EPIC Spotlight: Stephen O. Kayode-Owoyele

“I would encourage people of ethnic backgrounds to seriously consider this school.”

The trip to India is still fresh on Stephen O. Kayode-Owoyele’s mind.

There were visits to businesses and people’s homes. Stephen and other University of Arkansas students roamed the markets and bazaars. They visited a wild game reserve and met children in an orphanage “who entertained us as much as we entertained them,” Stephen says.

The most surprising thing? Seeing the wealthy and impoverished live side-by-side. And getting along.

Stephen, a graduate student at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, visited India over Christmas break in a business seminar as part of the university’s Study Abroad program.

“The experience was very enriching and educational,” he says. “I would say it’s the highlight of my education at this point.”

Stephen, born in Nigeria, has seen much of the world already. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in computer science with a minor in economics at Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, he lived and worked in his native country for Accenture, a global management technology consulting firm, where he was an Information Security Consultant before moving to England briefly. After that, he moved to the United States and has worked at information security management jobs in New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Chicago.

Then it was off to Bentonville. Since 2009, Stephen has worked with Verizon Consulting Services’ Walmart account. There, he manages the relationship, sales and delivery of all contracted professional security services to Walmart stores.

Stephen says that when he decided to further his education, he researched colleges online. Walton College was on his list. “It’s the most reputable in the area,” he says of the college. “That was a good sell to me.”

He made an appointment to visit and was pleased with what he saw. “It’s a very cool campus,” he says. “It’s very well structured. It’s bustling with activities.”

He enrolled in the Managerial Master of Business Administration program, which is designed for working professionals like Stephen. Through online learning and attending class one Saturday a month, master’s degrees are typically earned in two years.

Stephen says his classes include people from many cultures and who hold many different opinions. This only increases the value of his education, he says.

“I would encourage people of ethnic backgrounds to seriously consider this school,” he says. “It’s increasing in diversity immensely.”

Combined with his bachelor’s degree and certification as an Information Systems Security Professional, this added knowledge will benefit his workplace, he says.

“It’s going to be more valuable to my employer and our clients,” he says.

Though Stephen has lived in major metropolitan areas, he says Northwest Arkansas stands out because of one thing in particular. “It’s the best place I’ve ever lived,” he says, adding that he finds the area calm and serene.

Back home in Nigeria, he says his mother has a long history in business. She operates a shop similar to America’s convenience stores. His father is retired and worked for an aluminum company.

Stephen says his move to the United States has been closely watched by his younger brothers and sister and that it gives them something to aim for.

“It’s inspirational for them,” he says.