Ojeokun is a graduate student completing her master’s degree at Kansas State University
Lawrence, Kan. (Oct. 31, 2023) – Olayemi Ojeokun, graduate student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan., has been named the winner of the Larry Powell Scholarship from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). Ojeokun will be formally recognized at the 2024 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show during the GCSAA Foundation Donors and Grassroots Ambassadors Reception on Jan. 31 in Phoenix.
The Larry Powell Scholarship was established in 2022 and named in honor of Larry Powell, a 49-year GCSAA member and golf course superintendent at Clearview Golf Course in Canton, Ohio. The scholarship focuses on individuals from underserved populations who are GCSAA members or interested in becoming a member. Scholarship preference is given to needs-based applicants with consideration for leadership skills and community engagement.
Powell’s father, Bill Powell, was an entrepreneur and pioneering golf course owner who opened Clearview Golf Club in Canton in 1948.
The integrated course was the first and only course to be designed, constructed and owned by an African American. Bill was a member of GCSAA for 37 years prior to his death in 2009. Bill and Larry were the first African American father-son members in GCSAA history. The Powell Family, which includes Larry’s sister, Renee, who was the second African American player in LPGA history, was awarded GCSAA’s Old Tom Morris Award in 2019.
“I am so excited to be the recipient of the Larry Powell Scholarship. It holds immense significance to me as it signifies the belief and investment in my potential as an African and as a woman in turf. I hope someday there will be more black women in the turf and golf industry,” Olayemi Ojeokun, one-year GCSAA member, said.
This scholarship will go a long way in financing Ojeokun’s living costs at Kansas State and will continue to be a driving force for her dedication to the golf industry. She is deeply passionate about golf course management and has developed an ardent desire to contribute to the maintenance and improvement of golf courses and the turfgrasses used on courses.
Ojeokun received her bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Osun State University in Osun, Nigeria, in June 2021, and she is a graduate student on track to receive her master’s degree in horticulture science from Kansas State in December 2024.
In her home country of Nigeria, she served as a member of the National Youth Service Corps while also holding positions of welfare officer, student laboratory assistant and graduate research assistant at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria.
From September to December 2022, Ojeokun was as a golf course intern at IITA. From May 2021 to January 2023, she completed an internship as coordinator at The Waste Museum in Moniya, Nigeria, while also becoming a founding board member of the Pan African Research Group (PARG). Ojeokun is still involved in PARG, in the Food and Agricultural Technology Unit, as a scientific researcher, deputy head of department and the lead publicist.
Outside of her coursework and PARG involvement, Ojeokun gives back to the community through volunteering and is involved in a variety of extracurricular activities at Kansas State. All of these experiences have ignited her passion to strive for knowledge and understanding to create positive change in the golf course management industry and the world.
“I have been to over 20 high schools, enlightening students on ways to become eco-ambassadors and how to manage the environment sustainably,” Ojeokun said. “This has promoted unity, love and communication among students and teachers. It also encourages students to be involved in agricultural activities.”
Another source of motivation for Ojeokun is Jack Fry, Ph.D., professor and turfgrass Extension specialist at Kansas State University (and winner of GCSAA’s 2022 Outstanding Contribution Award). Through his dedication to teaching and mentoring students, Fry has inspired Ojeokun to further develop her willingness to take on new challenges, diligently improve her work and push the boundaries of what is impossible in the field of turfgrass science.
“A big thank-you to Mr. Larry Powell, GCSAA and the Larry Powell Scholarship sponsors and donors,” Ojeokun said. “And lastly, a special thank-you to my advisor, Dr. Jack Fry, for always pushing me to do many great things in the golf industry.”