SGA President Creates T-Shirt to Support COVID-19 Relief Effort

By Tom McLaughlin

Real art, explains Sam Adepoju, never begins as a commercial endeavor.

“When we are not the ones being directly affected, it is easy to forget about the struggles of others.” – Sam Adopoju

“Art is created because the artist wants to share something beautiful with the world,” says the senior urban studies major with a painting minor at Rutgers University–Camden.

Adepoju’s personal philosophy is the inspiration behind his clothing line Poju Apparel, photography company Poju Pics, and nonprofit Some Painted Things – featuring items purchased at nonprofit stores and repainted into stunning works of art. Just as fittingly, he is now using profits from his clothing line to make the world a more beautiful place.

The Willingboro resident is donating proceeds from a T-shirt that he created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support Convoy of Hope, an American faith-based nonprofit that donates food, supplies, and humanitarian services throughout the world.

Adopoju is donating proceeds from a T-shirt that he created to support Convoy of Hope.

Adepoju, the Rutgers University–Camden Student Government Association (SGA) president and a member of the Rutgers–Camden Board of Directors, chose to support the nonprofit for its record of helping more than 132 million people and distributing more than $1.1 billion in resources worldwide since its inception in 1994.

“If that wasn’t enough, they are supplying 10 million meals with the help of some partners in response to COVID-19,” he says.

For Adepoju, the decision to do something didn’t take a second thought. When a problem arises, he says, it is up to others to pitch in to solve it, regardless of whether it touches them personally. He recalls that, when the virus first started claiming lives in China, he felt “disappointment” in the lack of response from his fellow humans. It was easy for people to brush off the seriousness of the threat, he says, until the infection and death tolls mounted.

“When we are not the ones being directly affected, it is easy to forget about the struggles of others,” he says. “When the virus first broke out, if all the world powers rallied around China and helped them to completely contain and deal with the outbreak, it would not have become the global pandemic that it is now. Being proactive is always the best thing to do.”

Pictured with Adopoju (far right) is (l to r) Rutgers University President Robert Barchi and James F. Dougherty, chair of the Rutgers–Camden Board of Directors and the Rutgers University Board of Trustees.

A native of Ibadan, Nigeria, Adepoju credits his roots for broadening his perspective and allowing him to remain well-grounded. He explains that the United States and Nigeria similarly have wealthy and impoverished people and places, but the poverty experienced in his native country is on a greater scale.

“It is painful to see,” he says. “It keeps me from complaining about a lot of things.”

His biggest goal in life now, he says, is to help as many people as possible in any way that he can, which includes his ventures Poju Apparel, Some Painted Things, and Poju Pics.

“I try to make the three work together whenever I can,” says Adepoju, who began painting on people’s clothes several years ago and hasn’t looked back.

The senior urban studies major began to sharpen his focus on a law degree and career in politics when he traveled to Washington, D.C. with fellow Rutgers students in spring 2018.

The outlook has also served him well in his roles as SGA president and a board member at Rutgers–Camden. Under his leadership, the SGA has bolstered food security on campus, donating a new refrigerator and freezer to the Raptor Pantry. The association has also focused on spreading awareness of mental health resources, improving sustainability, and making the campus more interactive via placemaking. The SGA, he notes, recently purchased solar-powered outdoor tables with built-in wireless charging pads and a 10-foot fire pit with outdoor seating.

“We look forward to the day when we can gather together again in our newly designed space,” says Adepoju, who is also a member of the photography club.

Initially a biology major, Adepoju “started to think about things through a different lens” and transferred to urban studies when he worked with the Rutgers University Foundation to help raise $1 million for the Scarlet Promise Grant. He is a grateful recipient of the award, formerly known as the Rutgers Assistance Grant, which supplements federal and state financial aid.

He then began to sharpen his focus on a law degree and career in politics when he traveled to Washington, D.C. with fellow Rutgers students in spring 2018 to seek continued federal funding for education grants. He ultimately hopes to make positive changes for his city, state, and nation through his career.

As Adepoju looks forward to his May 2020 graduation, his initial plans were to take the LSAT and apply to Rutgers Law School. However, the next exam date has been pushed back, so he has decided to take some time and map out his next steps.

Whether they are ventures benefiting himself or others, he never loses belief in himself.

“Hard work beats talent every time,” says Adepoju, “so if you work hard, you will get results.”

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