Emerging Leaders of Simi Valley Program host their first meeting of 2021 featuring Moorpark College Interim President Julius Sonkenu


Julius Sokenu, acting president of Moorpark College, addresses the graduating Class of 2019 during Moorpark’s 52nd Commencement Ceremony, held on Friday, May 17, 2019. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

By Karla Vazquez

On Jan. 21, 2021, Emerging Leaders of Simi Valley Community Connections Program, welcomed Dr. Julius Sokenu, Interim President of Moorpark College. Dr. Sokenu was the first guest to speak on the first Community Connections virtual discussion of 2021.

The Emerging Leaders of Simi Valley Community Connections Program is dedicated to provide networking events and connections that support as well as benefit young professionals in the community. Young professionals have access to educational workshops, an opportunity to get involved in the community and ask questions to leaders.

Ryan Valencia, chairman of Emerging Leaders, hosted the first meeting of 2021 and explained more about the program.

“This is going to be the program to join for the next few years. This is going to be kind of your new inner circle of emerging leaders that you should join up with and is a great opportunity for those who are between the ages of 21 and 40,” Valencia explained.

Interim President of Moorpark College is the first guest speaker of the virtual discussion of the Emerging Leaders program of 2021.
Interim President of Moorpark College is the first guest speaker of the virtual discussion of the Emerging Leaders program of 2021. Photo credit: Karla Vazquez

During the virtual discussion Dr. Sokenu shared his story and experiences on how a positive mindset can help create success in our own career.

Dr. Sokenu has been interim president of Moorpark College for 14 years. Prior to his current assignment he was Vice President of Academic Affairs. He was also Executive Vice President and before that Dean of Student Learning.

Dr. Julius Sokenu talked about his commitment for student access and success.

“One of the joys of one’s life, at least of my life, is the opportunity to share knowledge and expertise with others,” Dr. Sokenu said. “I think that is really key as we go through life that we find some purpose to why we exist.”

In presentation Dr. Sokenu shared some of his own personal history to give an insight in how personal history informs his personal trajectory. Then he talked about what motivates him and how motivation is key to success and lessons learned.

“None of what I am doing right now is what I envisioned when I was 17 or 18 years old. None of what I am doing right now is actually what I envisioned when I graduated college,” Dr. Sokenu said. “Be open to the possibilities I guess is the message here.”

Dr. Sokenu grew up in Nigeria but was born in Britain. He was raised by his grandparents. He grew up in Nigeria as the first generation of folks post independence from Britain. His parents were born when Nigeria was still part of Britain.

“I was sort of that first generation of individuals who were seen as the future of the country,” Dr. Sokenu explained. “I grew up with this idea that I come from a generation that needed to do something spectacular.”

Dr. Sokenu migrated to the United States as a foreign exchange student who didn’t come with a lot of money, and was fortunate to get an academic scholarship.

“The desire to have more of a connection to a global community was really key to motivate me to want to leave the country,” Dr. Sokenu explained.

The virtual discussion concluded with members of the community asking Dr. Sokenu questions.

Vanessa Jacuinde, a member of the community, asked a question regarding the effects of the pandemic on college students.

“I was curious if your approach to mentorship and support for students has changed or shifted given the current pandemic and the emotional toll it’s taken on everyone,” Jacuinde asked.

Dr. Sokenu answered by explaining what the pandemic has created and made us more aware of.

“A lot of our students are struggling and for us to acknowledge their needs it is incredibly important, so what we have done as a college is to make sure that we are building networks for success,” Dr. Sokenu answered.

To learn more or to be part of Emerging Leaders of Simi Valley please visit simivalleychamber.org