Faith by Design: The Winding Road that Brought Olaniyi Owolabi to ORU
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
A straight line is the shortest distance between two points, but in life, we don’t always get a straight line to our plans and goals. For ORU’s Olaniyi Owolabi, the line to ORU took a winding path, one that began with a ministry in Nigeria. Joining his friend, Olaniyi went on the road to preach the Gospel throughout his country. However, Olaniyi’s direction started to change when he was asked to create designs for a local church.
“I taught myself graphic design by watching YouTube,” Olaniyi said, “so when I started, it wasn’t very good. But as I got better, people took notice, and I began creating designs for small business and travel agencies. At the time, I was living hand to mouth, but I wasn’t suffering. Thankfully, I was able to make some money for myself.”
Eventually, the demand for Olaniyi’s work grew, and one of the largest banks in Lagos hired him as a graphic designer. Friends told him that if he ever left, he’d never find a job that paid as well. But as Olaniyi continued to pray, a seed was planted, and he began to search for something more.
“My mom,” Olaniyi said, “really wanted me to leave the country. The economy there can be difficult, and my parents always wanted a better life for me. So, we met with an advisor who specialized in helping people find universities outside Nigeria. He told me about ORU, and I knew the time had come to act. I knew God was leading me in this direction.”
I want to use graphic design to reach out to people internationally and share the life of Jesus. I’ve been called to preach the Gospel, and there’s so many places on Earth where we can better communicate and build trust."
Trusting God, Finding Growth
“Basically trusting God” … that’s how Olaniyi answers the question “Why did you come to ORU?” This trust helped Olaniyi find one of America’s most diverse college communities, a campus that’s educated students from over 140 nations. Diversity is one of the many things that sets ORU apart from other universities, and in 2023, ORU was named the #1 most diverse university in Oklahoma (Niche).
“I’ve met a lot of different people at the International Student Center,” Olaniyi said. “I have friends from China, Latin America, and Africa. When I came here, my experiences were limited, but I’m starting to understand how broad and wide the world is. We talk about growing in faith at ORU, but I’m growing as a whole person too.”
Growing—both personally and spiritually—is important to Olaniyi, and this is the type of growth that he’s experiencing on campus. Spiritually, Olaniyi describes ORU as a place where professors pray for you and where your faith is strengthened.” In depicting the community, Olaniyi says that ORU is a place where “God will stare directly into your face.”
“People can be moved intellectually,” Olaniyi said, “but their hearts need to be transformed too. You can find that transformation at ORU because this is a place where God lives in every nook and cranny. Here, you’ll find God in every way.”
The Next Step Is a Big Step
From preacher to designer to college student, Olaniyi followed a winding path to ORU. But today, Olaniyi has a clearer vision of his next step forward. As a graphic design major, Olaniyi doesn’t want to leave a small footprint on the world; he wants to leave a global footprint. After graduation, Olaniyi plans to use his design skills to share his faith with an international audience.
“ORU’s vision is to raise up people who do great works,” Olaniyi said, “and having lived in ORU’s international community, I’ve watched this campus bring different people together. Like that, I want to use graphic design to reach out to people internationally and share the life of Jesus. I’ve been called to preach the Gospel, and there’s so many places on Earth where we can better communicate and build trust. God has been speaking to me about global outreach, and my plan is to connect with people all over the world.”
God has been speaking to me about global outreach, and my plan is to connect with people all over the world.”
ABOUT ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY
ORU is a Christian, Spirit-empowered, interdenominational university in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with over a decade of consecutive enrollment growth. Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, ORU offers over 150 majors, minors, concentrations, and pre-professional programs at the bachelor’s level, ranging from business and engineering to nursing, ministry, and more. Under the leadership of President Dr. William Wilson, ORU is preparing students from all 50 states and 142 nations (from 2019 to 2022) to be whole leaders for the whole world.
The Wall Street Journal ranked ORU as the #4 university in the nation for student engagement. This ranking is based upon faculty interactions, collaborative learning, critical thinking, real-world applications of student learning, the extent to which classes challenge students, and whether students would recommend a university to others. Niche recognizes ORU as one of the most diverse colleges in America.
ORU has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as:
- #1 in Undergraduate Teaching
- #2 in Most International Students
- #3 in Best Value
- #6 in Best College for Veterans
- #7 in Best Regional Colleges in the West
For more information, visit www.oru.edu.