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Divine Nwafor
Undergraduate Degree:
Biochemistry major and a Biology minor, West Virginia University

1. What made you want to get your MD/PhD degree at WVU?

I went to undergraduate school here and was already familiar with the School of Medicine from my neuroscience research. I knew the structure and value of the education here at WVU. I also like the school’s mission to rural health and the global medicine program. I like how medicine can make a difference and how WVU makes it more accessible to West Virginians and the citizens of the United States.

2. What made the program so appealing?

I liked the emphasis on Rural Medicine and Global Health. It emphasizes the key points that I like about medicine. I also like the ultrasound curriculum that is attached to the second semester of the first year. I also like the international rotations and how the school cares about what they are teaching you and what you are learning.

3. What is your favorite part of the program?

I like the interest groups especially how diverse they are. You can pick one or go to as many as you want. You get to learn not just in a classroom setting, but from others who are already in the field. In the surgery interest group you get to practice surgical techniques. It is a step forward and you get to engage and stimulate your interest in medicine.

4. What makes the Morgantown Campus unique from the others?

I was originally assigned to the Eastern Campus, but I switched with a classmate who has family in that area. I also want to be a part of the MD/PhD program and it is here in Morgantown. I like Eastern, but in Morgantown you have opportunities for more residency programs. You get to meet the residents and fellows and network. They can write letters of recommendation for you. The downfall is that you do not get as much first-hand experience since there are more residents and fellows. There are more people trying to learn and they all want to practice.

5. What made you want to become a doctor?

I was inspired as a child when I was in the Red Cross Society. It got me more involved in medicine since it was first aid and being in a group. It got me interested in Neurosurgery. It is fascinating and we don’t know a lot about it since there is always more to learn. I can help bridge the gap between medicine and research.

6. How do you balance your home, school, and social life?

I feel like I have a good balance. You try and get as much done as you can and do not procrastinate. Make a schedule and follow it, but make sure that you have time for other stuff so you get a break. Keep yourself balanced and well rounded. Keep the extracurricular activities for the betterment of your education.

7. What kind of research did you do in your undergraduate studies?

I have a website for my research. I worked on Moth in neuroscience. I was looking at the pathways and connections between them. The human brain has many more connections, but I was looking at the neuron's looking for connections between Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The first systems that is lost in the ability to smell. We were trying to figure out how diseases originate and the pathways.

8. What do you think about the school's community service requirements?

I think that every medical school should implement this requirement. It is not just about studying. You need to be involved in the communities that you are treating patients in. You need to know the atmosphere and environment of your patents and doing service gives you that.

9. You went on a medical trip to Cape Town, South Africa. Did that experience help you in medical school?

It was a wonderful experience. It helped me since I was going to a different country and it actually inspired my love of neurosurgery. I worked as an intern with the residents and surgeons. It was motivation for me on why I love this and why this is what I want to do.

10. What are your goals after graduating?

I would like to get into a really good residency program. Right now I want to get into the MD/PhD program at WVU. I want to be involved in the research side as well as the patient care side. I want to do more research on ALS and work with patients that I would be treating in neurosurgery. If I could implement research into my practice that would be even better.

11. What is your favorite thing to do outside of school?

I like to play soccer. We have a class weekly thing that we do and call students from other years as well. We play pickup soccer. There are other leagues in the area too. I also like to travel.

12. Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about medical school?

My first advice is to shadow people so you know what medicine is really like. Secondly you need to make sure that you can handle the curriculum. You also need to be able to see yourself doing this 10 years from now. Enjoy the process. It is difficult, but being involved shows you why you want to be involved in medicine. Make sure you keep up with your extracurricular activities as well.

- Interviewed as an M1 student in March 2016