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Pre-med student motivated to provide healthcare in her native country

Itunujesu Olonade's dreams for the future have arisen from harsh realities and her mother's inspiration. "Seeing my mom work with widows and orphans who are victims of the HIV and AIDS epidemic made me want to follow in her footsteps," says Olonade, '16, a biology major from Nigeria.

Olonade's mother founded the SMILE Initiative, which assists those afflicted by the HIV/AIDs epidemic with emotional, spiritual and financial support. SMILE also hosts workshops for women to gain skills that they use to support their families, and sponsors orphans to attend school.

After graduating from Whitworth, Olonade plans to attend medical school. Her long-term goal is to start a non-profit foundation for women in Nigeria. She would like to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology because of her interest in women's health, and because she sees a lack of females in that field. "I am fascinated by the healthcare world, especially women's health, which isn't a primary focus in my country," she says.

In addition to Olonade's pre-med studies at Whitworth, she is involved in student-body leadership. As a resident assistant in Stewart Hall this year, Olonade says she has experienced great personal growth by being more involved with the Whitworth community, which she finds very welcoming.

"I love the opportunity to meet people and be a part of building the Whitworth community," she says. "Being an RA at Whitworth has given me more self-confidence and has helped me develop personally, spiritually and professionally."

Olonade also finds herself growing culturally through her experience with Whitworth's International Club.

"I really admire the effort Whitworth makes to recruit international students," she says. "Most importantly, I admire the efforts to make us feel united as students during our time here."