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Celebrating the Class of 2017: Chiamara Anokwute

Future physician is youngest member of this year’s graduating class

Monday May 01, 2017


Chiamara Anokwute, 20, of Merrillville, graduates May 11 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and minors in chemistry and psychology.

Anokwute holds the title of youngest graduating member of the Class of 2017. His birthday just days shy of Commencement Day, Anokwute is earning his diploma in just three years.

He has maintained a stellar grade point average while also serving as president of the Student Government Association and participating in an assortment of other extracurricular activities, like the Cross Country team. He has even occasionally donned IU Northwest’s Rufus the RedHawk costume.

An immigrant from Nigeria, Anokwute is the youngest of six siblings. He is the fifth to graduate from IU Northwest and the fifth to pursue medicine.

He is doing so through a full scholarship, which rewards his commitment to pursue both his undergraduate and medical degrees at IU Northwest. Although he was accepted to other schools, this generous scholarship succeeded in persuading him to pursue his medical degree right here at IU School of Medicine’s Northwest campus.

Anokwute took full advantage of this opportunity, taking classes and doing research in the summer every year. He hopes his path to becoming a doctor will one day take him to third-world countries, or perhaps, keep him in the U.S., treating and healing patients of lower income communities.

To prepare for his future, Anokwute conducted microbiology research at the medical school alongside Associate Professor Ted Bae, and with Assistant Professor Jenny Fisher in IU Northwest’s biology department. He is currently working in Fisher’s lab as a Minority Opportunity for Research Experience (MORE) fellow.

Fisher called Anokwute “an exemplary model of how students can benefit uniquely from the IU Northwest experience.”

“He shows a great understanding of the work and an eagerness to learn more. He has been a wonderful role model for the students in my lab, sharing his knowledge and laboratory experience with them,” Fisher said.

Anokwute has also participated in the medical school’s International Human Cadaver Prosection Program, a rare opportunity for volunteers to learn about human anatomy and more at a summer program of the medical school.

Anokwute says these are opportunities he would not have the access to at larger schools, and one of the reasons why he feels that IU Northwest has truly prepared him to apply to, and succeed in, medical school. He will be spending the next year preparing for the next step in his journey, and continuing his medical research.

About the Class of 2017: Indiana University Northwest will confer 643 degrees at the 51st Annual Commencement ceremonies on May 11, 2017. The Class of 2017 will collectively receive 64 associate’s degrees, 532 bachelor’s degrees and 47 master’s degrees. Sixty-nine percent of this year’s graduating class are female and nearly 25 percent are over the age of 30. The most numerous degree to be granted is the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology followed by the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The oldest and youngest graduating students are 64 and 20 years of age, respectively.       

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