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Passionate to inspire others, Neo Kalungu-Banda wrote INSPIRED to motivate his peers.

Making his Mark: Exchange student Kalungu-Banda cherishes his time at OSU

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Media Contact: Kelli Norton | Communication Specialist | 405-744-5496 |

The opportunities for students studying abroad at Oklahoma State University are endless, and Neo Kalungu-Banda is taking advantage of every moment.  

Kalungu-Banda was born in South Africa but grew up in the United Kingdom. He came to OSU as an exchange student studying psychology for the 2022-23 year. Unlike some of his colleagues, though, he arrived in Stillwater as a published author.  

Kalungu-Banda’s book, INSPIRED: The stories within and around us, walks through his life story and the events, places and experiences that have inspired him.  

He started drafting the book during the COVID-19 lockdown after he received news that Boris Johnson, then British prime minister, had canceled all exams in the U.K. With so much free time, Kalungu-Banda called a friend to discuss the situation.  

“I was on the phone with my friend, and out of nowhere, he said, ‘You should write a book,’” Kalungu-Banda said.  

At first, Kalungu-Banda hesitated to begin writing because of his young age. As someone who had just turned 18, he didn’t believe he had the life experience to write a book.  

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘What am I going to write a book about?’” he said.

However, as he began writing his book, it evolved. The first chapter focuses on his life experience and transitions into the inspirational life of others. The other sections contain stories of people who have inspired and taught Kalungu-Banda, along with key moments and venues that have made an impact on his life so far.  

By the end of the book, he hopes the reader reflects upon themselves to try and find inspiration within.  

Writing isn’t Kalungu-Banda’s only passion; he also enjoys sports, inspiring others, entrepreneurship and attending events.

In September, he had the opportunity to go to the 2022 United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York City. The conference centered on transforming education for global authors. Over Thanksgiving break, Kalungu-Banda traveled to Saudi Arabia to attend a conference that focused on sustainable tourism.

“It’s great to be surrounded by like-minded people,” he said.

On Jan. 17, 2023, Kalungu-Banda donated two copies of the volume to the OSU Library and OSU President Kayse Shrum.

Dr. Jeff Simpson, OSU Global’s assistant dean and director of partnerships, opened the ceremony with his remarks about Kalungu-Banda and their time getting to know one another.

“Neo represents talents and aspirations we hope to cultivate in all of our OSU students,” Simpson said.  

Kalungu-Banda hopes that OSU students will read his book and be inspired to achieve their goals.  

“You should always go for what you want,” he said. “Chase your dreams.”

Dr. Shrum was honored to receive the books on behalf of the OSU library.

“What exchange students bring to our campus is an opportunity not only for students from other countries to learn all the experience, but also for us to learn other cultures and to experience other viewpoints,” she said. “That’s what makes us better as people.”  

Kalungu-Banda will never forget his time at OSU.

“Over the past semester, I have had a lot of great experiences,” he said. “Embracing and experiencing the American college lifestyle here at this school has been an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.” 

Author Neo Kalungu-Banda poses with Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum and faculty and staff to celebrate his donation of two books to the OSU library.
Author Neo Kalungu-Banda poses with Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum and faculty and staff to celebrate his donation of two books to the OSU library.

Photos By: Garrett Kirksey

Story By: Kelli Norton | GLOBAL Magazine

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