I AM FPHLP 2016: Ekiuwa Imariagbe

ekiuwa imariagbeDuring her sophomore year, Ekiuwa began to question her interest in the health field; she wanted to learn about working outside the traditional roles of being a doctor or a nurse. She came across an Instagram photo with the hashtag "FPHLP," and was pleased to discover a program that would offer her a broader perspective on health and healthcare.

Ekiuwa Imariagbe was part of the 2016 FPHLP cohort. She is currently a junior at Syracuse University, majoring in Health and Exercise Science with a minor in Nutrition. This past summer, Ekiuwa's field placement was with the Program for Multicultural Health, a unit of Community Health Services at Michigan Medicine. In this role, she helped to cultivate knowledge and skills in individuals and in community organizations through health programming. Ekiuwa also facilitated projects and activities related to community benefit reporting, including the input, analysis, and dissemination of data.

As a participant, Ekiuwa faced her greatest challenge overcoming self-doubt. She says, "FPHLP helped me validate my self-worth; that I deserved to be in the cohort and that there is a greater purpose for me. At times, I had to take a step back to appreciate the work I put in . . . I have learned that I should not rely on validation from others to recognize my work ethic and dedication . . . FPHLP has helped increase my self-confidence to accept that I am a bright young woman of color, and I can truly do anything that I set my mind to."

Ekiuwa describes her "defining moment" in FPHLP as having had the opportunity to travel to different communities in Flint, Michigan to deliver clean water to residents. "The scenery was so vivid, raw, and unfiltered," she recalls. "My heart filled with guilt, and my eyes poured in disbelief. Not only was I unaware that the water crisis was still occurring, but this was a clear case of the systematic racial and economic atrocities occurring in the United States."

Since completing the program, Ekiuwa has started volunteering at the Onondaga County Health Department, archiving STD case files. She has also begun collaborating with a faculty member in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics to start a research project.

A few weeks ago, Ekiuwa learned that she was accepted to a study abroad in Ghana, with costs covered through the Gilman Scholarship Program and the Himan Brown Fund. She is very excited to spend 8 weeks in Accra with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). She will contribute to IOM's day-to-day operations, working primarily at the community level. She will also complete either a research or a development project collaborating with the local community and village leaders.

Ekiuwa's long-term goal is to have a career in global health in order to work with developing nations in Africa. She is interested in advocacy and public policy in clinical practice that incorporates the missions of public health and preventative care. "I hope to broaden my perspective in patient care and personalized treatments for my patients in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the many facets that influence their overall well-being," she explains. After she graduates, Ekiuwa plans to pursue internships and fellowships before she applies to graduate school.

For the next cohort of FPHLPers, Ekiuwa recommends, "Live in the moment. Be genuine and really have a conversation with yourself and think, 'What am I hoping to gain from this experience?' If you are just looking for a program to put on your resume, FPHLP is not the program for you. You will work hard and build long lasting friendships while meeting some of the most inspiring individuals in the field of health. FPHLP is family and it is a great support system to have. Be yourself and never be afraid to speak on your thoughts or truth. You will be surprised how many people feel the same way you do."