Dreams are the desires of our subconscious mind. We all have dreams, but some people usually give up on chasing their dreams after encountering obstacles.
Dr. Nneka Asuai Iyonmahan is an exceptional and determined woman who pursued her passion for medicine despite all the disappointments and delays. She shares her story of resilience with Iya Magazine.
“My name is Nneka Asuai Iyonmahan, and I was born in Sapele in the early 1990s. I’m the first in a family of five daughters.
While growing up, my parents were the major influence I had. They were very strict and religious. Back then, I wasn’t comfortable with some of the family rules and regulations, but as I got older, I understood that they did everything out of love.
UNIBEN twice refused to give me admission to read medicine, even after a good degree in Human Anatomy!
I was not born with a silver spoon. Back then, my dad was working with the African Timber and Plywood Company, which was located in Sapele. He later got another job at Eku Baptist Government Hospital, still in Delta State. Meanwhile, my mother has always been a school teacher, and she is currently lecturing at Delta State University.
The first school I attended was the Holy Child Nursery and Primary School in Delta State. I also went to Merit Mixed Secondary School, Sapele, before proceeding to the University of Port Harcourt, where I obtained a degree in Human Anatomy.
Becoming a medical doctor
While growing up, my career dream was to become either a doctor or a TV presenter. But I was more passionate about studying medicine. When I wrote my first UTME, I scored 275, but I don’t know why I couldn’t ace the University of Benin screening test. So, my admission request was declined.
I was really disappointed, and it was during that period that I heard that the University of Port Harcourt was offering a pre-degree programme. Since I didn’t want to waste any time at home, I enrolled in it.
I have always known that I was created to save lives
Most of the basic students were aspiring to gain admission into the Department of Medicine. So, I knew I needed to work hard. I read my books to the point that I was experiencing severe migraines. I never missed a class. In fact, I did my best, but when the school admission list came out, I wasn’t selected to study medicine. Instead, I was offered human anatomy.
According to a Solomonic proverb, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Although that wasn’t the course I wanted, I was encouraged to give it a shot. My senior colleagues even told me that if I could get at least a 4.00 CGPA in my year one results, then I would be eligible to switch to the Department of Medicine.
When I heard that, my hope was revived, and I worked harder. At the end of the first year, my results were excellent. Unfortunately, by then, the change of department option was no longer available. So, I continued my studies and graduated with excellent grades.
Everyone has a calling in life. For me, I have always known that I was created to save lives. So, I didn’t want to give up on my dreams. After my first degree programme, I applied for direct entry into the University of Benin, and for the second time, my application was unsuccessful.
When my mom heard about it, she encouraged me to write the Delta State University direct entry examination, and when I did, I was admitted.
During my time in medical school, I experienced both academic and financial challenges. While some of my former coursemates were already travelling overseas or running businesses, I was still struggling to pass my examinations. I got married while I was still in school, and my internship was delayed due to pregnancy.
Juggling the responsibilities of being a wife, mother, and intern was very challenging. There were days when I was so stressed out and depressed. However, one thing that kept me going was my passion and dedication.
Even as a mother, you can still chase your dreams, build a successful business, connect with people, and make an impact
There is one case that I will never forget. The patient had chronic kidney disease and was also diabetic. I was on duty when I got an emergency call to see the patient. While I was examining her, suddenly, her blood pressure dropped, her pulse was almost faint, and she started gasping for breath.
It was very obvious that she was dying. So, I quickly performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It was a very tense moment, and deep inside my heart, I was praying to God to save her. A few minutes later, her blood pressure and pulse normalised, and she became stable.
To be frank, that was the first time I ever did CPR, and the patient survived. So, for me, it was a self-fulfilling moment.
I’m proud of my profession because it allows me to positively touch lives. My future career goal is to become a medical consultant before I turn 37. I also want to have a business empire and improve my public speaking skills.
I’m a very busy woman. Sometimes, I spend some days at my workplace before returning home. So, whenever I’m less busy, I enjoy bonding with my family. I have two kids now, and by the grace of God, I’m also doing well as a parent.
Another thing I enjoy is listening to gospel music. Such music rejuvenates me and draws me closer to God. If I had the opportunity to meet a public figure, I would like to meet the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Many women give up their dreams for their families. My dear sister, I want to remind you of the ambitions you had when you were still single.
Even as a mother, you can still chase your dreams, build a successful business, connect with people, and make an impact. Don’t forget that you have the strength to be anything you want to be if you put your heart into it. So, go out there and make it happen.