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Dedication to students, community earns kudos for ASU staffer

May 14, 2009

She is a world traveler who has lived in England and Nigeria. While working full-time for Arizona State University, she also teaches at Glendale Community College and participates in numerous campus and community service activities. She has spent countless hours engaged in genealogical research. For her contributions to ASU and the community, Darnell Morehand-Olufade has been named a 2009 TRiO Achiever by the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel (WESTOP). WESTOP’s membership includes college and university personnel from Arizona, Nevada, California, and Pacific islands.

Morehand-Olufade is a 1999 ASU graduate. As a widow with two sons, she earned her bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in ethnic studies through the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. During her pursuit of her degree at ASU’s West campus, Morehand-Olufade received services through the campus’s TRiO program. TRiO is a federally funded student support program that serves first-generation university students, those who are income-eligible, and students with documented disabilities.

“TRiO was a big help to me,” Morehand-Olufade says. “I had both a professor and a staff member mentoring me and keeping me on track. TRiO offered seminars with practical information; I especially remember the time management seminar, which helped me understand how much time I should devote to studying for my classes. It also was nice to simply have someone to talk to.”

The WESTOP TRiO Achiever Award recognizes former TRiO students who have completed their bachelor’s degrees (Morehand-Olufade has since earned a master’s degree) and entered a professional field and whose activities have served their communities with a focus on the improvement of society.

Morehand-Olufade started working at the West campus in 1998, while she was still a student. In 2001 she took a position with University Testing Services, where she now is program coordinator, senior at the West campus.

“We provide testing services to many community members as well as students,” Morehand-Olufade says. She administers myriad examinations, from college exams like ACT Residual, CLEP and GMAT to the Pharmacy College Admission Test, American Board of Optometry Exams, and others.

“Darnell brings many talents to the service of students on the West campus and other members of the Westside communities through her reliable and professional test administration services,” says Morehand-Olufade’s supervisor, Janet Krause, who is ASU’s associate director of university testing services. “She exhibits a genuine spirit of service, and we are very fortunate to have her in Testing Services on the West campus.”

Morehand-Olufade still maintains ties to the TRiO program. She has mentored TRiO students and also has hired them as student workers in University Testing Services.

“Darnell is ever grateful for the support she received as a student, and she takes advantage of every opportunity to refer students to the various support services available to them on campus,” says Sharon Smith, director of the TRiO Academic Achievement Center on the West campus, and a recent recipient of ASU’s Excellence in Diversity Award. Smith nominated Morehand-Olufade for the WESTOP TRiO Achiever Award.

Morehand-Olufade teaches African American history at Glendale Community College. At ASU’s West campus she served on the Classified Staff Council, is an advisor to the Black Student Union, and is a member of the Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committees.

She also is involved with the Phoenix chapter of the Black Family and Genealogy Historical Society. Morehand-Olufade’s specific interest relates to Black Indians. Among other projects, she has worked to trace the genealogy of the Choctaw freedmen, who were slaves of the Choctaw nation in the Southeastern United States and then moved to Oklahoma with the tribe 33 years before emancipation.

Morehand-Olufade, who was born in New York City, brings a worldwide perspective to her work. Her late husband, a university professor of entomology, was from Nigeria. The family lived there and in England for several years, as well as in U.S. states including California and Wisconsin. She moved to the West Valley in 1989, and as she watched the Kiva Lecture Hall being built on ASU’s West campus, she told one of her sons, “One day I’ll go to school there.”