By Robert W. Dalton
When her Fulbright Fellowship was postponed and then canceled because of COVID-19, Nneka Mogbo ’20 mourned and moved on.
Then, as quickly as it was taken away, the opportunity reappeared. Mogbo departed for Algeria in October, where she is serving as an English teaching assistant.
“I got a call in February that it was back on,” says Mogbo. “It was really bittersweet. While I was excited, I was also concerned that I’m not the same person I was when I was a fresh graduate.”
Mogbo learned in the spring of 2020 that she had been selected for the fellowship. Just days later, with the pandemic starting to shut down the world, she was told it was on hold.
After graduating, she returned to her home in Atlanta to work with the Georgia Legal Services Program and await word on when she would begin her fellowship. After being told the fellowship was canceled, she went to Mexico in April 2021 to clear her head and begin focusing on her future.
She returned to Spartanburg in June 2021 to focus on growing her business, Úrú Music Collective. Úrú — which means benefit in Igbo, the language spoken in her parents’ native Nigeria — is a talent management, publishing and recording company for artists from Africa and the Middle East
“I was burned out from the pandemic, and I wanted to be in a place that felt like home,” she says. “I wanted to be in the place that built the foundation for what I do now, and that’s Spartanburg and Wofford.”
During her 10-month Fulbright fellowship, Mogbo will work with undergraduate and graduate students. She says she’s looking forward to observing the ways students process the language and cultural lessons.
Mogbo says while she was disappointed by the delay, she believes it was for the best.
“If it hadn’t happened this way, I’m not sure I would have become the person I am now,” she says.
Dr. Ramón Galiñanes Jr., director of undergraduate research and post-graduate fellowships, says Mogbo will make the most of the opportunity.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Nneka is finally getting the opportunity to teach and study in Algeria as a Fulbright,” he says. “She is an exceptional bridge builder and scholar and an even more exceptional person who will continue to do a lot of good in the world.”
When the fellowship is over, Mogbo plans to renew her focus on Úrú. She also plans to return to Nigeria, where she spent holidays as a young child, and work on building the infrastructure to support copyright and intellectual property laws.
“For what I want to do, and for what’s best for Úrú, that’s where I need to be,” she says.