Florida A&M University (FAMU) graduating senior Nellena Adekoya has a lot to smile about. On Saturday, May 3, she will be among more than 1,300 candidates who will receive diplomas during FAMU’s spring 2014 commencement ceremonies.
Behind Adekoya’s infectious smile is also the excitement of beginning her journey to obtain the title of doctor.
The Grayson, Ga. native has accomplished the phenomenal feat of being accepted into six medical schools: the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, the Meharry Medical College, the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, the Florida State University College of Medicine, the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine. She’s decided to attend the Medical College of Georgia, which is located near her hometown.
With her sight’s set on becoming an OB-GYN, Adekoya, 21, said she believes what’s made her such an attractive candidate for medical school is simply her warm personality and passion for helping others.
“I think what helped me to standout was the interview process. I was able to show them that what I had to offer was more than what was on paper,” said Adekoya, who will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Letina Banks, biology instructor and academic advisor, said she knows exactly why so many distinguished medical programs courted Adekoya.
“Nellena has been a superb student from start to finish. She is a shining star,” Banks explained. “No matter what, she always has a smile on her face, is always humble and displays a caring personality. She is a model student and has never been afraid to ask questions or ask for help. She truly has what it takes to be a great physician – she will be a great physician.”
Adekoya’s interest in practicing medicine stems back to before she was a kindergartener.
“Since I was a four-year-old I've wanted to become a doctor. I used to watch a show called ‘Rescue 911’ with my mother and I was inspired to help people in need,” said Adekoya. “From there I took science classes, shadowed physicians and volunteered. I’ve never had any other career option in mind.”
According to Adekoya, a self-proclaimed soccer enthusiast, who donates much of her free time to coaching area youth, FAMU has served as a foundation for her ability to excel in and out of the classroom. She was a recipient of FAMU’s Life Gets Better Scholarship, which offers a full-ride to National Achievement and Merit Semifinalists who maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in high school and major in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“FAMU gave me every tool I needed, both academically and socially, to form a great foundation for medical school,” Adekoya said. “We have some of the most caring and available professors around. I'm very proud to be a Rattler.”
While Adekoya is poised to become one of the nation’s next leaders in medicine, she asserts that everything she has accomplished to get her to this point is not about her.
“My main goal is to help as many people as I can,” she said. “Once I'm established, I'd like to do my best to institute free or discounted medical care services every year. I'm not interested in fame or fortune, just impacting lives.”