Lota Ojiako

Your race at birth is a factor you cannot control.

You don’t get to choose your family, social or economic status when you are born.

Fate makes the decision to place you where it wills.

However, you can choose to make a positive difference in your community and society at large.

You can defy the odds, language, appearance, status and carve a way to be a change agent, a catalyst for a better world for all.

I am Lota Ojiako, a Nigerian Immigrant, a wife, a mother of 6 children and a physician. I have worked with Advocate Aurora for the past 19 years and during my time with Advocate I have seen first hand the power of representation.

I believe in the power of community and I am a fierce advocate for change.

Blacks are heavily underrepresented in STEM. We live in a  world where STEM is the face of the present and future, no community can afford to be left behind.

This is my motivation  in creating Zebralter Medical . A  501c3 non profit organization dedicated to connecting Black Scientists to communities of Color and beyond.

As a Religious Ed teacher for over 10 years I have seen the ability to expand minds and mould children when we start teaching at a young age.

Zebralter Medical believes what you see, you aspire to.

Our vision is a nation where Black Scientists are the norm rather than the unexpected

Where children are exposed to Science at an early age and see careers in STEM as a viable career option.

Not every child will want a career in Science, however it matters that those who desire to, know they can find mentors  and see there’s space for them in the world of Science. Our free health care app does just that. MELANIN MEDICAL SPECIALTIES is available on Google Play and Apple Store.

With pages of Black Healthcare providers, leaving valuable success tips, we inspire children to start early to consider STEM careers. No one person can do it alone. Your support is invaluable.

We invite you to let others know about Zebralter Medical, subscribe to our youtube channel “Zebralter Medical” Download our free Healthcare App, “Melanin Medical Specialties” available on Apple Store and Google Play. If you are a Black Healthcare professional, take time to upload your information, and share your personal success tip.

If your financial situation allows you to please leave a Tax deductible donation. Your monetary gift will leave things better for this generation and beyond.

Thank you in advance,
Lota Ojiako

Ndidi Ojiako

Medical Student, Medical College of Wisconsin

I am Ndidi Ojiako, a first generation Nigerian and a graduate of the University of Illinois who is also from Burr Ridge, Illinois.

I majored in Integrative Biology with a minor in Creative writing. Poised to attend Medical school at Wisconsin Medical College in August of 2022

While in college, I was President and Treasurer of Salongo Black Student Union an experience that honed my leadership skills, and taught me new ways of leading during a pandemic

As an executive Board Member and Tutor at Vis-a-Vis UIUC, I read to grade school children and realized that reading is a tool that allows you to dream and create experiences you may never have had before. This experience became one of the highpoints of my college years as I got to know my students and fall in love with reading all over again

I was also a recipient of Wilmer E. Hellenthal Scholarship, given to premedical students for academic excellence. With this award, iit helped spur me on to continue working hard towards my dreams of becoming a doctor.

As a recipient of the President Award for historically underrepresented groups who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, I realized that my goals of doing well in college had been fulfilled and I understand even more now that with the right support you can do more than you dared dream. I look forward to paying it forward not just in my community but in every space I find myself in.

I was also a Recipient of Black Alumni Network Scholarship, given to a full-time student with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

This award opened the door to Zebralter Medical, as we went on to create an annual partnership with BAN to continue a tradition of awards to students on the Science track. Helping us further our goal of increasing diversity in STEM

I completed my undergraduate degree as a Member of the 2022 Senior 100 Award.

An award given to the top 100 students in the graduating class of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign out of more than 7,000 students.

As I look back, I am grateful to UIUC for all it has taught me and the life experiences I garnered.

In many of my STEM classes, students that looked like me were less than 3% and in some classes none.

These experiences showed me first hand the urgency of the work at hand and the need for more representation.

I am delighted to be part of Zebralter Medical, a Nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the gap in STEM.

I will bring my passion to make a difference, skills as a community leader and firsthand knowledge of what we can do differently to make Science an option for my community.

