TED & Talks

(Be)coming Professional | Lakeya Omogun | TEDxUTAustin

Are we letting go of our true selves and identities in the name of professionalism? Lakeya, a Ph.D. candidate in the Language and Literacy Studies Program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin, dives into why we need to reevaluate and redefine our idea of professionalism. She explores the concept of what it means to be professional and the limitations it imposes upon diverse ways of being. She draws on her own research and experiences at various stages of her life to encourage us to redefine professionalism along intersectional identity lines.
Lakeya Omogun is a Nigerian and African-American writer, scholar, and creative. Born in New York and raised in Detroit, her experiences between both cultures and cities equipped her to see the world through a nuanced lens. Since a young girl, she has been deeply committed to shifting static ideas in cultures, society, and institutions.

Currently, she is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Language and Literacy Studies Program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation research explores how Nigerian immigrant youth use language, literacy, and digital literacies to racially position themselves as well construct and negotiate their identities while living in the United States. Having experienced tensions with navigating aspects of her racial, ethnic, and professional identities, Lakeya advocates for showing up as our full selves across professional spaces. No shedding. No hiding. She believes that all parts of our identities deserve recognition and honor.

Lakeya also uses writing to shift static ideas. Her writing sits at the intersection of storytelling and scholarship, which includes creative nonfiction, narrative poetry, and scholarly articles. It has been featured in Zora Mag, Human Parts, and Random House Incorporated (RHI). In addition to researching and writing, Lakeya teaches undergraduate literacy methods courses in UT-Austin’s College of Education. Her teaching prepares undergraduates to attend to sociocultural factors (e.g., identity, race, class, gender, etc.) in their teaching and instruction. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, Lakeya taught elementary and middle school in three cities – Newark, Detroit, Newark, and Harlem. She carries the love and memories from her students in all that she does.

Outside of her professional roles, Lakeya loves to visit her favorite people and new places. She enjoys hitting the gym or going for a run. When she is not on the move, she is either trying a new recipe or slowly moving through a TV series. She likes to think that she has mastered anti-binge-watching shows. In fact, she considers it an art. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

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