June 25, 2019

Tears of joy as Kenyan medical student in Boston finds she’s matched with one of the country’s best programs (video)

By Thuothuo Anthony -Jamhuri News

Photo: Umass

Noreen Chioma Okwara grew up in Mombasa Kenya, before her family of both Kenyan and Nigerian descent relocated to Lowell, MA when she was only 17.

While still in Kenya, Noreen had lost a brother in a car accident, a death she links to poor medical services in the country. The death, however, did not keep her from dreaming big;  and it inspired her to pursue medicine.

“In medicine, I found a reason to keep going,” says Noreen

Noreen started her career at Middlesex Community College, where she took classes that got her accepted at Umass Boston for Bachelor of Science in biology, which she earned in four years.

After graduation, she traveled to Maryland for a yearlong research studying HIV immunoregulation. When she returned to Massachusetts, she attended Umass Medical School in Worcester where she’s due to graduate in June.

Noreen received Charles D. Baker II Scholarship in both her undergraduate and medical education. She was recognized by Umass President, Marty Meehan during ‘’State of the University’’ at Umass in March 2017. Meehan called her ”an example of the talent and perseverance of UMass students and alumni”.

She traveled to Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania,  Illinois, and Minnesota, where she interviewed at 18 places.

On Friday, March 17 at UMass Medical School “Match Day”, Noreen was in jubilation when she opened the envelope to find that she was matched with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston for residency, which she says was in her top three favorites.

“I’m going to be working with some of the brightest minds in medicine,” Okwara said

Noreen says she would not want anybody to go through what she went through, and that now, there’s hope.




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