Ngozi Ezike MD

Ngozi Ezike MD began serving as President and CEO of Sinai Chicago, the largest private safety net health system in the state of Illinois, in June 2022. She is the immediate past Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). She valiantly navigated the state through the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr. Ezike is a board-certified internist and pediatrician, who worked at Cook County Health, serving for more than 15 years in various direct patient care and administrative roles, including medical directorships at the Austin Health Center and Juvenile Detention Center. She also delivered inpatient care at Stroger Hospital and primary and preventive care in community and school-based clinics. Dr. Ezike is a nationally recognized public health and health leader. In addition to her degrees from Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Dr Ezike holds honorary doctorates from Knox College, Southern Ilinois University, and Rosalind Franklin School of Medicine. She earned a business management certificate from Harvard Business School. She is the recipient of dozens of awards and accolades including the Lester H. McKeever Individual Service Award from the Chicago Urban League, Motorola Civic Service Award, the Jane Addams Medal of Freedom, USA Today’s Inaugural Women of the Year Award and Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Diversity Leaders for 2022.

Following the medical track and becoming a doctor has been the gift that keeps on giving. Serving populations and communities of color or  limited economic resources allows me to give compassion-filled care to those who often do not receive it. Eyes and hearts open widely to imagine careers that were once thought unattainable. My medical degree has opened doors to clinical medicine, resident and student teaching, academic research, public health and healthcare management. I am humbled everyday to be a physician and I want to encourage my younger brothers and sisters to pursue this worthwhile calling with me

Dr Ngozi Ezike
President and CEO
Sinai Chicago

Uche S. Onwuta, MS, MPH

Uche Onwuta, is the director of the Division of Health Protection at Kane County Health Department. An epidemiologist by training, she leads a team of dedicated professionals in the areas of infectious diseases, environmental health and food safety, chronic disease prevention. She lead the COVID-19 contact tracing program, bringing community COVID-19 mobile testing to all areas of Kane County. She also led the community vaccination efforts in Kane County, collaborating with Illinois Department of Public Health to provide vaccination to essential workers in large manufacturing plants and warehouses around the county. She also leads Kane County’s chronic disease prevention and wellness program, and the health department’s Health Equity program. In her previous roles in 24+ years at the Kane County Health Department, she led  efforts in epidemiology, community health assessment and planning, immunizations, suicide prevention and opioid use disorder surveillance programs. Uche is an adjunct instructor at Benedictine University where she has taught courses in Community Health Analysis, Epidemiology, and Public Health Systems. Uche serves on the boards of University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Alumni Association, the UIC School of Public Health Executive Advisory Board as well as the Schaumburg Bank and Trust Board, among others. She volunteers for several organizations including Destiny Global Foundation, a medical missions organization focusing on prevention, treatment, and management of Hypertension and Diabetes Mellitus among the medically underrepresented in Africa; as well as the Aurora African American Health Coalition, providing comprehensive health screenings to underserved communities. Uche is passionate about health equity and encouraging students to consider careers in STEM. Uche has a Master of Science degree in Microbiology (Molecular Biology) and a Master of Public Health degree in Epidemiology. She is passionate about health equity and encouraging students expand their career choice to include STEM. She is a wife and a mother.

Chigo Ojiako

My name is Chigo Ojiako, a current student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I am a dual major in English and Spanish, as well as a minor in Criminology, Law & Society. My goal is to pursue a career in Law. I enjoy being involved on campus, as I serve as the co-programming chair for African Cultural Association, a campus organization dedicated to spreading the beauty of African culture across campus.

I am also a member of Pre-Law Honors Society, an organization open to those with a 3.5 GPA or above. It is a fulfilling club, as you get to interact with like-minded people that want to pursue law and also get exposure to LSAT workshops, law school application tips, and more.

I also participate in the Liberal Arts and Sciences Honors Program. This program gives you opportunities to get more involved with your specific college through volunteering, fun events, and academic activities. It is also open to those with a GPA of 3.5 or more, and  is unique in that it also grants you Honors recognition at the time of graduation.

