No Challenge Has Proved Insurmountable for ‘Chief O’
Biola University Campus Safety Chief John Ojeisekhoba has overcome tremendous adversity to become one of the most accomplished people in his profession and the winner of the CS Director of the Year Award.
John Ojeisekhoba has many reasons to smile.
As chief of Biola University’s Campus Safety Department, Ojeisekhoba has lowered crime rates, improved his department’s organization and strengthened his department’s relationship with the university community.
All of these accomplishments make him a successful chief, but what truly makes him worthy of Campus Safety’s Director of the Year honor is his inclination to go above and beyond the call of duty to help the Biola community.
Throughout his time at the school (and it’s been a long time, encompassing nearly 15 years) Ojeisekhoba has demonstrated a dedication to the people around him and an unrelenting passion to help the university.
“John has a heart for service,” Deputy Chief of Campus Safety Randy Richardson says. “His desire to serve his community and the personnel under him is what impacts us the most.”
Ojeisekhoba’s compassion is best described through the countless acts of kindness his colleagues have witnessed. He’s done little things like memorizing birthdays and helping an officer move homes. He’s also done more impactful things like supporting an officer through a bout with cancer. In one instance, a transfer student came to Ojeisekhoba desperate for a job. There were no positions open at the time, so Ojeisekhoba simply walked to the nearest ATM, took out some money and handed it to the student.
But to truly understand John Ojeisekhoba, it’s necessary to know where he came from. Raised in a Nigerian village, Ojeisekhoba’s only path to the United States was through his long-jumping abilities. It was a fitting ticket out of Africa for someone who’s been hurdling obstacles his whole life.
The Ojeisekhoba Profile:
Name: John Ojeisekhoba is the chief of the Campus Safety Department at Biola University. He has been chief for six years and has been with Biola University since enrolling as a student in 1995. Prior to working for the Campus Safety Department, Ojeisekhoba held a series of student positions at the university to pay his way through Biola’s undergrad and graduate schools. Ojeisekhoba is also a reserve police officer for the City of Garden Grove Police Department and a graduate for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Module III Academy and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Module II Academy. In addition, Ojeisekhoba sits as the Co-Chair for the City of La Mirada Disaster Steering Committee.
Institution: Biola University is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal arts university located in La Mirada, Calif. Biola’s 95-acre campus features more than 1 million square feet of building space in 40 major buildings. The university’s six schools enroll more than 6,300 students.
Department: Biola University has 18 officers in its Campus Safety Department with official peace officer powers of arrest. Ninety-five percent of the department’s officers are armed. The department also has 68 additional employees besides officers. The department’s mission is divided into three categories: crime prevention, customer based services and emergency planning.
The Road to America Featured Many Obstacles
One of 19 children, Ojeisekhoba learned that nothing would be handed to him early in life. A typical day started at 5 a.m. for the chief and his brothers, when their father would wake them up and take them to a farm to work on crops. Two hours later, it was time for school. Five days a week Ojeisekhoba and his siblings would make the two mile walk in blistering heat to class. Work started for children in the village as early as five years old.
Ojeisekhoba’s father was a local police chief, a position that traditionally brings vast wealth because it is customary for people in public office to embezzle large sums of money. Ojeisekhoba’s large family, however, was raised in a small house because his father refused to follow in his coworker’s corrupt footsteps. At the time Ojeisekhoba admits he resented his father for his decision, but the chief’s modest upbringing taught him the value of integrity. It’s a lesson Ojeisekhoba carries with him to this day.
Around age 13, Ojeisekhoba began competing in track and field, quickly realizing he had a talent for it.
“I saw track and field as a way to a better life,” he remembers. “My goal right away was to make it to the U.S.”
After years of training, Ojeisekhoba began competing in national events and soon was offered the opportunity to represent his country in international meets as a long jumper. It was then, in 1990, that he received a scholarship from a small Christian school in California by the name of Biola University.
Ojeisekhoba was overwhelmed with joy to hear from an American school, but he needed a visa to leave Nigeria. After filling out the necessary paperwork he anxiously entered the American embassy and submitted his request. Ojeisekhoba was denied his visa. A year later, Biola renewed their offer and again Ojeisekhoba applied for a scholarship. Again he was denied. The process repeated itself in 1992 and again in 1993. “By then my hope of coming to America had pretty much died completely,” Ojeisekhoba says.
Then in the summer of 1993 he was granted a temporary diplomatic visa, which couldn’t be denied, to represent his country in an international competition in Buffalo, N.Y. He remembers wanting to kiss the ground when he landed in JFK airport.
“They gave [the Nigerian team] a college dorm room in Buffalo. We thought it was a five star hotel,” Ojeisekhoba jokes.
The team had never seen so many fancy cars or, more significantly, so much food. When it came time to leave many refused.
“It was tempting to not go back, especially since I’d been trying for four years,” Ojeisekhoba recalls. “Ultimately, I was one of only six who returned to Nigeria, and I almost went into a depression. People were saying, ‘There’s the fool who came back.'”
A little more than a year after his Buffalo experience Ojeisekhoba received yet another scholarship from Biola. Still scarred from his previous denials, he went to the embassy expecting a similar result. This time, however, the immigration officer looked up from the application.
“Oh, you’re one of the athletes that came back!” the officer said. He approved the visa.
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