In May, Junior Ezeonu graduated from The University of Texas at Arlington with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. Less than a month later, he won election to the Place 8 At-Large seat on the Grand Prairie City Council.
At 22 years old, he is the city’s youngest-ever council member, he has been told.
“As a child, I was always interested in history, social studies and government, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,” Ezeonu says. “I’ll never forget my third-grade teacher telling me, ‘Junior, when you grow up and become president, don’t forget about me.’ As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized my passion is truly helping people through public service.”
During the last month of his collegiate career, he was busier than the average senior – finishing classes, running his own campaign and canvassing Grand Prairie to talk to voters. His election came just three weeks after he graduated summa cum laude from UT Arlington.
“I’m learning firsthand what it really takes,” Ezeonu says. “My advice to young people is always give everything in life a shot. This has just been a life-changing experience so far.”
Ezeonu grew up in Arlington after immigrating to the United States from Nigeria when he was 2 years old. He moved to Grand Prairie in 2015 and soon began serving as a substitute teacher and tutor throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He also started a YouTube channel where he educates young people about politics, government and economics.
Ezeonu believes access to information allows individuals to make informed decisions to better their lives, which is why he dedicates so much of his time to informing and teaching youth.
“I just thank God, and I thank the residents of Grand Prairie for giving me this chance,” he says. “I hope to invest our resources back into the community.”
Rebecca Deen, chair and associate professor of political science at UTA, says Ezeonu was “a joy to teach” and a thoughtful leader of his peers.
“Junior Ezeonu is one of the hardest working, brightest students I have had in a long time,” she says. “Our classes often require collaboration, and he was able to bring out the best in other people by being a careful listener. These qualities – a strong work ethic, a desire to understand and hear people before speaking, wanting others to succeed – will help him be a responsive public servant. We are very proud of him!”
Ezeonu hopes to use his position to continue impacting the lives of others and listening to the concerns of each Grand Prairie resident. He plans to be in his seat for every city council meeting during his three-year apportionment, as he has a lot to do for his “vibrant and beautiful” city.
“I believe I’ve found my calling,” Ezeonu says. “This country, this city and this community have given me so many opportunities to be where I am today. I’m so grateful and excited to build something together and make it feel like home for everyone.”