As a medical student, Jummie Akinwunmi knew she had a lot to accomplish in a short time.
There were the required science courses she had to take, but also the research and clinical experiences that would help solidify her choice to become a doctor in the future. Yet, from the start, Akinwunmi was also determined to spend her undergraduate years learning about herself. She wanted to learn more about Nigeria and her own cultural heritage.
So, alongside his five-year coursework toward a bachelor’s degree in the history of science, medicine, and public health and a master’s of public health (MPH) in health policy, Akinwunmi took courses in African history, African-American history, global health, and more. She joined the Afrobeat dance group Dzana and led the group as president during its second year. She co-founded the Yale Nigerian Student Association and used fun activities and talks to celebrate Nigeria’s rich culture. She worked a summer as an instructor for the Yale Young African Scholars program and introduced African high school students to the college application process. And she studied Yoruba, her parents’ first language.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of is that even though I knew I had a lot of boxes to tick as a pre-med student, I managed to stay committed to my desire that my time at Yale is more than that,” Akinwunmi said. “I wanted to deepen my identity and just learn about myself.”
Along the way, she got a taste of her future life in medicine treating student athletes and others as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) on Yale’s Emergency Medical Services team. , and volunteering as an EMT during school vacations in the town of Beacon, New York.
She was also an undergraduate research assistant in a neuroscience laboratory; spent a summer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) working to ensure fair health and safety policies; and gave blood pressure tests to members of the New Haven community as a volunteer with the Hypertension Awareness and Prevention Program at Yale. Last summer, she completed an internship for Saving Mothers, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing maternal mortality around the world, and she is currently a research intern at the Center for Equity Research and Innovation ( Eric) from the Yale School of Medicine.
Through it all, Akinwunmi became passionate about advocating for health equity for all.
“Working and studying underserved communities has shaped my interest in health equity, including the importance of ensuring that research produced by the CDC and other organizations is inclusive – that its subjects are representative of the populations that ‘they try to serve,’ Akinwunmi said. .
Her senior thesis examines how colonial and postcolonial economic policies in Nigeria affected access to maternal health services.
“I learned that Nigeria, unfortunately, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world,” Akinwunmi said.
This summer, Akinwunmi will continue her research for ERIC, then complete her final year at the School of Public Health in the joint BA/MPH program. She will then apply to medical school, with the aim of specializing in emergency medicine.
“I am grateful for the opportunities I had to live a full life at Yale while pursuing a career in medicine,” Akinwunmi said.