“My grandfather was a community mediator in my hometown,” Adegbite Moore said. “He cared deeply for people; he was always fighting for justice and equality for people.”
Adegbite Moore, who was raised by her grandparents, Chief and Mrs. Sylvester Adebayo Akiboh, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria, credits them for her desire and passion to make a difference.
“Having grown up in Nigeria, I had never experienced racism before I came to Calvin. The first time you are made to feel that you are different is a sad experience,” she said.
Despite her initial disappointment, Adegbite Moore’s experience at Calvin was overwhelmingly positive because of her focus on education, she said.
“I believe I received an excellent education at Calvin, equivalent to that at any Ivy League school,” she said. “I wanted other black students to have the opportunity that I had, but for that to happen the social aspect needed to be enhanced. I wanted to work towards a community where the challenges of race and issues of inequality and prejudice are addressed.”
That prompted Adegbite Moore to help establish the Black Alumni Chapter (BAC) of Calvin College. She was on the initial planning committee that wrote the bylaws for this groundbreaking special interest alumni chapter. The chapter was officially established in 1995, with one of its purposes being to support current and prospective black Calvin College students, faculty and staff members through mentorships, partnerships and other forms of encouragement.
“The BAC broke new ground,” said alumni director Mike VanDenend. “The alumni association had never chartered a special interest chapter before, but Toyin and other black alums gave such thoughtful and determined rationale to the board. The BAC has been very important for Calvin and alumni.”
“After I graduated I continued to hear about similar experiences from students on the issues of racism and ignorance among blacks from the Diaspora,” Adegbite Moore said. “I became determined to help stop the ignorance, especially in a Christian environment. I know it’s a cliché, but ‘What would Jesus do?’ became so real to me.”
Since Adegbite Moore graduated almost 15 years ago, things have changed at Calvin. “There are a lot more black students now,” she said, “but I noticed the same division and prejudice between African-American and African students.”
Adegbite Moore was quick to support and help coordinate the annual Black Knights Formal. Initially a single dinner event initiated by students, the effort has developed into a student-run organization with a focus on bringing together and strengthening relationships between the African and African-American groups. She was instrumental in ensuring the involvement of black alumni.
While her job has recently taken her out of the Grand Rapids, Mich., area to Wilmington, Del., she continues as an ex-officio leader of the BAC. “Wherever I am in the country or the world, I’m going to work to see that this chapter stays alive and relevant,” she said.
In her current role as president and chief executive officer of Social Venture Partners Delaware, Adegbite Moore continues to seek justice. The mission of her organization is to ensure equitable access to quality care and education for all children in Delaware, especially those in underserved communities.
“I’m interested in social change, wherever that leads me,” she said.
Adegbite Moore is one of the youngest alumni to receive the Outstanding Service Award, which was established in 1967.
“It is a very humbling experience to receive this prestigious award,” she said. “In my mind it is usually given to older folks who have spent many more years in service.
“I would be remiss to not share this award with my colleagues and friends who have supported the efforts of the Black Alumni Chapter, and I accept this award first, in honor of my late aunt, Jacquelyn Nickerson, a Distinguished Alumna, who completed her education at Calvin during the most racially hostile time in the history of this country. The legacy of her grace, determination in the face of oppression and self dignity lives on.
“I also accept this award in honor of my late grandfather, who continues to teach all of us about justice and education through the legacy that he left.”
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