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Alumni Spotlight: Prof. Agreement Lathi Jotia

Alumni Spotlight: Prof. Agreement Lathi Jotia

The Patton College is proud to feature Professor Agreement Lathi Jotia, University of Botswana’s School of Graduate Studies Acting Dean, as December’s Alum of the Month. Professor Jotia received the University’s Teaching Excellence Award for innovative ways of teaching and impacting student learning.

Prof. Jotia, who is from Botswana, earned his Ph.D. in Educational Studies (Cultural Studies in Education) from The Patton College in 2006. He also earned a bachelor’s in Education (Adolescent-to-Young Adult Education) and a master’s in International Affairs (African Studies/Politics) from Ohio University in 2002 and 2003 respectively.

We asked Prof. Jotia a few questions about his time at Ohio University.

Why did you choose Ohio University’s Patton College for your program?

The program on Educational Studies was interdisciplinary in nature, which allowed me to tailor my Ph.D. research to embrace multicultural diversity at the same time remaining solid on my theoretical orientation on Democracy and Education in developing areas. Above all, we had the best qualified professors who were solidly rooted on critical theory and critical pedagogy. The College was also well resourced, be it in books and technology.

Provide a brief summary of your career/opportunities since graduation:

  1. Acting Dean, School of Graduate Studies & Professor of Education, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana (June 2019-present)
  2. Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida (2007-2008)
  3. Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Studies, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio (Summer 2007)

How did we prepare you for your career/next steps in your education?

The various teaching, GA, and consultant opportunities as availed by The Patton College allowed me to interact with people from various frontiers of life and diverse backgrounds. Above all, it gave me the opportunity to embark on pragmatic scholarship where my consciousness was challenged to not only learn but to also find ways of fitting-in into the robust and complex diverse culture of the USA. My best opportunity was when I was accorded the opportunity to become a Graduate Teaching Assistant where I facilitated a course on Education and Cultural Diversity. The course compelled me to grow fast mentally and in scholarship since we discussed controversial issues on education and marginalization, gender disparity, Global-North vs. Global-South and the attached stereotypes, racism as cancer in society, what it means to be Black or White in the USA; amongst many others. I was also taught by professors of repute who were so passionate about democracy and multicultural diversity in the USA.

What inspired you most during your time at OHIO?

My earlier response obviously covers this question, but the most exciting moment was when I appeared on radio and television as a Cultural and Political Consultant under Ohio Valley International Council Program in liaison with The Patton College to educate people about the African continent and my country Botswana. What I found very funny and perplexing during the interviews and even during the call-ins is when people displayed a wrong and legitimate thought process that Africa is a country and NOT a continent. I laughed my lungs out when I thought of this level of ignorance, but I was also happy that I was on the course of education to liberate the masses from stereotypical assumptions and conclusions about Botswana and Africa in general.

What’s your favorite/most memorable memory of your time as a Patton College student?  

As earlier indicated, I was impressed by the level of scholarship of my professors. When they taught us Critical Theory versus Democratic Education and Multicultural Diversity—you would just wish that you “become them overnight.” Those folks meant business in scholarship!

What is your favorite place on or off campus?

The classroom was my best space since it accorded me the opportunity to advance my mental faculties at the same time robustly challenging those ideas which I thought were suppressive and unjust in terms of advocating and justifying the socio-economic and political inequality in the USA and beyond. The classroom at that level made me understand the beauty of appreciating intellectual diversity and also having to learn to live with those ideas and values contrary to your space and comfort zone. I also liked the African Student Association events because they made me “To see Africa at OU” and quench the home-sickness. But I still remember the then Carriage Hill Apartments where I started my family with my wife Winnie some 21 years back. We have seen the greatness of God in Athens, Ohio!

What tips/advice would you give to people who are considering studying your program at OHIO?

Let me hasten to indicate that I was raised by my grandmother, Ngwene Mma Khani Jotia, who does not even have a primary school certificate. However, that being as it may, my grandmother who is 99 years old today inculcated social and moral values in me which I will take to my grave. She taught me to believe in myself and be a hard worker despite the challenges that can present themselves before me. She taught me to be a fighter who is sober yet brutal intellectually. I was taught by my grandmother that you do not need to have a history of success or a good family background in order for you to become successful—all you need is to be a focused hard worker who has a sense of purpose. My grandmother taught me to fear and trust God—such principles have sustained me from Zero to a University Professor and currently to being an Acting Dean of Post Graduate Studies. I know God has something special for me beyond this position. All the credit goes to my grandmother—she has been the fountain of my strength and focus. So yes, OHIO is the place to be, BUT you ought to have moral principles that you can stand on to forge on victoriously.

Describe Ohio University in 5 words:

Home far away from home; Classic ground of academia; Well-resourced fountain of knowledge; Home of multicultural diversity; The home of robust scholarship!