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"Before Graduate School"
A Biographical Sketch 
 
 

 

Born in Normal, Illinois in 1976, Mosi Adesina Ifatunji was the first child to both his parents. After living in Normal for the first four years of his life, his family moved to Maywood, Illinois where they would remain until Mosi was seven years old. After a divorce, his mother moved to Oak Park with Mosi - just ten minutes from his father who remained in Maywood. At ten years of age Mosi and his Mother moved to California where he would complete his primary education. During his junior year in high school Mosi was elected to both his school's student council and the City of Oakland's Youth Advisory Committee to the Mayor. In 1994 Mosi was initiated into the Yoruba priesthood of Orisha - i.e., Songo. At the age of eighteen, one month after high school graduation Mosi would move out of the home he shared with his mother, her husband and his step brother and move into his first apartment - only ten minutes away. After three years of working full-time and attending local community colleges - both full and part-time - he would move to Chicago, Illinois to build upon his, then fragile, relationship with his father and family, still living in the Midwest.

Mosi arrived in Chicago, five feet nine inches and weighing one hundred and forty pounds - a young man in his father's eyes. Upon his relocation to the Midwest, Mosi would begin to revisit his commitment to family and temple. While originally the only child, Mosi's father would remarry twice and bring four additional children into the world. As Mosi was the eldest, he, his family and tradition would hold him responsible for the development of his younger siblings. Since the three youngest siblings did not live in the father's house, Mosi and his younger brother of five years,Makinde Adedapo, would begin to re-develop their originally close relationship. As he was an initiated priest, Mosi also began to re-submerge himself into the culture of his ancestors and family. In June of 1998 he would be appointed to the Executive Board of Ile Ifa Jalumi - the temple that initiated him.

While working in the temple and with family, Mosi would be introduced by his father - a playwright, producer, director and professor of African American theatre - to the legendary Jazz & Java - a coffee house in the South Chicago Loop that catered to the neighborhood coffee drinkers, musicians, chess players and poets. Here Mosi would begin to hone his creative talents in the writing and performance of poetry. After approximately six months of open microphone performances, he would be invited to host the Wednesday night poetry event at Jazz & Java. It was this invitation that would spark his later involvement in the management of literary art organizations.

After family and spirit were mended, Mosi applied to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and was accepted. In the Fall of 1999 he declared his Major of Applied Psychology and Minor of African American Studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. In the following spring he would gain his first position as an academic. Mosi was employed by the university to work as a research assistant at the Institute on Disability and Human Development. Here he was assigned to the Advocacy and Empowerment for Minorities with Disabilities Program, working on a mentorship research project with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

 

     

At this point, his literary career was beginning to pick up steam. Mosi had been featured at a nightclub named, Some Like It Black: Coffee Club and Art Gallery in the South Chicago Loop. After his feature he would soon become co-host, host and finally the Director of Literary Arts for the fast growing Chicago nightspot.

Meanwhile he began to get involved in student life on campus with his membership to the Black Student Union at UIC. After being introduced to the political climate of the university, Mosi would seek other avenues of becoming more involved in the development of an African American community at UIC. In the Spring of 2000, he would join Mojos' Pen - i.e., the black literary guild on campus. Upon review of his dedicated work, Mosi gained membership to the executive boards of both student organizations in the fall of 2000. That following spring he would join the African Student Union (ASU) as a general member. During the spring of 2001 Mosi was elected Vice President of Mojos' Pen. With this appointment he implemented the beginning of a new action oriented spirit within the organization. This action-oriented spirit was the product of his involvement with the BSU, which had now grown from four members to over sixty.

In the same semester his academic career also received a boost. Mosi was selected to take part in the McNair Scholars Program. Based upon his balanced commitment to the community and the academy, this program would now offer him the opportunity to work with top flight research professors on their current research efforts, produce his own research studies, attend nation-wide conferences, and receive monetary awards. In addition, the program also qualified him for select graduate level fellowships within the university for witch he could attain upon completion of his undergraduate study.

After one year of participation in the McNair Scholars Program Mosi was identified as a program leader. At the end of his inaugural year, he'd completed three challenging research papers and become an inspiration to other students in the program in his attempt to combine theory driven and engaged research methodologies.

In the Fall of 2002 Mosi's efforts as president of Mojos' Pen quickly paid off. The once small crowd of ten to twenty spectators was expanded to one-hundred and the venue garnered rave reviews from the urban magazine, Rolling Out.

After successfully completeing one year as the Vice President of the BSU, he was elected Chairman of the organization. The Black Student Union is quite dynamic. Now, Mosi is overseeing a $50,000 operating budget, an African-Centered Saturday School and an inter-campus network of more than ten mid-west universities and colleges.

Last Updated: May 31, 2002

 
An interview with "UIC Student Stories": Mosi Ifatunji's UIC Story
Mosi Ifatunji. Assistant Professor. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill . Department of Sociology and Carolina Population Center. Telephone (919) 843-6466. Email:ifatunji@unc.edu. For the latest on race, ethnicity, migration and politics follow: @ifatunji .