Q&A with Olu Adeniran, MBChB
Morghen Philippi, MPH global health concentration student and graduate research assistant for Research, Innovation and Global Solutions, interviewed Olu Adeniran, MBChB, about his scholarship, his identities as a physician and international student, and his plans for the future.
What was your background before enrolling at the Gillings School of Global Public Health?
I trained as a physician in Nigeria, and during my undergraduate medical studies, I spent some of my free time volunteering on medical outreaches to indigent communities around the university. I also headed the editorial board of the student medical journal where I was responsible for a weekly publication called ‘the campus doctor’ to educate students about issues such as mental health and reproductive health. This exposure gave me the opportunity to explore public health issues such as HIV/AIDS, equitable access to health care and expansion of care to underserved communities. Doing all these, I realized I had found my passion.
Subsequently after medical school and internship, as a practicing physician, I continued volunteering to deliver healthcare to hard-to-reach rural communities using mobile clinics. However, just before Gillings, I worked as a Clinical Associate with a health consulting firm where I was responsible for implementing the continuous quality improvement of HIV treatment, care and support; prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV; and management of TB/HIV co-infection.
Why did you decide to get your MPH at Gillings?
The Gillings School of Global Public Health has always captured my attention because of her excellent interdisciplinary research, curriculum and faculty. I believe the curriculum design is the best fit for my academic and professional goals. I am assured that my Gillings experience will effectively equip me with the knowledge and skills required to translate statistically analyzed data into meaningful statements for the purpose of advocacy and policy making. These skills are necessary to effectively engage, negotiate, and advocate for a revamping of health policies that will usher in an accelerated reduction of health inequities, and an improved access to healthcare.
Also, I constantly read about the award-winning faculty with avid interest, and I am awed by their commitment to mentoring and impacting their students. I love the school’s philosophy of “the honor code”, and I admire the commitment Gillings has shown in helping her alumni grow and thrive in their various fields.
What does it mean to you to be named a Tellus Leadership Scholar?
Being named a Tellus Leadership Scholar has opened up new possibilities to serve and grow. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity. To elaborate, I must add that while the funding provided by the scholarship has made it possible for me to attend Gillings, on a larger scale, what scholarships like this do is: they make our world a better place, and this inspires me to strive for excellence, so I can be in a position to do the same for others in the future.
What do you hope to do after graduation?
Right now, I hope to go back to work in sub-Saharan Africa after Gillings. I hope to start my work by building on the existing partnerships and collaborations I have with a team of health care workers back home who are working hard to expand care to hard-to-reach and underserved communities. The plan is to transform the results of our partnerships into high yielding ones by using research and systems thinking to innovate evidence based policies required to upscale health and build sustainable frameworks that will facilitate a rapid expansion of care to disadvantaged communities.
I would also like to build the research capabilities of institutions in low resource settings. I am very motivated, and with all enthusiasm, I look forward to the adventure ahead.
How do your identities as an international student and physician inform your current studies?
Well, studying and practicing medicine in Nigeria gave me a first-hand experience of human suffering, especially in settings where all my knowledge of clinical practice could not save the people I am supposed to help heal because it was already too late. Seeing this happen repeatedly made me question if more could be done to prevent disease in the first place, and this was what led me to public health, and from seeing how early public health intervention is saving lives, I am certain I made the right choice.
Primarily, I view the public health discourse in my courses here at Gillings through the prism of a physician and the structural systems I have experienced. However, through the shared unique experience of classmates from diverse backgrounds such as philosophy, social work etc., I am beginning to view public health issues through a wider lens; and that is the wonderful thing about schooling here at Gillings. The opportunity to learn from the shared experience of gifted faculty and students.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
This is a difficult question to answer because I have a chronic case of wanderlust; however, if I must choose to travel to one place, it is definitely going to be South Africa as I would love to visit the Nelson Mandela Memorial. He lived a selfless life and made our world a better place.