Esther Abisola Omole, ’21, discovered her passion for architecture as a child while roaming her grandfather’s neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria. She noticed how the design of buildings emphasized large gathering spaces, while statues and carvings marked the pillars and walls. Omole began to sketch her surroundings: red clay roads, green and bronze school gates, ornate churches and mosques. She also noticed the hindrances to daily life—so many potholes—and wondered: What if you combined the beauty of Nigeria’s traditional architecture with the attention to quality she associated with American infrastructure?

Omole was raised in Hollywood, Fla., but she considers the Mafoluku neighborhood in Nigeria her second home. The eldest of three siblings and one of more than 40 cousins, she says her close-knit family stressed to her the importance of responsibility and excellence. Her maternal grandmother would often place her hand on Omole’s head as she prayed to Allah, saying in Arabic, “You were built for greatness.”


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KOLUMN Magazine celebrates the lives of People of Color by giving our world texture.