|Written by Laura Braun, Columnist|
|Sunday, 12 October 2008 18:00|
Three years ago today, a young woman on the verge of graduation from ISU lost her life to a man who failed to see her importance in the lives of others. She had a lot of names that year, mostly along the lines of "missing ISU student." To me, however, she was just Ola.
Olamide Adeyooye and I met through our boyfriends. They were in a band together and as the resident girlfriends we were there to travel along to dilapidated venues and the occasional music festival to offer our encouragement and fend off any girl who was a little too enthusiastic. I first met her at a party where I was nervously sitting on a couch by myself trying desperately not to feel like the new girl. Ola just strutted up to me and said, "Hey, you're Sergio's girlfriend? I'm Olamide."
She was the first person to come up to me and offer a friendly smile. That was Ola for you. No matter where you were, she was always the nicest person in the room. She made it easy for me to meet new people, because you knew if they associated with her, they were probably good people too.
I know when someone dies other people tend to talk about them only focusing on the good, but I don't need to do that with Ola, because I honestly never experienced bad with her. She was so charismatic and charming that when she smiled, everyone smiled.
Ola was the type of girl who e-mailed you if she hadn't seen you in a while just to let you know she was thinking of you. She would organize get-togethers right down to who would be picking you up and when she wanted to talk to you, she'd call, not text. She was a brave and independent girl, but she always took care of her friends.
October 13, 2005 was the last time anyone would see Ola. No one could get in contact with her and soon enough someone filed a missing person report. Her car was gone, her TV was on and there was food in her microwave. We knew something was terribly wrong.
For nearly two long weeks, her friends and family rallied together putting up signs everywhere. Our phones rang incessantly with reporters and investigators.
The pictures I took the last time I saw her were on every major news network in the country. I remember flipping channels only to stumble across FOX News broadcasting a picture I had taken of us just a month earlier, back when we were just normal, nameless college students.
The entire campus was buzzing about Ola. It seemed that no matter where I was, there was no escaping the horrific details that surfaced each day of her disappearance. Every single moment of those days was heart-wrenching. In just two weeks, my life and my outlook was irreversibly altered.
Without rehashing every detail, I can tell you that Ola was killed in her apartment. The criminal responsible took her body and her car to Mississippi, but was later caught and is now spending his life in prison. His only motive was to get his name in the papers.
I was just 19 years old when Ola died and I've now exceeded the age at which she passed away, an injustice I think about often. She should be 24 years old now and settling into a career.
My goal in writing this is that you'll remember Olamide not as a name in the headlines, but as a wonderful and intelligent woman who lived each day as it came.
I have this fear of Ola's story becoming nothing more than campus folklore. People tend to forget that she was a real person with real friends and a real life.
How her life came to a close was merely the footnote on a long story and I know that she would not want to be associated with such negativity.
Rather than speculating about her death, I hope that you will consider the warmth she radiated and shared. She stood up for people she barely knew all the time and now it is up to us to stand up for her and make certain her memory remains unblemished.
Ola was robbed of a full life, and she loved life. In her honor, I've pursued everything I want to do. I've studied abroad and gone for jobs I never thought I could get. She taught me to take chances because you never know what's next.
To ensure that she hasn't died in vain, I'm trying to live for the both of us. I wish she could be by my side for it, but I'm learning to settle for an angel guiding me through it instead.