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Rabiat Ajao

College: Hostos Community College
Awards: 2016 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-New York Academic Awards, 2016

A Car Crash Steered Her Toward Medicine

When she was a child in Nigeria, Rabiat Ajao (Hostos Community College, '16) had the misfortune to be hit by a car while riding a motorcycle. She was rushed to the hospital, "but I never got adequate care" and could neither walk nor go to school for three months.

Flash forward to when she became ill during her senior year at a Bronx public high school. Her father, whom she had emigrated to be with in 2008 when she was 11, took her to a hospital, and the experience was totally different. "I was treated very well. I loved that my doctor communicated with me with respect and took very good care of me."

The contrast between those experiences played a role in her decision about a career. Ajao determined to become a nurse practitioner and, "if I get the opportunity, go back to Nigeria. I would like to make a difference in my country."

She always has worked hard academically, and this year she won induction into the Phi Theta Kappa national honor society for community college students. The organization recognizes both academic achievements and community service.

Ajao says she chose Hostos because it was a small college. It proved to offer personalized support.

"At Hostos, I felt like the students treat each other as one family," she says. She singles out her Anatomy and Physiology II instructor, adjunct lecturer Kadiri Oluwakemi, who "supported and inspired me with her passion for her career, and she encouraged me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. To this day she is still in contact to confirm that I am doing well in school."

She found a great deal of satisfaction through participation in the Hostos Student Leadership Academy's Student Ambassador Program. She spent more than 40 hours volunteering to plant trees in local parks, visiting senior citizens, helping students get acclimated to college life and feeding the hungry in soup kitchens.

Ajao is now taking nursing prerequisite courses at Lehman College, such as anatomy, physics, chemistry, psychology and nutrition. She has set her sights on a bachelor's degree in nursing and then a doctorate. "I love working with children, so I want to go into pediatric care," she says.

Her sister, Kikelomo Ajao, who finishes her baccalaureate degree coursework at Medgar Evers College in December and graduates next June, intends to become a physician.