Dancing dreams and more

Omoniyi Osoba, a junior at Eastside High School who's dual-enrolled at SFCC, excels at dance and academics, too.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 11:09 p.m.
When she was a young girl, Omoniyi Osoba's father presented her with an empty journal.
"He told me to write down all of my goals," explains Osoba. "That way, I would see them written down."
This "Book of Goals" proved to be more than simply the whimsy of a child; it is a testament to how far Osoba has come.
With tremendous focus and determination, Osoba has managed to excel in academics, athletics and philanthropies, all the while pursuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer.
Characteristic of this balancing act, Osoba is the director of choreography at Redeeming Faith and Anointing Church as well as a member of the National Honor Society. A stand-out among her peers, Osoba finds time for it all.
Indeed, what this Eastside High junior has achieved in her 16 years is more than many achieve in a life time.
"I've been 'wowing' ever since she was a child," says her mother, Teresa Osoba. "Ever since she was born."
Currently dual-enrolled at Santa Fe Community College, Osoba continues to 'wow,' maintaining a 3.8 GPA while taking all college-level courses. Early on, Osoba made this a special promise to her father.
"When 'Niyi was (transitioning from middle to high school), she didn't want to do the IB (program) - she felt she'd be too busy (to maintain good grades)," says her father Babajide Osoba. Babajide struck a deal with his daughter.
In exchange for allowing her to take Advanced Placement courses, which would be less of a strain on Omoniyi, "I had her write an essay promising that she will not make less than a B average," explains Babajide. In a characteristic move, "(Omoniyi) wrote 'A average,' insisting she could do it."
It is this fierce determination and maturity that has always been characteristic of Osoba.
But she is still just 16. From the respectful "yes ma'am's" to the excitable way she describes her love of dance, Osoba is a quintessential 16-year-old.
"My love for (dance) - to get up and do it everyday, I just love it," says Osoba, who aspires to "(eventually) own a dance studio." But Osoba, a full-scholarship student at Pofahl Dance Studio for more than 13 years, acknowledges the value of academics.
Osoba's instructor of over nine years, Pofahl co-owner, Judy Skinner, attests to this duality in Osoba.
"She's a remarkably gifted dancer and a very able choreographer," says Skinner. "And while she's also extremely mature for her age, she is still one of the kids."
"You can't live off of just being a dancer or dance teacher," adds Osoba.
With this in mind, Osoba hopes to attend Alabama State University - "it has a really good math program" - and plans to graduate with a degree in accounting.
But dance will always be tops for Osoba. Despite a recent knee injury, her second, she plans to audition in Miami on Feb. 5 for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to attend a six-week summer dance program. And she's sending an audition videotape to the Dance Theatre of Harlem, also to be able to attend a summer program, both in New York.
Later this month, Osoba will perform with the Eastside High School Marching Auxiliary and in February with the Solo Ensemble, Eastside's dance team, proof that her dream is still very much alive.
Again sounding more mature than her age would suggest, Osoba has one piece of advice for her peers.
"If you know what you are good at and you love it, just run with it. Don't let anyone stand in your way."

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