International Student Carves Her Own Path

May 15, 2013 | Alicia Duplessis Jasmin

Uchenna Onwuegbusi

Uchenna Onwuegbusi, candidate for a dual degree, is preparing for medical school this fall. Her family back home in Nigeria is cheering her on. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)

Uchenna Onwuegbusi is the type of student who chooses a challenge over the easy route. This very trait led her from Nigeria to Tulane University, where she graduates this spring with dual degrees in biomedical engineering and physics.

When selecting her major, Onwuegbusi says choosing a subject that she was more familiar with would have been the easier route to accomplishing her ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. Physics and engineering, on the other hand, would take some hard work.

“I wanted to take up the challenge,” says Onwuegbusi. “It was difficult and I even doubted myself, but fortunately I had some great professors to help me along the way.”

Onwuegbusi also has a strong support system back home in Nigeria’s Lagos State. Her father (a lawyer), her mother (a caterer), and five younger sisters are cheering from afar. Two of her sisters are in high school, two are in college and one is currently in law school.

Attending a university near her family also would have been easier. Instead, Onwuegbusi journeyed some 6,000 miles to Louisiana.

“My decisions were based on my thinking as an international student,” says Onwuegbusi. “I was told that medical school was difficult to get into, so I needed to have something substantial to fall back on in case medical school didn’t work out.”

But it did. She has been accepted to the Howard University College of Medicine.

Onwuegbusi’s dual degree is the result of a collaboration between Tulane University and Xavier University of Louisiana. During the five-year program, she completed engineering degree requirements at Tulane and physics degree requirements at Xavier.

She will be awarded two bachelor's degrees — one in biomedical engineering from Tulane and the other in physics from Xavier. For more information about this degree program, contact Beth Wee.

Lindy Boggs Center Suite 500, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5897