Meet a Roadrunner: Love of Reading Brings Houston Native to UTSA Libraries

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Lara Lawal

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(Nov. 27, 2013) -- Meet Omolara-Jara Lawal. The Houston native overcame significant obstacles before finding success at UTSA.

Lara was four years old when her mother died of leukemia. Soon after, her father sent her and her three brothers to live in Nigeria with an uncle and aunt. Her oldest brother stayed in Houston with her father.

"I don't think he was overburdened but I think it would have been a lot to take care of five kids," she says.

While in Nigeria, Lara learned to speak her father's native language, Yoruba, as well as some French. She also assimilated to the region's strict cultural norms.

"There is a lot of discipline in Nigeria," she says.

After skipping the fifth and sixth grades, Lara returned to Houston at age 10.

"I was teased a little," she says. "You know kids, when they see someone they're not used to seeing."

Lawal, though, found her own world in the library.

"I love to read," gushes the UTSA business finance major.

When she started at UTSA, she says she frequently visited the John Peace Library. When she saw the library had an opening for a peer coach — student workers trained to help other students with library-related inquires — she jumped at the opportunity.

Lara says her job is exciting and rewarding because students are always thankful for assistance. Tyler Dunn, a library assistant who supervises the peer coaches, said Lara is always very helpful to students.

"Lara's outgoing personality and leadership skills make her very effective at sharing her library know-how with other students," Dunn said.

Lawal said she enjoys helping others at the Libraries, and hopes to build on her skills by working for Teach for America after she graduates.

Lara says she misses her family very much, but she hopes she's made them proud.

"I know my dad always wants what is best for me," she said.

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Story Courtesy of Stephanie Sanchez and Alice Frederick, UTSA Libraries