award. He has also been named to the Chi Alpha Epsilon Honor Society,National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Presidential Honor Society.
Onuorah enjoys leading by example, much like his parents did for him, and guiding his peers to help them succeed. This year, the 19-year-old began serving as a Project Excel Peer Mentor in the Office of Academic Support Services. He is also a residential assistant on campus.
"In my various positions of leadership on campus, I realize that many eyes are on me and it's very important for me to set a positive example," said Onuorah. In his role as a Purple & Gold Student Ambassador (purple and gold are the UAlbany colors), Onuorah acts as host, representing the University at high-profile functions to alumni, University guests, the campus and the community.
For Onuorah, it's also important to take advantage of every opportunity on campus. He is a member of the Cooking Association of SUNY Albany and a trumpeter in the University Symphonic Band.
"America is truly a land of opportunity, much like the University. There is a world of possibilities right here for me," said Onuorah.