Emmanuel Idehen-Ovabor’s mother, Maureen, worked as a pharmacist when he was very young. Later, she started her own business, an African-centric salon and retail store, on Main Street in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where Idehen-Ovabor grew up.
Now, the Honors College student is majoring in business management while completing his pre-med requirements, inspired by his mom to pursue both health care and business. He plans to go on for an accelerated master’s degree in health care management and then attend medical school to become a pediatrician.
“My mother was always a central figure for me, my role model. She was such a hard worker – I got my work ethic from her,” he says. “As a Nigerian immigrant, she set up shop on Main Street in America’s hometown.”
Idehen-Ovabor’s work ethic and his passion for helping underserved groups, especially children, led him to get involved in numerous organizations and opportunities. The summer after his first year of college, he got licensed as both a certified nursing assistant and an EMT to learn about patient care and get experience. He works for the campus Emergency Medical Services.
He joined the Medical Profession Admission Gap Initiative and Collaboration (MAGIC) his sophomore year, where he found a supportive community of pre-med students along with tutoring in organic chemistry. He serves on the board of a related student group, Advocates of Health Equity for Minorities.
His junior year, he worked for JumpStart, a literacy program for preschool children from low-income neighborhoods.
He has written sports columns and op-eds on the Black Lives Matter movement for The Connector, the student newspaper. And he serves on the “Safe Spaces of Solace” task force for the Black Leadership Advisory Council, which is working on practical ways to help Black students feel more comfortable and cared for on campus.
“I really care about underrepresented and underprivileged communities, and helping them to succeed,” he says.
As a rising senior, he’s working at MEDScience, a summer program on the campus of Harvard Medical School that introduces science and medicine to high school students through hands-on activities, including intubating dummy “patients.” Idehen-Ovabor did the program the summer before he started college and applied to be an intern the following summer, inspired by one of the interns he met.
“I enjoyed my time so much,” he says. “One of the interns was a Haitian guy a year older than me, and he’d pull me aside and talk to me and ask, ‘How are you doing?’ I really admired him, so I thought, ‘Maybe I could do what he’s doing.’”
Now in his third year with the program, Idehen-Ovabor is the senior intern for MEDScience, working with nurse practitioners to train and supervise the younger interns.
He’s also doing research for the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs on the mental health of students of color, especially those who had to study remotely their first year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s part of an effort to identify and help relieve some of their anxieties about coming to campus for the first time, he says.
For his Honors College capstone, Idehen-Ovabor plans to do research, advised by Business Asst. Teaching Prof. Olga Tines, on how hospitals were affected financially by the pandemic, including “which departments took the biggest hits and which programs had to close down,” he says.
Ultimately, he hopes to work at a community health center or in a similar setting “on the ground” in Boston.
“I really care for others,” he says. “Empathy is something I value, and I am also involved in church, and those factors constantly motivate me to serve and advocate for underrepresented communities.”