For alum Shekinah Olagunju, every day on the job is unpredictable. As a senior associate at RED | For Africa, a consulting and marketing communications agency in Lagos, Nigeria, she works with diverse clients, strategizing marketing campaigns, and solving problems. Everyday provides a new challenge “where I have to use a different skill or learn something new. I really dislike monotonous work so I love to see what the new week brings me,” she says.
Unlike her jobs in the U.S., at RED | For Africa Shekinah works directly with brands, clients, and even governments. As a native Nigerian in tune with its culture, she has “an in-depth understanding of what the streets are saying, and can even predict the next trends.” This marks quite a change from her time attending school in America where a lot of her work involved adjusting to the foreign culture. Going back home to Nigeria had its perks, but Shekinah still misses the diversity of cultures and backgrounds she experienced in the U.S. that pushed her to “think outside the box and always be in a constant state of learning.”
She developed this thirst for learning in her four years at Messiah where she participated in the American Studies Program in Washington, D.C. and took a cross-cultural trip to China. Shekinah reflects, “I met different people, experienced different cultures, and expanded my viewpoint of the world… It has made me eager for new experiences, so even if I can’t travel due to the ongoing pandemic, I view new worlds online to expand my horizons.” This diverse international exposure inspires her daily, even years later.
But what’s the point of inspiration if you don’t act on it? Shekinah uses her inspiration to make a difference. Her passions revolve around social issues and the impact that communication can have. She explains, “Growing up in Nigeria, I deeply understand the many challenges my country and other African countries are facing, and wanting to be a part of the change.” When she works with her team on marketing and PR ideas, she always stops to consider their work’s social impact and its potential influence on the community. She realizes, “I did not have to wait until I was a bigshot or a millionaire to begin impacting my community.” Instead, she uses her work to listen to others and help make a positive change.
This perspective provides the foundation for all Shekinah does. Sometimes, exhaustion sets in, but “seeing the ideas come to life and hearing real life stories of those who have been impacted make me thankful for my job,” she notes, “and gives me the energy every day to get up in the morning excited to get some work done.”
— April Hooper ’22