Udonne Eke-Okoro

Udonne Eke-Okoro, RTA, Barnard College ‘25

Date Interviewed: July 26, 2023

Introduce yourself!

My name is Udonne, I'm an RTA, and I'm from St. Louis, Missouri. I am a special combined major in Philosophy,  Human Rights, and Economics. I'm a rising junior at Barnard College.

What drew you to work at F&C?

For me, I thought for one I would have benefited so much in having a program like F&C that introduced me a little bit closer into the philosophy world. The closest [thing] I’d taken to philosophy before university was a bioethics class that I took in high school, and I knew that I was interested in philosophy, but I didn't really know what it looked like or what it meant. So I think just working so closely with these texts and constantly reading and reviewing and talking about them would have been very, very helpful for me. I also think on the teaching side of things, I appreciated the fact that F&C kind of provides this opportunity and does it in a way that is so carefully curated to guide what you are seeking to get out of it [and it’s] very, very much adaptable. I thought that it was just such a good initiative and that what [the program] does was so compelling to me that it was like, I just wanted to be involved in any capacity in this. It’s also a really good way to get to know you guys, and so that's what's keeping me here too, like it's just so nice to get to know you guys and see how your interests develop and form over time, so I was very intrigued.

What is your favorite part of the program?

I think my favorite part of the program was just honestly getting to know all of you as individuals and students. I think we made a really good effort of making, you know, our suite as close and welcoming as possible, but also just getting to know you guys as philosophers and as writers and as mentees. I think getting to know you guys in different aspects was a very valuable experience and something I cherish a lot—I was journaling about it today—talking about how much I love getting to know you guys and seeing all your little personalities come out and I think why I like it especially is because I can envision such a bright future for all you. I love predicting like oh my gosh, they’re going to go so far, like, I see it… I see it. So it's just nice to be on the side of helping you guys get there. You know what I mean? I think getting to know you guys in that way has been so sweet.

What is your favorite reading in the program and why?

Actually [it would be] the reading that we did today, Letter from Birmingham Jail. It’s a reading I've done probably about 20 times at this point for various classes, but I think every time there's something new that you kind of think about or can contemplate. I think MLK is a figure we see very prophetically, he's a figure who is hard to criticize, but it's also very easy to understand, to comprehend [his work]. [It’s great] finding this balance with every time you approach it there's always someone who finds something very, very small and takes that and makes it a whole new big, big argument. I love reading this piece because people take out so many different things from it because it's so easy to understand and so easy to digest. It makes it that much more fun to interpret and analyze.

What is one piece of advice that you would like to give to F&C students?

I think [the advice] I would like to give is to take advantage of all the resources you have now. Think of us as resources too, resources aren't just going to be the documents that you receive and what you read, it's also the experiences and the stories that you have here, so take that in whatever way you see it's helpful. [For example,] I don't think there's any conflicts that have majorly happened, but conflict resolution, how can you approach philosophical concepts in that way? Like the relationship that you have with your TAs, how can you use that as a way to model leadership for other people in the future? I think just taking advantage of literally every single bit of this program, because there's so so much to get out of it and you'll miss it when it's gone, so you don't take it for granted either.

What is one fun fact about you?

One fun fact about me? Lots of very interesting things about me. One basic fun fact about me is that I was named after my dad. So my dad's name is Udonna and my name is Udonne. It’s not something a lot of people know, but when they know I feel like it's funny to them. [My dad] loves to tell people that. A few of the TAs met him today because he lives in the city, so it was like Udonne Udonna (gesturing to herself then to the side) and he loves introducing us in that way. A different fun fact is that I accidentally almost got fully indoctrinated into a cult for about five months. That was crazy.