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From Alimosho to the US, ADEJOKE MORONKOLA’s story inspires

Adejoke attended the University of Lagos and graduated in November 2015 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacology with Second Class Honors (Upper), and had her National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) in Sango Ota, where she served her country- Nigeria, and worked as a Pharmacy Technician.

During her service year, she traveled back and forth to Lagos to apply for jobs, and after several months of interviews and training, she got a job as a Medical Representative. Two years after, she decided to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health, and this decision was fueled by her passion for requisite knowledge that would empower her to address contemporary public health issues and improve public health practices globally.

She applied to numerous public health programs in the United States in 2018, got funded for her Master’s program, and graduated in 2020 as one of the top three in her cohort. In August 2020, she decided to do something that would allow her care for people and be there for them in their most vulnerable moments. She embarked on another journey to obtain a Nursing Degree.

The United States opened her eyes to many opportunities and a pathway for impact and growth which the Nursing degree offers. “Pursuing a Nursing degree in the United States was pitted with several challenges: traveling off the beaten path, meeting my financial obligations, and the occasional despair that comes with being away from home.” Adejoke recounts.

She graduated as the only student in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing(ABSN) cohort with a Summa Cum laude (honors), Dean’s list every semester, a multicultural diversity scholar, and the undergraduate commencement speaker of the spring 2022 class.

She held several leadership roles such as accelerated cohort executive representative, college of Nursing peer ambassador, mentor in the mentee-mentor program, and CFAA advisory board member.

She was offered 9 intensive care unit positions with several prestigious hospitals in the United States, and she currently works as a medical intensive care unit nurse in Virginia.

TAKE US THROUGH YOUR EARLY YEARS AND INFLUENCE TILL TODAY

As the second child in a family of four, growing up in Alimosho, a suburban part of Lagos State, Nigeria, was not really a gloomy experience. My early years of growth were filled with many dreams and aspirations that seemed impossible considering the circumstances and limitations at my disposal then. Growing up around kids who had everything was very challenging for me, as I wanted to do so many things, e.g., play basketball, keyboard, piano, and saxophone but I didn’t have the right environment to fan the flames in me as a young child. I remember visiting one of my classmates, and I found out that she could play the violin and the piano. Out of curiosity, I asked her how she learned to play those instruments, and she explained that she attended a musical training class after school that cost N50,000.00. Immediately after I heard the cost of the musical training class, I knew I couldn’t enroll. That day, I returned home determined to work hard to ensure that I give my myself all the beautiful opportunities I missed while growing up. All these experiences kept me persistent and focused, and I made it a matter of responsibility to explore all available legitimate options to achieve my dreams.

WATCHING YOUR PARENTS MAKE SACRIFICES FOR YOU AND YOUR SIBLING, WHAT DID IT INSPIRE IN YOU?

While growing up, my parents did their best to support us (the children). However, my mum tried as much as possible to ensure that we got some of the basic things we needed as a family most times without waiting for my dad. This resonated a lot with me and taught me to be hardworking, sacrificial, persevering, resilient and contented. Her way of life opened my eyes to the fact that being responsible and having responsibilities has nothing to do with gender. It further convinced me that management of the affairs within the home is a collaborative effort. It is important to mention that my dad was also supportive as much as he could while working so hard. Life is quite unpredictable; whoever is blessed in the family should not hesitate to play their roles where and when necessary for the kids’ sake.

SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A PHARMACY TECHNICIAN DURING YOUR NYSC

Working as a Pharmacy Technician during my NYSC days was a beautiful and challenging experience. It was beautiful because it was my first job after graduating from the University, and I had the opportunity to work in a corporate environment. However, it was challenging because I worked like a full-time employee of the firm even though I was paid a stipend. Another memorable experience I had during this period was working with diverse people of low backgrounds that did not even have the opportunity I had. Some of them did not graduate from high school but were hardworking and passionate about their responsibilities at work, while hoping to return to school. I was able to encourage and inspire them by helping them realize that their academic dreams and aspirations are valid, and in due time, by dint of hard work and perseverance, it would become a reality.

