Joel Adese ’22: Driven to Bring Change Home to Nigeria

Meet Joel Adese, one of the students from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, who inspired record giving at the college’s 2022 Scholarship Ball. He exemplifies the college’s mission of community, faith and scholarship. He is a basketball player, a convert to the Catholic faith, and a senior double major in political science and accounting. He wants to get a law degree, then return to help the political situation in his native Nigeria.

He graduated cum laude in Accounting and Political Science on May 14. See the video about Joel, followed by a transcript below.


Growing up, I played soccer. Soccer was the sport back home in Nigeria. Everybody played soccer. One day I walking home from school and this basketball coach saw me and he said, “Wow, you’re very tall. Why don’t you come check out this sport — it’s called basketball.”

I had never heard of it before. I was kind of hesitant at first.

Two weeks later, I went and he said, “All right, take off your slippers and we’ll show you how this is done.” And I started doing the basics of basketball with my bare feet. And that was how I started playing basketball. Before you know it I was here in the U.S. playing basketball.

My name is Joel Adese. I am a senior majoring in political science and accounting.

I grew up in a village with my grandparents in Nigeria, then I moved to the city with my mom. I lost my dad when I was a very tender age so I didn’t get to quite know him very well. My mom is very strict. She actually laid the foundation, you know, how I should be as a man, so that really was how I grew up and that has helped in the long run coming here to the U.S. for high school and also college.

I’m the first child in my family so I want to really set the bar high, especially for my younger brothers. They really motivate me as well to keep on going.

Even when i was coming to the U.S. my mom was really focused on my academics. She said, “To go the U.S. I want you to study hard. You want to go to law school, study hard,” and all of that. The game was just kind of like a secondary option. So when I came to high school here in a Catholic school my mum really was wanting me to go.

She said, “Yeah, this would be good for you. Let’s just give it a shot.”

I got taught you know the basics of the religion and it spoke to me. I was old enough — I was 18 at that time. So I made the choice to become Catholic and I got baptized and that has really helped a lot in transitioning to Benedictine College for sure.”

I was able to be noticed by Coach Moody, the basketball coach here at school. It was easy for me to choose Benedictine. The fact that it’s a Catholic school, that was almost a given. Just the fact that it’s a Catholic school, that was almost a given. Just the environment the people you talk to outside the locker room, it’s a constant reminder not to forget your faith.

So I go to Benedictine ultimately to study political science and gear my career towards a law school. Basketball helped propel that. Even my coach sometimes thinks I’m a little crazy. I play basketball, I double major, I take on heavy hours. I look at it from the perspective of the classes. It’s seven classes, and I think I can handle that. For me, it’s doable.

With the law degree I really would like to apply that back home. The political situation in my country isn’t the best. I want to go back home and do the best I can, just do the best I can going forward.

I’m scared in a good way. It’s kind of overwhelming to think of, but I’m at the same time really optimistic because knowing my background and how I’ve been brought up. I know I can do it. I know I can get to that goal moving from one country to another. It’s just a bump in the way. The goal is always there, but you just have to cross a few hurdles to get there. I can see the goal. I can see the end of it so just having that goal is what really motivates me and also those people who have helped me along the way. I don’t want to let them down so that also motivates me to keep on pushing.