Temilola Ransome-Kuti’s name, like many other aspects central to her identity, stems from her Nigerian roots. Temilola (Temi for short) means "God gives you wealth" , not in terms of money but in good fortune—which she’s worked to bring to many on Penn’s campus. Her voice rings loud and clear all around campus, demonstrating her passion for activism and dedication to her beliefs.
When Temi joined the United Minorities Council during her freshmen year, she spearheaded several initiatives pertaining to diversity and Greek Life. In her three years on the council, she worked to ensure that fraternities and sororities provide safe spaces that are inclusive to people from all backgrounds. She brought together 30 organizations through cultural competence workshops that talk about race, class, gender, sexuality and religion. Temi and her fellow UMC members brought 30+ organizations together to start the conversation.
According to Temi, “The go to for predominantly white fraternities is to talk about race, but that is not necessarily the case for multicultural Greek organization. It’s more so about whether these are spaces where people can feel comfortable even if they don’t identify with the majority of the people in the fraternity. Diversity can be about demographics, but it's also about promoting differences in thought, and being comfortable with differences in opinion.”
Temi discovered very early that sororities were not for her. They were just too big, and she found it hard to relate to many people. She decided instead to join St. Elmo, a co–ed fraternity. “It’s an incredibly inclusive place, where people can but heads but still feel connected in some way,” she says.
As a student in Wharton, Temi is not only passionate about activism, but also about business as well. She hopes to tie these interests together to bring more wealth into marginalized, low-income communities and to economically empower as many people as she can. She believes she can make the greatest impact in her West African home. “If I could dedicate my life to improving others’ lives, not through charity but by giving people resources to use their own skills to boost those who might not have been otherwise, I think that would be really cool," she says. "If I could do this while traveling and meeting new people across the world, I wouldn’t be mad about that either.”
Temi's eyes brightened as she spoke of Penn’s black community. “I am obsessed with Black Penn,” she says. “They are so thought–provoking, inspiring and supportive.” Her peers, she says, have challenged her to continuously fight for rights.
But despite all she does on campus, Temi is able to give herself a break. This, she believes, is the biggest change she has observed in herself since freshmen year. Even though those around her have never been sources of pressure, her time at Penn has taught her that internally she can be extremely critical of herself. “I’ve given myself more room to fail and I think this in itself has given me more confidence,” she says.
Get to know Temi in her own words:
Street: How would your friends describe you in three words?
Temilola Ransome-Kuti: Funny, I think I’m funny? Honest and loyal.
Street: If you were on The Bachelor/ The Bachelorette how would you make your entrance?
TR: Well, a lot of my friends would probably tell you that I am super talented at harmonizing. So I guess what I would do, is get another person and harmonize with them because that’s my thing. I like to sing even though I can’t very well.
Street: What would you sing?
TR: I’d probably sing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. So there’s the album and the song, which are both amazing.
Street: There are two types of people at Penn…
TR: I think there are people who can tolerate having 1000+ notifications in their email and then there are people who can’t.
Street: What’s one question we forgot to ask you?
TR: What are my hobbies, or what I do for fun? I don’t really have any specific hobbies but I do watch a TON of TV. I’ve probably tried every show anyone has suggested for me.
Street: Current show recommendations?
TR: Atlanta is a really good show, it won two Golden Globes and even has Childish Gambino!