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SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE BEING A MEDICAL REPRESENTATIVE AFTER JOB HUNTING FOR A WHILE

After spending some months on the streets in search of a good job, I eventually got a Medical Representative role in one of the big pharmaceutical firms around. It is important to mention that this was the beginning of my breakthrough. I had an official car to myself, and I was earning a reasonable amount of money. However, the job came with its challenges. I would wake up as early as possible to market pharmaceutical products from one hospital to the other in a day. The pharmaceutical marketing space is a crazy one. Prescription of products by providers is not just a matter of quality and effectiveness; it is more about which pharmaceutical brand gives the best incentives. I remember pitching to a particular provider one day, and after my pitch, she told me that the company I was working for then had been out of the market for a long time when that wasn’t the case, Why? Just because a rival firm had promised her a seminar trip to the UAE. Her reaction to my pitch was a bit disappointing, and I told myself that my days were numbered on this job. Still, I must mention that I had great colleagues and bosses that made the work easier for me.

WHY THE DECISION TO PURSUE A MASTER’S DEGREE IN PUBLIC HEALTH? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH US INCLUDING BEING AMONG THE TOP THREE IN YOUR COHORT.

I’ve always loved public speaking, and I also cherish anything that has to do with public health. One of my greatest dreams is to work for WHO or the United Nations. After a lot of research, I discovered that being a Public Health practitioner would pave the way for me to achieve my dreams. As a follow-up action, I applied to different schools and intentionally focused my applications on the United States of America because of the country’s prestige and the opportunities it offers. After gaining admission to study my desired course in an entirely new environment with a functioning system, I had access to many resources that aided my learning process. I had access to stable electricity, internet, library, free research resources, and so on. At a point, I told myself that I couldn’t come all the way from Nigeria and not make a difference here. The grace of God, resilience, and hard work made it possible for me to be in the top three in my cohort. It was indeed a great experience.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOTIVATION TO OBTAIN A NURSING DEGREE AND THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED WHILE STUDYING.

Before I completed my Master’s degree program, I had started developing a keen interest in patient interaction and core Medicine. Immediately I completed the Master’s Program, I put in my application for Nursing school, and then the journey began. I faced several challenges from juggling schoolwork (and excelling in my academics) to working on campus during the week, weekends and some holidays so I could foot the bills that were outside my scholarships e.g rent and feeding. However, the fact that I knew that I had no other option than to succeed, and had the personal mantra of ensuring that I make a difference wherever I found myself, kept me going.

SHARE WITH US ON BEING THE ONLY STUDENT IN THE ACCELERATED BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN NURSING (ABSN) COHORT WITH A SUMMA CUM LAUDE (HONORS), DEAN’S LIST EVERY SEMESTER AND A MULTICULTURAL DIVERSITY SCHOLAR

It was a beautiful experience, as most of my achievements do not really shock me. I consciously and diligently followed the path of greatness. The only challenge I faced on very few occasions was discrimination from my colleagues in school because of my skin colour.

AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY YOU HAD AT EDUCATION, YOU EXCELLED. WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVATING FACTOR?

To be honest, I think one of the most important things to me was the fact that I didn’t give room for my background to define me. I aim for the top, and I always make judicious use of every opportunity that comes my way. God helps me through every step of my way, and He has been the only reason I am where I am today. I always move with the part of the Bible that states that “the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you to give you a hope in the future.” – Jeremiah 29. This particular scripture encourages me daily, whenever I feel down.

SHARE WITH US ON ALL YOUR LEADERSHIP ROLES AND HOW YOU CARRIED THEM OUT

Majority of the leadership roles that I have taken up are merit-based. I carried out the attached tasks diligently and I never compromised. My ability to work with other people also made things easier for me.

TELL US ABOUT BEING AN UNDERGRADUATE COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER OF THE SPRING 2022 CLASS AND YOUR EXPERIENCE

It was an awesome experience that will forever remain one of my proudest moments as a human. Before I could say anything on that podium on that particular day, I tried as much as possible not to cry. A young girl from Alimosho in Lagos, Nigeria, standing as an undergraduate commencement speaker of the Spring 2022 class. Amazing, and again, it could have only been God.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR APPLICATIONS, BEING OFFERED 9 INTENSIVE CARE UNIT POSITIONS WITH SEVERAL PRESTIGIOUS HOSPITALS IN THE UNITED STATES

Everything about where I am today is centered around God. The application processes were not easy, but the positive results gave me the necessary consolation. My current career choice is motivated by my preference to serve the people and the community.

