This week, TSL sat down with Jennifer Okonkwo PO ’16, a Southern California native who started playing basketball as a way to get physically active. In just her second year with the Sagehens, the sophomore has already made a name for—she led the team in both baskets and rebounds in her first season. Okonkwo, a public policy analysis major with a concentration in economics, told us about her activities here at the 5Cs as well as her exciting plans for next spring.
TSL: How did you first get involved with basketball?
Jennifer Okonkwo: I’ve played since I was in fourth grade. I started out in the city league and I’ve played since then. I’m pretty tall, so it makes sense. I also played club ball starting in sixth grade and all the way through high school. It made sense to come here and start playing.
TSL: Did your family influence you in any way?
JO: It’s actually kind of funny … My sisters and I ate a lot of food growing up. We were eating all the time and were also pretty inactive. My mom was like, “You guys need to start exercising,” so that’s how we got started with basketball. Neither one of my parents have athletic backgrounds or anything, but they wanted us to be physically active.
TSL: What position do you play?
JO: I’m a power forward.
TSL: What’s your favorite thing about basketball?
JO: I really like the physicality of the sport. That’s really what drives me to it.
TSL: Is there anything in particular you’re looking forward to this season?
JO: For this season, I’m most excited to see our team play to our full potential. In past seasons, we’ve had low numbers coupled with injuries, which has hindered our performance. But this year we have a solid group of 12 girls and I’m confident that we’ll have a much stronger season. The team is extremely young and while there is still a lot of growing that needs to happen, I think with the girls we have now we can do some serious damage in SCIAC.
TSL: What teams do you root for?
JO: I really like the Lakers. That’s my team. I’m from the area so it makes sense.
TSL: Do you have a ‘spirit’ basketball player—a player in whom you see yourself?
JO: No, not really.
TSL: How about a spirit animal?
JO: Definitely a panther.
TSL: Are you involved in any other extra curricular activities here at the 5Cs?
JO: I’m involved in Pomona’s African Initiative, Pomona Events Committee, and I’m also a sponsor.
TSL: Are you going to study abroad?
JO: I plan on doing some sort of domestic exchange. I plan on ‘studying abroad’ in D.C. in their policy program next spring. If I’m accepted to the program I’m interested in, I will be working an internship of my choice for 40 hours a week and would be taking night classes with other students in the program a few times a week. The classes are policy-related and taught by a CMC professor.
TSL: Why does public policy interest you?
JO: I found it very difficult to condense my interests into one discipline, but the public policy analysis major at Pomona does a great job of giving exposure to a wide variety of subjects. I’m expected to not only take policy courses but also economics and statistics courses. Additionally, exposure to the policy side of economics would help me achieve more management-specific roles.