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Vital Signs

Bringing care back home

Ayobami Olufadeji, a second-year medical student at Geisel.

By Amos Esty

Growing up in Nigeria, Ayobami Olufadeji ('15) was aware even from an early age of the problems his country faced with access to health care.

"I came back from school one day, and people were crying in the compound where we lived," he says. He asked his mother what had happened, and she told him that someone had died. When he asked why, she told him, "It's because we don't have a lot of doctors. Maybe one day you can be a doctor for us." He has known ever since that he would eventually make it to medical school. He just didn't know how he'd get there.

After completing high school, Olufadeji left Nigeria to attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, determined to make it to medical school after college. A few years later, he found himself in Hanover on the way to an admissions interview.

"One of the things I've learned is that the easiest way to make it through something is to have a good support system," he says. And the interview process convinced him that "if I wanted to be supported, this was the place to be."

That support system has turned out to be just as important as Olufadeji expected. He mentions a few faculty members who were particularly helpful, including Virginia Lyons, M.D., a professor of anatomy and the assistant dean of the first-year curriculum, and Kathleen Muldoon, Ph.D., who teaches the embryology section of the anatomy course. "School is hard, but if you have people to carry you through and support you, it makes it a heck of a lot easier," he says.

Olufadeji still has a long way to go before reaching his goal of improving health care in Nigeria, but he says that what matters is that he makes it in the end, however long and winding the path might be. "I'm always open to change as long as I understand what the final goal is," he says. "This is what I want to do for the next 20, 30, 40 years. How I get there is flexible."

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