Esther. You know her as the girl who walks around campus in that signature hat with headphones around her neck. As the girl who will never hesitate to tell you to, “Get outta here.” And as the ever-smiling presence around campus. But how much do you really know about Esther Okoro?
Esther grew up in Cheverly, Maryland, a “nice, quiet little place. The best part about Maryland was this chicken from Giant Food.” Although she loved the chicken, Esther’s family would move to Pennsylvania while she was in high school where she attended a technical school for art. Esther was happy in Pennsylvania until she moved to New York City, about which her feelings are very clear. “I hate it! You know those shirts that say ‘I love NY?’ If there was an ‘I hate NY’ shirt, I’d buy it! There isn’t a lot of air in the city, and you meet people who you don’t want to meet.” The silver lining of New York City was that Esther was able to attend Cooper Union, a prestigious art university with free programs on Saturdays, where Esther was able to perfect her painting skills to get an art scholarship to Graceland University.
“I decided to go to Graceland because I had an art scholarship, and because it was away from the city.” She came to Lamoni to get away from New York, but Esther has made Graceland her home. “My favorite part about Graceland is the people. It’s like a community and everyone is nice.” Esther spends her time at Graceland drawing, making comics, and watching foreign dramas. Often found in the library, Esther spends a lot of time working hard to keep up good grades. She’s become a familiar and friendly face in the commons where she works for Sodexo. She also reads a lot of manga and watches anime. Though, to be clear, “I’m not one of those people who worships anime, like those guys at Cosplay!” Esther says anime influences her art style, especially in her comics.
During school, Esther misses her family back on the East Coast. Her mom is a pastor and author who writes articles and books. Her dad works for the government in Washington, D.C. Both of her parents were born in Nigeria! Her older sister, who is studying to be a doctor, just graduated and is on her way to medical school. Her younger sister will also graduate this year, from high school, though Esther says she won’t come to Graceland. “My mom wants her to stay close, since my other sister and I left home.” Her younger brother, who will be thirteen this year, is also good at art. “I have an artistic family,” Esther says.
One constant throughout Esther’s life has been art. “Art is a way of life,” Esther says. “It’s always been there for me ever since I was a kid. I haven’t always been a people-person, and art was a friend that could help me express myself. Art is my friend, my buddy.” After Graceland, Esther plans to attend graduate school for psychology. She wants to find a career in therapy. She doesn’t know much else about her future, except that she wants to have a dog. If you haven’t met Esther yet, you’re missing out. Whenever you need a pick-me-up, a quick chat with Esther, and a few of her signature catch phrases, could definitely turn your day around. You may even get a cool new nickname out of the conversation.