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Adedeji and Isiwatu Badiru International Student Scholarship recognizes Tennessee Tech as caring and supportive campus community for international students 

Desi and Iswat at Tech Village in 1977 and at a recent gathering.

Dr. Adedeji “Deji” Badiru, `79 industrial engineering, `81 M.S. and `82 M.S., and Isiwatu “Iswat” Badiru, `83 human ecology, say they are forever grateful for the opportunity to study as international students at Tennessee Tech. Now, they hope to provide opportunities for future international students through the Adedeji and Isiwatu Badiru International Student Scholarship Endowment.

“The depth and breadth of education that we received at Tech could not have happened anywhere else,” they said. “Tech paved the way for our personal growth, career advancement and professional accomplishments. The Tech faculty who figuratively adopted us during our studies have continued to be our close friends and supporters.”

The Badirus came to Tech from Nigeria in 1976. Deji wanted to study engineering and chose Tech because it matched his desire to attend a technological university.

The Badirus say some of their fondest memories are the professors who became like family members.

“Dr. Carroll Viera (then Dr. Carroll Miller) and Dr. Sid Gilbreath, both now retired, were the two Tennessee Tech professors who took us in as mentees,” Deji said. “They are still engaged in supporting us today.”

Deji says he knew international students who enrolled at larger universities, but he believes Tech’s size and focus make it a better fit.

“The small school, small town and close-knit environment of Tennessee Tech was perfect for a focused attention to our education,” he said. “Many international students who came around the same time got distracted and derailed by transferring to big-city schools. At Tech, we got all the attention we needed from professors and administrators. The international student advisor, Joanne Clarke, was instrumental in helping me with the immigration paperwork required to get my wife a visa to come and join me at Tech. We are forever grateful for her kindness, support and mentoring during that uncertain process. I don’t think I could have received such support from a big school at that time.”

The Badirus both worked in Tech’s cafeteria to help pay their college expenses, and Deji also worked at Tech’s physical plant during summer breaks.

“Not only did I gain a monetary income from the opportunity, but I also learned rudimentary maintenance skills that are still serving me well today,” he said. “For example, it was during my work with Tech’s physical plant that I overcame my fear of heights, as I had to climb tall ladders to retouch and repaint the white trim on many campus buildings, including Derryberry Hall. I still proudly claim today that my handiwork of applying white paint to Derryberry is there under the decades-long layers of white paint on the building’s exterior.”

The Badirus say their first jobs on campus were important in establishing an employment record for U.S. social security. Today, Deji is dean and senior academic officer for the Graduate School of Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology, and Iswat is a consultant with ABICS, a consulting, training and publishing partnership. The couple also authored a series of cookbooks featuring Nigerian recipes.

The Adedeji and Isiwatu Badiru International Student Scholarship is just the latest in a long history of support. The Badirus have given to Tech for nearly 40 years and previously established the Sid and Pat Gilbreath Appreciation Scholarship Endowment and the Carroll Viera Appreciation Scholarship Endowment to honor the faculty members who played such an important role in their Tech experience.

“We remember what Tennessee Tech meant to us,” Deji said. “Tech has been dedicated to us. We feel a sense of responsibility to be equally dedicated to Tech.”

Charlie Wilkerson, director of international recruitment and admission at Tech, says scholarships are a difference-maker for many international students.

“The international programs office appreciates all gifts from our wonderful international alumni,” Wilkerson said. “These gifts make a huge impact on our international students who often struggle with the cost of Tech’s out-of-state tuition.”

The Adedeji and Isiwatu Badiru International Student Scholarship is open to any international student considering Tech.

The Badirus encourage international students to remember how Tech helped shape their life and find ways to support future generations.

“By paying it forward, the reputation of Tennessee Tech will continue to grow, and the institution will continue to make a difference in changing the world in a positive way.”

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