Get to Know Mr. Ugochukwu “Ugo” Okolie

Ugochukwu “Ugo” Okolie joins Northwood as an instructor in the Science and Math Departments and as a coach for the Boys’ Soccer Team. Ugo grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and attended Mercersburg Academy for one year. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, with a degree in Biology. While there, he was an All-American player on the Varsity Men’s Soccer Team.

That was the brief description of new teacher Mr. Ugo Okolie on Northwood’s home page. The Mirror staff writer Olivia Paul ‘21 tried to get to know him a little better and filed this report.

Ugo Okolie

Mr. Ugochukwu “Ugo” Okolie (Photo: Mr. Michael Aldridge)

How did you first learn about Northwood? Why did you decide to come here? 

I’m hoping to go to med school in two years, and I wanted to work and make some money before I go. I got offers from two pharmaceutical companies–one in Pennsylvania and one in Illinois. But I wanted to be around soccer because I played it my whole life and soccer is a big part of my identity.

Also, one of my best friends was Jon Moodey [Northwood’s Program Director of Boys’ Soccer]’s player at Berkshire, and he introduced me to Moodey. Moodey suggested that I become a soccer coach and a math and bio teacher here. I want to be a pediatric surgeon later in life, so I liked the idea that I could be around kids. I got a couple of offers from other schools, but I was more drawn to Northwood because I had heard a lot of good things about the school.

I felt that Northwood was the best way to both be around soccer and teach kids.

When you first got here, what was your first impression of Northwood? Has it changed?

One thing that hasn’t changed yet is the cold. When I first got here, I freaked out a little bit because it should never be this cold in the summer. My room was really cold.

Everyone was also very very nice. I had no furniture in my room, so I got a ton of them from faculty who helped me settle in. People have been very welcoming since I got here, and that hasn’t changed. It’s been a great experience so far, I would say. It’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

How is Northwood similar or different from the schools you attended?

Before coming to the United States, I expected a view of New York City, just like what you see in movies. My school was definitely in the middle of nowhere, so when I first came to the United States, I experienced culture shock. I also had a thicker accent when I got here, so it was hard for people to understand me. Some people called me by my last name, Okolie, which was not what I wanted people to call me but was the easiest name they could actually pronounce. The accent was a barrier for me but over time at my high school, Mercersburg Academy, the community brought me together and I became a lot more outgoing, confident and outspoken I would say.

What are your hopes for the year? What do you want to get out of this year? 

I want to be a better teacher overall. This is my first time teaching, so I want to have a positive influence on my kids. Even if it means not going through every topic but the kids are understanding what we have gone through — that gives me more satisfaction than going through things and leaving kids struggling. I know when I was in high school I definitely did not like to be in that position. I put myself in all of the kids’ shoes and I just hope I will be an effective teacher and get better at teaching because it is my first year so I’m definitely still new to this. I hope I have an affect on the kids’ lives here on and off the field and become a role model here, because everyone needs a role model. I had a role model from my high school and I look up to him and still talk to him today. I just hope to have a good year in soccer and I hope that the kids grasp what’s being taught in my classes.

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