|Ogechukwu Eze '06, M.S. '07 (College of Arts and Sciences)
Warming Up to A New Culture
Cold and rude might be the way Ogechukwu Eze '06, M.S. '07 would have described New York when she first came from Nigeria to Adelphi in 2002.
Nigerian temperatures hover in the 90s and 100s, so even late summer in New York struck her as chilly.
"I had one sweater and one jacket that I wore everyday until someone took me to the mall," she said. That first mall trip took place during spring break.
She was also shocked by just how "outspoken" her classmates were. "At first I thought people were rude," she said of fellow students who spoke back to adults.
Ms. Eze had studied at a Nigerian boarding school for six years before attending Adelphi. "You didn’t talk while the teacher was in class," she said. "It was quite rude."
As a student in the Honors College, Ms. Eze was expected to participate in class dialogues. She recalls being amazed that her classmates knew what to say. She lacked such confidence, and her accented English made her feel even more self-conscious.
Gradually, with the help of her professors, she grew accustomed to speaking her mind both inside and outside the classroom.
Greater comfort with articulating her thoughts has helped Ms. Eze not only navigate rigorous bachelor’s and master's degrees in biology, but also realize her childhood dream of being a medical doctor. This fall, she will attend Yale University Medical School.
Ms. Eze said she is excited about the prospect of going to Yale. "I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel," she said.
With ongoing teacher strikes in Nigeria, Ms. Eze said that a seven-year medical degree might have taken 10 years to complete at home.
Ms. Eze cites her mother, a Nigerian teacher who raised three children almost single-handedly, as her role model. "I followed in her footsteps," she said. "She is a strong woman . . . She sees a little of herself in me."
Ms. Eze suspects that while her mother wishes her daughter were a little less outspoken, she is proud of her accomplishments. She describes her mom as "ridiculously happy" about her daughter's acceptance to medical school.
While her mother wasn't able to attend the Adelphi commencement ceremony, Ms. Eze's younger sister, Chioma Eze '08, was there to share in the joy of a tremendous achievement.
By Bonnie Eissner