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Get to Know: Chidinma Onyia

Pharmacy student pursues career after being her grandmother’s primary caregiver

minute read

Written by Kiley Carroll on February 22, 2022
What You Need To Know

Get to know Chidinma Onyia, who is drawn toward the versatility of a PharmD degree and longs to make an impact in Black communities.

In celebration of Black History Month, CU Anschutz is launching the “Get to Know” series to highlight Black excellence on campus year-round – leaders, innovators and change makers who are accomplishing the extraordinary in their fields every day. The “Get to Know” series will expand throughout the year as an inclusive platform for voices on our campus.  

This week, Chidinma Onyia, a Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences student, discusses her goals to uplift people of color and inspire them to pursue the career of their dreams.

Q&A Header

What or who inspired you to pursue a path in pharmacy?

I was inspired to pursue pharmacy because, growing up, I became my grandma’s primary caregiver after she had an invasive surgery. She was on several medications, and I remember being in awe of how a single drug can transform an individual’s health, and I wanted to learn more about how medications work. This led me to want to pursue pharmacy, so I could learn about a myriad of disease states and how to treat each of them. Lastly, I was drawn to the versatility of the profession. There are so many different things I can do with a PharmD (ranging from clinical, managed care/population health to working in the pharmaceutical industry), and I was excited to explore every possible path.

Why do you choose to pursue your goals at CU Anschutz?

I chose CU Anschutz because I really fell in love with how welcoming, intelligent and passionate the professors and students were when I came on my student visit. I could tell that I would be surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the industry. I also loved that the campus was part of a large academic medical center. I knew it would be a great environment to learn, thrive and grow as a pharmacy student.

What gets you out of bed in the morning? What is your WHY? Why do you do this work?

My why is to be able to help people reach their maximum potential, whether it is to make a patient feel better by providing treatment recommendations or mentoring a student on reaching career milestones. I always want to help people succeed and find confidence within themselves.

The celebration of Black History Month in February brings an opportunity to consider one’s impact and legacy. What kind of impact on history do you hope to make?

I really hope to be remembered as a person that defied the odds by taking the unconventional route to find my niche. I specifically want to make an impact in Black communities because oftentimes people from these backgrounds face so many social, educational and health disparities. I want to provide resources to uplift people of color so that they can thrive in their careers and studies. I want Black people to know that they belong anywhere that they envision themselves, even if they may not see or know anyone taking their unique path. I want them to know it’s OK to not align with the status quo and to always be confident in their abilities to know that they belong and will be successful.

What do you do to re-charge and re-inspire yourself when you feel depleted, or when you are working through a challenging situation?

I really love exercising and cooking. When I’m doing these things, I hardly think about anything else, and it’s a great way for me to reset my mind and re-charge. Another thing I love to do is travel. During my breaks and over the weekends, I love to explore new cities and countries around the world. My favorite country that I’ve visited since being in pharmacy school is Cuba.

What is your favorite place in Colorado, and why?

I really love the hot springs in Colorado! I’ve been to a couple in Colorado, but my favorite is the Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs (in Steamboat Springs). It’s so serene, peaceful and picturesque. It’s a great place to go in the winter months as you overlook the snow. Whenever I have friends visit me in Colorado, I always try to take them out to a few hot springs, and they love it.

When it comes to snacks and food indulgences…sweet or savory?

 I’m a savory food lover! This is partly due to my Nigerian heritage. We eat lots of delicious savory food.

Topics: Community, Students,