WHAT DAY REMAINS UNFORGETTABLE TO YOU?

If this question was asked a year ago it would have been a different answer, but presently, I can never forget the day I got on the podium to give the speech as the undergraduate commencement speaker, the first Nigerian at that. It was indeed a dream come true for me as it was something I had always looked forward to.

WHAT IS THE WORST EXPERIENCE YOU CAN NEVER FORGET AND HOW DID YOU SURMOUNT IT?

With my kind of background, I had various terrible experiences for which I can’t categorically say which one was the worst, but I give glory to the Almighty God for giving me the grace to surmount all the challenges that have come my way.

MANY HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS ARE LEAVING NIGERIA IN THEIR THOUSANDS, WHAT CAN BE DONE TO MAKE THINGS BETTER?

The healthcare providers leaving Nigeria in droves is as a result of the bad system we have in Nigeria. People find it difficult to survive, as it appears like every Nigerian system is designed to frustrate the people. If we have a working system, things will definitely get better.

NURSES AND THEIR PASSION TO SAVE LIVES, VIS A VIS THEIR EARNINGS IN DEVELOPED COUNTRIES NOT MATCHING SAME IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THIS?
There is no way you can say you want to save the lives of other people if as a nurse, you are not leading a healthy life. To fuel your passion and live a healthy life, you need money. I chose a career I love so much and that gives me the opportunity to be there for people in their most vulnerable moments, and also get rewarded by doing so.

IF YOU WERE TO ADVISE THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT ON HER HEALTH CARE SECTOR, WHAT WILL IT BE?

The Government should create an enabling environment for young Nigerians where dreams and aspirations can come true. The health sector in Nigeria needs to be overhauled generally, and mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that health care workers get paid as and when due. Also, it is also imperative that Government invest heavily in healthcare infrastructures and the training of healthcare professionals. It would be good if the government could reinstate the exchange medical and fellowship programs where the Nigerian government holds a bilateral agreement with UK or US government to train healthcare professionals who would be obliged to come back home after their training to practice in Nigeria and positively impact her health sector. Consequently, this would also substantially reduce the massive exodus of healthcare professionals in Nigeria.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR MILLENNIALS LIKE YOU WHO WANT TO EXCEL LIKE YOU HAVE BUT ARE FACED WITH SIMILAR OR MORE COMPLEX CHALLENGES?

It is very simple. If I can be where I am today, nothing can stop them from achieving their dreams. It is always good to map out a direction and write down your goals.

WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?

I am grateful for growth, and growth as thy say, is evidence of life. I am grateful to God for life. I am grateful for growth, and my support system. I am grateful for the people who have impacted my life in so many ways and stayed through to me throughout the journey and beyond. I would like to use this opportunity to say thank you to such people.

WHAT MUST ANYONE WHO INTENDS TO STUDY ABROAD KNOW?

I would say go for it. There are many opportunities overseas, from scholarships to great jobs after school. At first, the journey would not be easy, but remember always to forge ahead. Make use of the opportunity you have and never stop dreaming. Don’t get too comfortable when you travel out of Nigeria. You need to work harder, acquire skills, seek mentorship, and follow the right people. Never settle for less in a world filled with various opportunities. Never settle for less and in order to this, you have to know what your short and long-term goals are, which would enable you to navigate the journey.

FINAL WORDS

If you’ve ever received an e-mail from me, you will see a quote at the bottom of my e-mail that says, “You can change the narrative, so believe in you.” This is something I believe so much. I want everyone, especially those in difficult situations, to know they can change the narrative of where they are from and make a good or bad story out of it. I live by this quote; “Knowing where I come from does not define me.” So, to everyone who cares, you need to rise beyond your situation and work towards a better version of yourself. Also, never take God out of the equation because there are some situations you would face, and you would require unwavering faith to keep you going. Be the change that you desire. Thank you!”

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