Currently, I serve as a Resident Advisor (RA) on campus. This has given me much purpose because I get to be a live-in resource and community leader for first year students in their transition to college. I also aid in resolving conflict, facilitating floor events, and teaching my residents about important topics like social justice initiatives and academic resources.

When I look around in my classes, I don’t see too many people that look like me. We are still underrepresented in many fields, like law, education, social sciences, and most especially in STEM.

Seeing the lack of representation firsthand is one of the many reasons why I am so thrilled to be part of Zebralter Medical, a Nonprofit organization dedicated to shedding more light on Black Scientists.

I hope to bring my academic passion as well as skills in leadership to make a difference in the STEM community and to create increased awareness of Zebralter Medical’s message that “Science is an option”.

Chigo Ojiako
English & Spanish Major: Criminology Minor

Nnenna Ezeilo MD

Hello there,

I am glad you made the decision to visit Zebralter Medical, a non-profit organization that connects Black Scientists to communities of Color and beyond. I am Nnenna Ezeilo, a physician and surgeon in the field of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, more commonly known as Ear, Nose and Throat [ENT] surgery.

Born and raised in Nigeria, I was fortunate to grow up in a household with a physician father. Therefore, I knew my dreams were valid and that I too could become a doctor based on my father’s example. After I completed secondary school, I moved to the United States, where I completed my undergraduate degree, medical school, and surgical training. While applying for ENT residency, I remember scouring the websites of residency programs searching for resident physician faces that looked like mine. I wanted to have a sense that I was not alone on this journey to becoming a black, female ENT surgeon. Representation matters. Along my journey, there were moments of frustrations and doubt. However, I remained encouraged by my parents, mentors, and friends; my community kept me grounded. I strive to practice an “Each one, teach one” approach. I have mentored black medical student and residents alike, as they navigate their journey in medicine and provide an affirmation of their experiences.

To the aspiring physician or scientist, I would like to remind you that a “journey of a thousand miles [truly does] begin with one step.” There are many paths to achieve your goal of becoming a physician or scientist, so do not be discouraged by a circuitous or non-traditional route. I believe these are all life experiences that will help make you a better physician and scientist.

Nnenna Ezeilo MD

Dr. Olayinka Adekugbe DMD, MPH, MSC

Dr. Olayinka Adekugbe, works in the field of public health dentistry. She has a rich educational background and a passion for making a positive impact on oral health, particularly among vulnerable immigrant populations. Her academic journey spans across multiple prestigious institutions, reflecting her dedication to advancing her expertise in dental public health.

She began her academic journey by earning a Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree from Nigeria, laying the foundation for her career in dentistry. Subsequently, she pursued a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from New York University (NYU), where she gained insights into population-based approaches to healthcare, crucial for addressing public health challenges.

Building upon her MPH, Dr. Olayinka further specialized in Dental Public Health by obtaining a Master of Science (MSC) degree from the University of Iowa. This specialization equipped her with the knowledge and skills necessary to address oral health issues at a community and population level, emphasizing preventive strategies and health promotion.

Continuing her academic journey, Dr. Olayinka pursued a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from Boston University, complementing her public health expertise. This expertise enables her to understand even more the broader public health implications of oral health.

Throughout her career, Dr. Olayinka has been deeply involved in community outreach and advocacy efforts aimed at promoting oral health awareness and access, particularly among underserved immigrant communities in Iowa. Her work with non-profit organizations, grant writing endeavors, and publication of peer-reviewed papers underscore her commitment to advancing oral health equity and diversity in the dental profession.

Outside of her professional endeavors, Dr. Olayinka enjoys writing and cherishes spending quality time with her family and loved ones.

Overall, Dr. Olayinka’s multidisciplinary background, coupled with her dedication to public service and advocacy, aligns with Zebralter Medical objectives of encouraging careers in STEM within the BIPOC communities and more.