Community Connectors: Ladun Olateru-Olagbegi
Community Connectors is a monthly series highlighting Ohio State staff members who have shown leadership in partnering with our communities to make an impact. Photo: Ladun Olateru-Olagbegi (left) with a team from the College of Nursing at the 2019 East High School Career Fair.
Ladun Olateru-Olagbegi, MPH
Community Outreach and Engagement Program Assistant
College of Nursing
Our office works to connect faculty, staff, and student organizations in the College of Nursing with community partners such as community agencies, professional organizations, health care providers and schools. We also make it a point to focus on providing members of the college with project development skills and tools, financial assistance and support future and active community focused projects. Essentially my role is to be a resource, both for those in the community seeking to improve the health and well being of its members, and for members of our college seeking to meet the health needs of community members.
Why is engaging the community important to you and your work?
I believe the overall goal of my work is to help improve the health of the community. However, for me to do this I need to know what the community needs, and the only way to do this is by asking its members. To build trust in the community, we as a university and health care system need to keep showing up to ask, listen and do.
The more we in the health field go into the community, the more familiar our presence becomes, which could mean more open communication between both. Why should we expect people to show up to our offices or hospitals, if we dont show up to their neighborhoods? At the end of the day if there is no community, there's no Ohio State.
What lessons have you learned from the community that have helped you as a university staff member?
Before I came to Ohio State, I was the director of a childcare center on the westside of Columbus. Part of my role in the position was to provide resources in the community that could be useful to parents and families. The experience showed me various barriers parents face while trying to provide proper care for their children and household. I pull from that experience in my work now when brainstorming goals and ideas for our office for each year.
What has been your favorite moment from your community-engagement work?
I'm a people person so my favorite part of work is meeting new people and learning about their lives and journeys. Some of the connections I've made have happened just by listening and mentally storing information until I'm able to share it with the right person.
What advice do you have for other staff members who are interested in getting involved in community engagement?
Stay curious! Get out and talk to people both in the field and in the community. Ask questions to understand and actively listen to the responses you receive. Recently, Ive started making a conscious effort to let people speak without interrupting (it's harder than you think!) What I'm discovering is it seems most people just want a chance to be heard without interruption or judgment. If you're able to do this, they often will give you the same opportunity - and that's where understanding and partnerships begin.