“I don’t think I deserve this award,” she said. “There are so many people in the community who are working hard to make a difference.”
Despite her modesty, Azumah was honored with a congressional Distinguished Leadership Award and a Community Service Award from the state Senate as well as the Silent Hero Award.
In addition to her medical studies, Azumah, 26, serves as president of a newer campus organization called Africans in Medicine. She also is a student coordinator for the annual PreMed Symposium sponsored by the school’s Admissions Department, as well as an active member of the Black Medical Association/Student National Medical Association. Away from campus, she is a member of the political relations department for her church. She serves as a member of the Michigan Millennials, a new organization established by Gov. Jennifer Granholm to address the state’s “brain drain.” She also volunteers at the free Joy Community Clinic in Southfield.
Azumah, 26, was born in Nigeria, but moved to Taylor, Mich., at age 15. Her mother relocated to the United States and then sent for Azumah and her four siblings.
“My mother moved to the States because she wanted a better life for us. She knew that America is the land of opportunity,” Azumah said. “It was financially difficult for my mother to buy the tickets for five people to come to the States at once, especially since she was being paid minimum wage at that time. It was difficult for her since she had to have two and three jobs to afford it.”
Her transition to the U.S. was eased by high school teachers who supported Azumah and her siblings. “The staff at John F. Kennedy High School in Taylor was very gracious to us. They took us into their arms and helped us transition into our new school,” she said. “I remember a teacher who bought me pop almost every day for the entire semester I was in his class since he knew that my mother never gave me a spending allowance. I was indeed blessed to have had great teachers who ensured that my dream of becoming a physician became a reality.”
After high school, she attended the University of Michigan, where she completed undergraduate studies in general biology and African Studies.
The third-year medical student, who now lives in Detroit, became interested in a career in medicine thanks to a seventh-grade teacher in Nigeria. “I wanted to become an attorney; however, since I was a good science student and had a compassionate disposition, a teacher suggested and highly recommended the medical field. I love medicine with passion. It highly appeals to the humanity in all of us. It is wonderful to be able to bring hope to a sick patient. To heal is an art and a gift.”
Azumah said she elected to attend Wayne State University because of the support the students and staff demonstrate for each other. She was mentored by Silas Norman Jr., M.D., assistant dean of Admissions.
“It was very important to me to have a strong support system,” she said. “I believe the black student body here is very supportive of each other. The staff here is gracious. My counselor, Dr. (Michael) Webber, was here to comfort me through the highs and lows of my medical career. So was the custodian, Thale Adams, who encouraged me to continue to work hard. Coming to WSUSOM was the best decision I have ever made.”
After graduation and residency, Azumah plans to practice medicine in Detroit. “Detroit is my home while I am here in the States. Her issues remind me of my country, Nigeria, or probably issues many countries in Africa are also trying to reconcile.”
While undecided about a specialty, Azumah is learning toward obstetrics and gynecology.
“I went into medicine because I truly want to serve my community, thus, when I came into medical school, I couldn't stop serving my community,” Azumah said. “I believe in the speech by President John F. Kennedy: ‘Ask not what your country will do for you, rather ask what can I do for my country.’ I bring it closer to home by asking ‘What can Ebere do for her community?’"