Tell me a little bit about yourself and your passions?
My name is Chizom Ekpunobi, I’m a 21 year old who was born and raised in Nigeria. I came to the U.S for school and that has opened me to a lot of different things. I am passionate about so many things. I am passionate about helping people become better by being a positive influence and a good example. I love giving back and making sure that people who come in contact with me are better off. Family means everything to me and then some and most importantly, I am passionate about God and my relationship with him.
What is it like for you interacting between cultures?
I absolutely love interacting with people from different cultures. If I’m in a room with people from Spain, Saudi Arabia, Germany and about 3 Nigerians, I’ll probably say hi to the Nigerians and quickly move over to the people from different countries because I want to learn different things about them and their countries. Right from when I was about 4 years old, my family and I used to go on vacation every year to different countries so I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of cultures from a tender age. Also, schooling in the states has given me the opportunity to meet and interact with not only americans, but also people from different countries. I am absolutely thrilled when I have the opportunity to meet someone who is from a different country than I am because I know I’m going to learn how to say ‘Hello’ and ‘Thank you’ in a different language.
Can you discuss the circumstances that led to your career and some challenges you have overcome?
I lost my grandfather in 2009 just before he could see me graduate from high school. The only thing that hurt me more than losing somebody that meant the entire world to me was knowing the fact that he didn’t have to die. He could have still been alive if not for the fatal mistakes of a so called Pharmacist.
Growing up, my passion has always been helping people out. I was never comfortable being around people who needed help without offering to do so. As I got older, I realized that I loved being in the hospital, especially when I’m not the one who’s sick. I enjoyed playing with the stethoscopes and running around the hospital in lab coats. When it was time for me to start thinking about career choices, I knew I wanted to be a doctor. I had particular interest in the brain and nervous system so I wanted to be a Neurosurgeon. There weren’t many female Neurosurgeons in my country at that time so I wanted to be one of the few female Neurosurgeons in my country.
When my grandfather died and I learned he died from being prescribed the wrong dose of the wrong drug, my heart sank. I started doing research on Pharmacies in my country to see which other good Pharmacy he could have gone to in order to get the right medications. It was then I found out that he had gone to one of the best Pharmacies in the country and that happened. In my country, many people die because they cannot afford to make a deposit to the hospital and they don’t get treated because of that. The next best alternative is to go to the nearest Pharmacy or Chemist and get whatever they’re told. It was then I knew I had to do something. Being one of the few female Neurosurgeons in my country would have been a big achievement for me but being one of the few, very well educated Pharmacists who can help save more lives of people who die from the most minute illnesses will be a great achievement to many.
I decided to go to Shell Oil Company’s hospital in Nigeria to intern as a Pharmacist because it is one of the best hospitals in my country and I knew I would be able to get the proper hands-on experience I needed to know if Pharmacy will indeed be a great profession for me. I worked there for ten weeks and honestly, I loved it. I believe that reading and understanding the doctor’s handwriting should be a course on it’s own. Lol.
Along the line, you can kind of say I caught the entrepreneurial bug. I loved reading books on Entrepreneurship and watching Shark Tank on TV but never really thought I would have my own business until I got the ideas for my tech, oil and gas company Peernergy, my unreleased app CLIP and my jewelry line MARGOT which I will be launching soon. I have so many exciting things I’m working on which I cannot share right now for some reasons.
Of course, being a student in a medical profession is hard enough of its own. Now, with the added stress of trying to start a company and launch so many things, I barely have time for myself. There are times when I’ve needed to be somewhere for business but I couldn’t because I had a big test in school. Things like these really slow down processes.
If you could solve a world problem what would it be?
Is suicide considered a world problem? Suicide and poverty would be world problems I could solve completely if I could but best believe that I’m doing my part with the little I have. My jewelry line was founded with the intent to help reduce suicide rate, especially with people in my age group. I do give back to the society and when I’m where I want to be, I plan on starting my own foundation which I could use to help bring people out of poverty.
What advice would you give the youth out there looking to blaze their own path?
Uhhhhh…. Let me see… Find your passion. Don’t worry if you haven’t really figured out what you’re passionate about just yet, in time you will. Whether you decide to have a professional career or be an Entrepreneur, whatever it is you want to do, it will not be easy so don’t give up. I believe in the power of networking so go out there, meet people who have similar goals, passion and blueprint like you do and exchange ideas. You never know what you can get out of that. Life isn’t only about what you know but also who you know. Find someone who has made it, the person doesn’t necessarily have to be in your field because I believe that successful people have principles that guide them and they’re the same across the board. Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams enough!
Now at UYD, we are always looking to find out different ways people use their difference to make a difference. How do you use your difference to make a difference?
For me, I have figured that because I have a different accent from what Americans are used to, people tend to be a lot more interested in me and what I have to say. So, I use that to get through to people and after everything, they then ask, “Where are you from?” and then I tell them Nigeria and they are even more interested.
I have used my having a different accent and being from a different country to push myself forward because I know I’m unique and positively different.
Where can we find out more about you and what you’re up to?
My twitter is – @Mstweetah
Instagram – @Chizom
Cyber Dust – +Chizom
Facebook – Chizom Ekpunobi
and my blog is at – www.manyareresponsible.blogspot.com