Chance Meeting with ASU President Fuels Graduate’s Goal To Continue Medical Journey

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By Hazel Scott/ASU

“It’s a powerful feeling to know that the President of your alma mater, of one of the greatest HBCUs in the nation, wants to say hello.”

This sentiment came from a biology-PreHealth graduate of Alabama State University, Robert O. Emeh, after he met Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., on a Delta flight to Washington, D.C.

“On my way back to D.C. from a wedding, I had an unexpected, pleasant encounter with President Ross on the plane. Then, we met up again at baggage claim, and we had a great conversation. I’m not surprised that Dr. Ross took the time to talk with me because I heard great things about his character. I appreciate him for being so kind to me, and I hope to potentially work with him to help support ASU students in the future,” Emeh said.

During their conversation, Emeh said Ross encouraged him to continue his medical journey. 

“Dr. Ross told me to continue to press toward the mark in my pursuit of getting my medical degree. I appreciate his words of encouragement, and his support fuels my burning desire to reach my full potential,” Emeh said.

Ross remembers Emeh as an outstanding scholar with big dreams.

“It was such a pleasure running into Robert at the airport in D.C. and learning about all that he is accomplishing. Robert is one of ASU's success stories. He has made remarkable strides in his career,” Ross said. “Robert’s accomplishments provide solid proof of the value of an ASU education. ASU produces excellence, and Robert is a prime example of that. I see Robert as a game changer on the global stage.”

While at ASU,  Emeh assisted doctors in surgery at Hospital Apoyo de Lquitos in Iquitos, Peru, through the University’s ASU Tropical Pathology and Infectious Diseases Association. He also was named ASU 2016-17 Student of The Year and earned a first-place honor for his research poster presentation during the Emerging Research National Conference, among other things.

Emeh is now a Research Fellow with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rehab Medicine Department and an M.D. candidate for the Class of 2024.

“…My long-term goal is to be a physiatrist who mitigates healthcare disparities amongst patients with disabilities,” he said. “I have taken the  initiative to work with physiatrists at several medical institutions and currently serve as the President of the HUCM PM&R Student Interest Group, which has strengthened my passion for helping patients navigate the challenges that arise from injuries and life-limiting medical conditions.”

First Spark
The  Nigerian-American who was raised in Rowlett, Texas, said his interest in medicine was sparked as a young child visiting his mother as she worked as a nurse.

“…I was captivated by the intricate medical illustrations on the walls and the heartfelt interactions between physicians and patients…Those early memories ignited a spark within me, inspiring me, inspiring a lifelong dream to serve others as a physician.”

He said ASU helped jumpstart that dream.

“With the demand of sustaining a high level of productivity, Alabama State University has helped prepare me for the rigorous workload of medical school. These experiences, along with others, have fueled my passion for making an impact on people’s lives as a physician,” Emeh pointed out.

Emeh, who grew up as a first-generation immigrant in a family of modest means, had to fight to overcome several challenges to pursue his dream of becoming a physician.

“My journey has taught me the immeasurable value of hard work, perseverance, and resilience, developing my character and work ethic,” he said.

Emeh noted that as a decedent from Nigeria, he has experienced firsthand the tragic loss of family members due to insufficient healthcare management. He hopes to help eradicate those health issues.

 “With a significant number of people in America and around the world lacking access to adequate medical care, I am driven to make a meaningful impact by providing compassionate care to underserved patients, one person at a time,”  Emeh added.