When I Was Seventeen: Mr. Okpalugo
At the ripe age of seventeen, the widely-loved Mr. Okpalugo: current history teacher, basketball coach, Black Student Union advisor, among other things, was a junior at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. He was an international boarding student at Deerfield, with his family living in the United Kingdom at the time.
What kinds of sports and extracurricular activities did you do?
I played soccer, basketball, and track. I wrote for “The View,” a student journal on politics and current affairs. I was in the Black Student Union, worked as research assistant in biology teacher’s genetics lab – she did research on yeast and apoptosis (programmed cell death). I was also a Big Brother mentor to younger students.
What did you picture yourself doing as an adult? Did you ever picture yourself to be where you are today?
I thought I was going to be a doctor. I loved studying anatomy and physiology. I wanted to be a doctor for a professional sports team. I had no idea I would end up in academia.
What was the most regrettable thing you did while in high school?
I didn’t try and learn to play American football. I think I could’ve made a decent defensive end. I also didn’t stay as connected with family back in the UK as I should have.
What advice would you give to current Thacher students?
Find what you’re passionate about and try and make a career out of it. You’ll never “work” a day in your life. Start learning about how to invest in stock market and start investing. Even if it’s something small like $50-100. You’re never too young to start. Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be something you write in everyday, but try and reflect on your high school experience. You’d be surprised how quickly you forget certain details and experiences. And don’t forget to floss!