2016 2016: Barbara Okafor '16: A passion for healthcare, research, and service

2016 2016: Barbara Okafor '16: A passion for healthcare, research, and service
Barbara Okafor '16: A passion for healthcare, research, and service

Pursuing research, running track, serving as a student leader, and working on campus, Barbara Okafor '16 has kept her focus and managed her time wisely.

Year: Class of 2016
Aging & Health
Boston, MA
Awards: Includes Pillar of the Community
Honors: Dean's List
Internships: Project Student Success (Harvard Medical), CURE Program (Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center)
Leadership: Includes President, African Student Association; Vice President, Class of 2016
Research: Includes the Relationship between Ascorbic Acid Selectivity and Melanin Level in Melanoma
Next steps: Master’s in Healthcare Management, then an MD

Majoring in biology/pre-med, working on clinical research projects

I became interested in my major the day I was introduced to the clinical aspect of science as a Project Success Student at Harvard Medical School. Project Success is a summer internship program for high school and college students who are interested in the science field. In this program, I was matched with clinical investigators in settings within Harvard Medical School and the medical community to work on clinical research projects. I was in the program for three summers before I began the CURE Program in 2014 at Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, in which I conducted cancer research.

The projects I worked on each summer were:

  • The Effect of Indoor Allergens on Inner City Children and Why It Causes Asthma Morbidity (2011)
  • The Effect of TV Time on Asthmatic Children and Their BMI Levels (2012)
  • The Impact of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) on Food Insecurity (2013)
  • Investigating the Relationship Between Ascorbic Acid Selectivity and Melanin Level in Melanoma (2014)

All the experience I obtained at each of my internship opportunities was valuable.

A very involved student

I am a very involved student both here on campus and also back home in Boston. From being a sprinter on the Women’s Track and Field Team to holding twelve leadership positions here on campus since my freshman year, to working each semester to pay for school, I did it all.

I'm currently the President of the African Student Association here on campus. In our organization, we not only strive to promote the African culture but also academic excellence through scholarship, volunteering, our events, and much more.

I'm also a Senator for College of Arts & Sciences in the Student Government Association and the Vice President of the Class of 2016.

All the leadership roles I've held have taught me that commitment and passion are key when you are pursuing success. I learned how to work with people effectively, and I was a positive role model for many.

Recognition for hard work & leadership

Also, as a leader here on campus I have been recognized multiple times for my hard work and leadership. I've received the following awards for my leadership:

  • Pillar of the Community Award, Spring 2016
  • Louise M. Goodrum Unsung Hero Award, Spring 2015
  • New Bedford City Council Official Resolutions Award, Spring 2015
  • Myra Kraft Community Scholarship For Outstanding Leaders, 2014 and 2015

A passion for running track

My involvement in athletics has kept me focused on everything I was involved in, and has positively affected my UMassD experience. I've been running track for almost ten years. My passion for track began with one of my first coaches who never gave up on me. Before he passed away in 2013, I made a promise to him that I would continue to run track in college.

Even with my heavy course load, I managed to compete each semester while also making Dean’s List. Running track for UMass Dartmouth allowed me to focus and manage my time wisely. Just recently, I was recognized as one of the Little East Conference Winter All-Academic Team Honorees.

Barbara Okafor running track

Working hard every day with a purpose for greatness

My greatest challenge has been accepting that failure and unfortunate situations make one stronger. This was a challenge for me as I started my freshman year at UMass Dartmouth, but now, as I was faced with challenging situations throughout my undergraduate career, I can say that it is 100 percent true.

All the challenges I overcame made me the strong and determined person I am today. I say this because I have lost a handful of loved ones throughout my college career but—although it was hard for me to accept their passing—I learned to use it as a motivation to continue to succeed and make them proud. I work hard every single day with a purpose for greatness, and as I continue to strive for the best, I believe that I am achieving it.

Next steps: Master’s in Healthcare Management, then an MD

My plan following graduation is to pursue my master’s Degree in Healthcare Management and then a Doctor of Medicine Degree right after obtaining my master’s. My ultimate goal is to run a hospital so vast that it will change lives not only in the United States but also in Africa.

More information

College of Arts & Sciences: Biology

College of Arts & Sciences: Aging & Health

Pre-Med Program