Stories That Touch

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BRIEF PROFILE:
Bennet Omalu is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

HIS STORY:
Bennet Omalu was born in Nnokwa, Idemili South, Anambra in southeastern Nigeria, in September 1968. The sixth of seven siblings, He was born during the Nigerian Civil War, which caused his family to flee from their home in Enugu-Ukwu . They returned to their village two years after Omalu’s birth.

Omalu’s mother was a seamstress and his father a civil mining engineer and community leader in Enugu-Ukwu. Bennet had his primary and secondary education in Federal Government College in Enugu. He attended medical school starting at age 16 at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in June 1990, he completed a clinical internship, followed by three years of service work doctoring in the mountainous city of Jos. He became disillusioned with Nigeria after presidential candidate, Moshood Abiola failed to win the Nigerian presidency following an inconclusive election in 1993 and He began to search for scholarship opportunities in the United States.

Today, Bennet Omalu is an internationally acclaimed Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist, and neuropathologist who is regarded as the first to discover and publish findings of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by examining American football players while working at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh.

Excited that He had made a life saving discovery, He reached out to the NFL. Instead of recognition and partnership to help him further his research, they threatened him and ordered him to retract his ground breaking research. They saw his work as a threat to the NFL, as a threat to the game. In the midst of the brouhaha, His wife lost her pregnancy, and He had to relocate to another state. Undaunted, Omalu continued his research and In the end, His work was recognized as truly life saving, wining him accolades.

He who was from an extremely poor background and family rose to the top of his career, bagging several awards and degrees.

Omalu holds eight advanced degrees and board certifications, later receiving: fellowships in pathology and neuropathology through the University of Pittsburgh in 2000 and 2002 respectively, a Masters in Public Health (MPH) & Epidemiology in 2004 from University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in 2008.

Omalu is currently chief medical examiner of San Joaquin County, California and is a professor in the UC Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.

WHY WE CHOSE HIM:
We chose Benet Omalu as our feature on this week’s episode of ‘stories that touch’ because Omalu never allowed his background to put his back on the ground. The fact that He was from a poor background could have discouraged him, instead, it made him stronger. Omalu did not relent in his educational career and he sought for and seized opportunities till He became successful.
The incredibly inspiring story of his life has now been adapted into a 2015 movie starring Will Smith: CONCUSSION.

LESSON:
Regardless of where you are from, your dreams are valid. Never, ever give up on your dreams, go all out to pursue your dreams. If you can dream it, you can do it. Who knows, maybe the next Hollywood blockbuster will be based on the story of your life.

Touched by his story? Let us know what your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you.

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