If one asks Dr. Emeka Ofobike, Jr. what the secret has been to his success, his answer would be one simple word: Attitude. Dr. Ofobike was born in Nigeria, the first-born child in a family which prized the value of education. His parents had overcome significant odds to obtain higher learning, even at the cost of profound emotional sacrifice. In 1980, Dr. Ofobike’s father left Nigeria to pursue graduate studies in the US. The following year, his mother did the same, leaving Emeka and his siblings with his grandparents in Ghana until the family could be reunited. Finally, in 1982, Emeka and his younger siblings arrived in Eugene, OR, to a strange new culture where he looked different and spoke differently than his peers.
The next several years saw Dr. Ofobike’s family moving from Oregon, to Lawrence, KS, and finally arriving in Akron, OH, in 1990. By this time, it was apparent that the laid-back kid with an easy smile had a stubborn determination to excel. Academic success did not come easily for Dr. Ofobike, however. His parents fondly remember how many nights he sat in his room, so frustrated by his math homework that he had tears in his eyes. But he did not give up, and showed a disciplined attitude which eventually enabled him to not only master the material, but to find confidence in himself that he was not aware he had.
In addition to playing soccer, baseball and basketball, Dr. Ofobike developed an interest in social and service-oriented groups. His friendly demeanor and ability to interact with many different groups of students enabled him to be active in student council, serve as co-editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, and participate as an officer of the social awareness group Black United Students all while committing to volunteering at the local Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Ofobike’s dedication to service and leadership only increased as he attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, where he spent two years as a dormitory Learning Assistant, providing educational resources, programming and tips to residents to enable them achieve their academic goals and make them competitive for post-graduate employment. He spent three years as an athletic trainer assisting the Spartans athletes both on the field or court as well as in the training room. His commitment to being a global citizen was demonstrated when he spent a semester abroad in Canberra, Australia, at the Australian National University. While there, he formed close bonds with local students as he learned their culture and exposed them to some of his own. He challenged himself by traveling alone from Queensland to Tasmania, and experimented with activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping and snorkeling (even though he is a terrible swimmer.)
He returned to college with a greater appreciation for exploring and experiencing the world, and encouraged others to leave their particular comfort zone in order to expand their concept of what other countries and cultures have to offer. By the time he graduated from college with a B.A. in psychology and minors in chemistry and sports medicine, he had already been sworn into the United States Navy with the goal of practicing medicine overseas. His commitment to service was renewed on September 11, 2001, when national tragedy changed the mission for what was, until the then, a peace-time Medical Corps.
During medical school, also at Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Ofobike joined Phi Delta Epsilon, an international medical fraternity focused on service and philanthropy. He also spent time as co-president of the Student National Medical Association chapter in addition to being co-director of “Doc Opera,” a student run musical production spoofing medicine and the lives of medical students. He graduated from medical school and was selected to the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honors Fraternity. Spent the next five years training to be an orthopaedic surgeon at the Univeristy of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio, where he graduated in 2008.
Dr. Ofobike now serves his country as an orthopaedic surgeon stationed at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville, FL. He recently returned from a tour of duty in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he spent an emotional six months in what is arguably the most demanding trauma hospital in the Middle East. As part of a multi-national NATO coalition medical unit, he operated with British and American military surgeons on coalition troops, enemy fighters and civilians with life and limb-threatening war wounds, earning a Navy Achievement Medal and NATO campaign medals for his efforts. Lieutenant Commander Ofobike’s next post will be in Okinawa, Japan, where he will be focused on treating U.S. Marines stationed in the Far East.
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