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Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

The Nigerian native was moved to study dentistry by her father's suffering

For Nigerian native Amaka Amakwe, the future holds an introduction to yet another part of the U.S., as she nears her goal of becoming a dentist. Come fall 2012, Amakwe will begin classes at the University of Connecticut School of Dentistry, attending on a full scholarship.

It shouldn’t be a hard adjustment for the Nigerian native and transplanted Texan, who recalls the moment she knew she had adjusted to life in the Garden State. “I went back to Houston to visit family, and felt like everything was moving slower there, compared to here.”

Amakwe expected cultural differences between her homeland and the U.S., but was surprised by the Texas/New Jersey culture shocks. In Texas, the pre-dental student had to learn to drive, then had to drive everywhere –something she doesn’t miss as she rides mass transit here.  Jersey’s summer heat isn’t as oppressive as in Houston –or in Lagos, Nigeria, for that matter.  And for Amakwe the hustle of New Jersey life was an eye-opener.

Having family already living in the U.S. eased her transition, as did meeting and marrying a New York City native.  She also credits the strong support services at R-N and the many friendships she has forged, especially with other African students.

Amakwe was motivated to take up dentistry by memories of watching her father suffer from a tooth problem back in Nigeria, and postpone care until the pain was unbearable, since dental services are not easily available.

Amakwe, who majored in biology while minoring in chemistry at R-N, is looking ahead.  She thrives on a sense of organization and order, and plans to incorporate those traits into the first phase of her dental career: caring for military veterans at a government hospital – before eventually establishing a private oral surgery practice.