When Emmanuel Dike-Udensi was a first-year student, his peers in third and fourth year would always give him the same warning – that medical school goes by quickly. But Emmanuel was skeptical.

“I didn’t believe them,” he said with a laugh. “Back then, I had so much to study, I couldn’t imagine that.”

Now, as Emmanuel approaches the end of medical school, he said reflecting on the past four years – and how fast they have gone by – is surreal.

His tried and true method for managing the studying, big exams, and clinical rotations was taking the process one day at a time. He will leave the UK College of Medicine feeling proud of what he accomplished.

This includes being an integral part of UK’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), a student organization that supports underrepresented students and addresses needs of underserved communities. The experience connected Emmanuel to numerous volunteering and mentorship opportunities. He helped organize a virtual residency fair connecting underrepresented fourth-year students to UK’s residency programs. During Black History Month and Juneteenth, he curated resources and information to share with the college.

Emmanuel’s work was recognized at the Academic Convocation Awards in October 2021 when he received the Lyman T. Johnson Torch Bearer Award, presented by the UK Alumni Association Lyman T. Johnson African American Alumni Group in partnership with the UK Office for Institutional Diversity. The annual awards program honors African American students and alumni who epitomize the ideals of Johnson, an educator and influential role model for racial desegregation at UK and throughout the state.

One of SNMA’s missions is increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians, which is particularly important to Emmanuel. His family lives in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. By being immersed in many different places, he’s met people of different communities.

“I’d like to be the kind of provider who is socially conscious and culturally humble in taking care of people from all walks of life,” he said.

The next step in achieving that goal is completing his residency training. On Match Day, Emmanuel learned that he matched into his top choice in Chicago. He’ll continue in an internal medicine residency program.

“I know it sounds cliché, but I never really saw myself doing anything else but medicine,” Emmanuel said. Biology was his favorite subject in high school, as well as his undergraduate major. After graduating from college, he spent a few years volunteering, shadowing physicians, working in clinical research, and taking additional science courses toward a graduate degree. He gained initial interest in internal medicine, specifically, after taking the advanced clinical medicine course at the UK College of Medicine, during which he received deeper exposure to the knowledge and skills necessary to develop into an excellent diagnostician regardless of affected body system.

As Emmanuel prepares to graduate from medical school this spring, he now understands how quickly the years go by. In his future career, he plans to cherish each moment that he is able to make a difference for his patients and his community.

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