Outstanding Graduate from Nigeria Maintains Commitment to Scholarship, Fellowship on Campus

By Richard Guerrero | Published: August 06, 2019

Outstanding Graduate from Nigeria Maintains Commitment to Scholarship, Fellowship on Campus

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In his search for a graduate accounting program, Nigeria native Jamiu Opoola discovered that few U.S. schools are internationally accredited by the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB). Through his research, Opoola learned that the Master of Accountancy degree at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi was accredited by not only the AACSB but also by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.

“I learned that in addition to the quality education, TAMU-CC graduate programs are affordable, and there are a lot of funding opportunities for international students.”

Opoola maintained a 4.0 GPA and will graduate with a Master of Accountancy degree on Saturday, Aug. 10. The Summer 2019 Commencement Ceremony is the Island University’s largest summer commencement to date.

A first-generation college student, Opoola notes that his parents did not have the opportunity to receive a formal education.  

“My dad has no education – not even elementary school education – but his passion for education has brought me this far,” Opoola said. 

The journey from the bustling metropolis of Lagos, Nigeria, in West Africa to the Island University on the Gulf Coast of Texas began with Opoola’s passion for finance. In 2014, he graduated with honors from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. A high academic achiever, Opoola received prizes and a merit award as the top finance student in the program. However, Opoola said he decided to shift his career direction after accepting a position with a real estate company.

“After earning my diploma in finance, I worked for a real estate firm, and that experience got me interested in accounting. Accounting helps a business owner communicate the performance of their business,” he said. “Most corporations are run by management teams, so the owners only understand how a company performs based on the reporting from management through accounting and financial reports.” 

As an international student, Opoola said he faced myriad challenges, including adjusting to a new climate and meeting new people. To make new friends, he joined several student organizations, which gave him an opportunity to meet other students and learn more about campus culture.

“Through extracurricular activities, I was able to network, interact, and learn from students across disciplines, cultures, and backgrounds,” he said.

In addition, in April 2018, Opoola was a winner in the inaugural Student Research Competition organized by the Division of Research and Innovation (R&I). He also presented his research on sustainability reporting and sustainable development at the 2018 Pathways Research Symposium at West Texas A&M University and during the spring 2019 Three Minutes Thesis (3MT) competition. Lastly, he was a member of the second-place team, Elite Innovation, that worked on a smart water bottle for elderly citizens at the Invent for the Planet global competition sponsored by R&I in February 2019.  

Perhaps the most difficult challenge an international student can face is paying for the cost of tuition and fees as well as living expenses. Given the difficult economic conditions in Nigeria, Opoola said he sought out every opportunity to apply for scholarships. As a result, he received the President‘s International Excellence Scholarship Award in fall 2018 and spring 2019 and the Morris L. Lichtenstein, Jr. Graduate Scholarship in summer 2018. 

During his time as an Islander, Opoola worked closely with his mentor, Dr. Donald Deis, Endowed Chair and Regents Professor of Accounting, on his research proposal for the Student Research Competition. Opoola credits Deis for providing guidance at every opportunity.

“We have a lot of good students in the Master of Accountancy program, but I would say Jamiu is right there at the top,” Deis said. “In addition, Jamiu has been very engaged in the community; he was one of maybe 50 students who worked in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. He was a leader in that program, and we processed thousands of returns that brought in over a million dollars’ worth of refunds for low-income and elderly taxpayers. I hope he will continue to put that kind of energy into community involvement.”

Opoola also made a favorable impression in a federal taxation class taught by Ginger DeLatte, Professional Assistant Professor of Accounting.   

“Jamiu was an amazing student to have – he was one of the only graduate students in a class of mostly undergraduates, and he was a great example of what hard work and dedication can do,” DeLatte said.

Following graduation, Opoola plans to sit for the Texas Certified Public Accountants (CPA) examination, and he is also looking at Ph.D. programs in accounting. His long-range goal is to become an accounting professor and he eventually hopes to improve the Nigerian tax system. 

“The Island University has provided me with so many opportunities, such that I have never had before, that have supported my academic accomplishments,” Opoola said. “Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has wonderful professors whose focus is on ensuring that students have the necessary skills to achieve their career goals.”

Opoola also credits the Island University’s student-centered resources with helping him excel in the classroom.

“One amazing thing about our Mary and Jeff Bell Library is the interlibrary loan service and the ease of accessing study materials online, especially journal articles, at no cost to students,” he said. “Also, our Career Services has amazing employees who have helped me understand how I can put my skills and knowledge together to secure my desired job. In sum, A&M-Corpus Christi has prepared me for the journey ahead.”

Additional Information

As an Islander, Jamiu Opoola has served as a:

  • Graduate Senator in the Student Government Association
  • International Student Organization representative at the University Council of Student Organizations
  • Member of the Student Accounting Society
  • Student member of Texas Society of CPAs
  • Volunteer with the Student Volunteer Connection
  • Tax return preparer in Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program
  • Attended the Day at the Capitol trip in March, which gave him an opportunity to meet area legislators and see the Texas Legislature in action
  • Opoola has also represented the College of Business on three occasions in which he was the sole A&M-Corpus Christi business student to participate