In 1979, Adewunni and Oladoyin Desalu had both finished graduate school at U.S. universities and returned home to live in Lagos, Nigeria when they received the news that their 3-year-old daughter was deaf. They enrolled Bola in American International School, but she soon fell behind due to the lack of special education services for deaf children. So when she was 6, they made the difficult decision to send her “to the other side of the world” to be a residential student at CID.
Bola spent five years learning to talk at CID, returning home only for extended holidays and summer vacations. She graduated in 1985 at age 11.
In St. Louis, Bola was a long way from her family – but she said she never got homesick because she was having so much fun with her friends. One of her dorm mates was Heather Whitestone, who became Miss America in 1995.
After graduating from CID, Bola stayed in the U.S., attending private schools and becoming an honor roll student. She went to college. In 1996, she received a BS in marketing from Rochester Institute of Technology. In 2001, she received an MS in social work from the University of Pittsburgh.
Bola has pursued both of her educational interests. For many years, she was a social worker for deaf schools and agencies. In 2009, she joined Sprint Relay as an account manager. Now she happily travels throughout the state of North Carolina educating people about a wide array of relay services and technologies. She and her staff give presentations and demonstrations, speak at conferences and exhibit at trade shows.
“I am so happy I was able to learn to talk so people can understand me,” Bola said. Many people say I speak very well and clearly, although I can’t hear myself. Sometimes, some people even think I am hearing!”
Bola is an outgoing professional who credits much of her success to the strong foundation she received at CID. She has also been active in the National Black Deaf Advocates, and is treasurer of the North Carolina chapter.
“Attending CID was the best time of my life!” she said.
“I have so many memories ... I am so grateful there are such caring teachers and staff who wanted the best for me and other students.”