Our conversation series is all about empowerment and inspiration. And if there’s anybody who embodies that, it’s Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe. Dr. Nesochi was one of the first people chosen as a Gates Millennium Scholar and has had extensive schooling to become the physician and health media personality that she is today. She’s been featured in outlets such as Vogue, Forbes, and CNBC Africa and we had the awesome opportunity to chat with her via email. Check out our interview with Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe below.
Daily Ellement: Let’s hop right into it! Tell us about your educational path to become the doctor you are today.
Dr. Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe: I attended Newark Academy, a phenomenal high school in Livingston, NJ. They offered a world class education that really prepped me for college and beyond. I went on to major in biology at Boston University. I graduated early and moved to Paris during that time and was studying French at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. I’m absolutely in love with Paris and to this day it remains one of my favorite cities of all time.
Anyhow, I then attended grad school, receiving my masters degree at Dartmouth College with a concentration in biostatistics and epidemiology. There are so many skill sets that I learned while at Dartmouth that I definitely put to good use routinely. I am so glad I pursued that degree prior to entering medical school.
Soon thereafter, I began my medical studies at Georgetown University School of Medicine— truly a one of a kind medical education! I have very fond and special long lasting memories of my D.C. days. I then completed my residency training in internal medicine at New York Presbyterian Queens and stayed in NY to start working as a hospitalist at NYU.
DE: Did you always want to be a physician? How did you decide on your specialty?
NOI: Yes. Absolutely! There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to become a doctor. It was always a childhood dream. I was an overzealous ambitious little kid who vowed at a young age that I would be a physician. I never let go of the dream and had to make it a reality for myself.
How did I decide on my specialty? Well, as you rotate through different specialties during your clinical years of medical school, you certainly get a sense of what field is the best fit for you. No matter what you decide upon though, it is critical to continue to seek out your personal passions in life and try to integrate them into your career of choice. That is the driving force that continues to help me keep the spark and excitement I have for medicine alive throughout the duration of my career.
DE: Along with practicing medicine and teaching at NYU School of Medicine, you’re also a trusted medical expert for many different media outlets. How did you come into that role?
NOI: I really enjoy providing my thoughts, insight, and commentary on a vast range of topics. Nonetheless, I welcomed the various media opportunities that came my way. One opportunity led to another and things just seemed to evolve from there. I am extremely passionate about health media!
DE: What advice would you give to someone who has big dreams but is afraid to try to make them come true because of grades, money, or whatever else?
NOI: There is a dream and a vision that each and every one of us has for our future. Most people are not quite sure of the exact steps to take in making those dreams a reality. Many a time, fear and self doubt may even get in the way of trying to really figure things out and taking the necessary first steps to make it happen. But you truly do yourself a huge disservice when you allow fear to get in the way of fulfilling your destiny. Grades, money, or anything else shouldn’t hinder you from dreaming big and trying to make your dreams come to fruition.
If there is something that you’ve been wanting to pursue, there really is no better time than the present to just go for it! Don’t let anything hold you back. Remove any self doubt you may have from your mind and don’t let your life pass you by without attempting to chase those dreams. There may definitely be hurdles along the way and the path may not be so easy, but just continue to push forward in faith.
DE: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a doctor? What do you like most about what you do?
NOI: I learn so many life lessons as I continue to practice medicine. But, one important lesson I’ve learned is that we all have an inner strength that allows us to overcome so many life obstacles and hardships. Sometimes we allow ourselves to believe that these challenges are insurmountable. But we are all capable of getting through any situation even when the odds seem to be totally against us. I’ve witnessed friends, family, colleagues, and patients overcome near impossible feats. The resilience of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me!
DE: At the risk of sounding like a job interview, where do you see yourself in the next few years?
NOI: Well, I definitely intend to continue to immerse myself in the world of health media. It is a wonderful platform to educate the public and promote increased awareness about health and wellness. I additionally plan on working on some global health projects. Ultimately, I’d like to become an agent of change in the world of healthcare internationally.