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2013 Lindley Award Winner Tolu Adekunle strives for global change

2013 Lindley Award Winner

Honored undergraduate Tolu Adekunle strives for global change

By Lisa Laughlin

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

These words are what have inspired Tolu Adekunle, the 2013 Lindley Award winner, to strive for excellence during her past three years at Idaho. This mindset undoubtedly contributed to her academic success, as the young lady originally from Accra, Ghana graduates Summa Cum Laude this spring with a 4.0 GPA and B.S. in International Studies.

“I had never known a prodigy before I began working with Tolu, and certainly I did not expect a prodigy to be so humble and hard working,” said Bill Smith, Tolu’s advisor and Director of the Martin Institute. “I don’t generally recommend 20 credits – all of them academic as opposed to including PE, IDST, or other experiential classes – to any freshman, much less one newly arrived in the country.”

But Tolu excelled in her first semester, and has taken 20 credits ever since. She will be the only student who started at Idaho in 2010 to complete a degree in three years without advanced placement credits, duel enrollment, or transfer credits.

“In her IS [International Studies] classes she has demonstrated a propensity to ask hard questions about her culture, even while maintaining the highest degree of respect for it,” said Smith. “Indeed, she exhibits what I call a peculiar intellectual curiosity embodied by UI’s best students.”

And that intellectual curiosity has led Tolu to some interesting and rewarding experiences while at Idaho. But integrating into Idaho’s campus straight from rural Africa wasn’t without difficulty.  

. . . Read the rest of Tolu's story