“Take ownership in your education” is the first pillar in Dr. Oriaku’s five keys to success, which she shares every semester with business school students at Elizabeth City State University.
Also on the list? Have an open mind, be willing to take advice, and learn a foreign language.
That last point might seem a stretch at a small regional campus, but Dr. Oriaku is a deep believer in a global perspective. As she points out to her students in northeastern North Carolina, the world is now connected in ways hard to imagine for their parents and grandparents.
In more than two decades at Elizabeth City, Dr. Oriaku has studied business practices across the world, giving her classes a comparative perspective that helps students view the business world through a wider lens.
She complements that worldwide view with outreach work close to home. She has been a part of ECSU’s effort to teach “soft skills” to local high school students to prepare them for the business world or academia through effective communication, teamwork and flexibility in the face of unexpected challenges.
The four-week program has worked with hundreds of high school juniors and seniors. One of her groups has sponsored “Dress for Success” workshops to help students learn business attire and etiquette, as well as a short course for college students on how to use credit cards responsibly.1
It’s part of what made Dr. Oriaku a recipient of a 2016 UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.2
She is also a strong proponent of experiential learning through internships, and she has worked tirelessly to help place business school students in small businesses, banks and nonprofit organizations. That direct involvement, along with service projects on and off campus, can make the difference in a job search.
“This helps to build leadership skills and it looks good on a resume when you are looking for a job,” she told an interviewer.3
All of that fits a teaching philosophy that emphasizes creativity and hands-on experience.
Dr. Oriaku was an early adopter of wireless technology in the classroom to facilitate research and group meetings, recognizing that online interaction would become increasingly important in business. And she has been a leader at Elizabeth City State in championing technology-enhanced teaching, with online lectures and discussion boards supplementing class sessions.