Page 41 - RU RWJ Medicine Magazine • Winter 2021
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boarding school and headed to the states to pre- pare a new life for herself and her family. While that time apart was hard, Dr. Fakorede says those formidable years made him the person he is today.
He shared, “During this time, there was a five- year stretch where we only saw my mom twice a year for two weeks at a time. She worked as a nurse in Harlem while moonlighting at a gas sta- tion and took on other odd jobs to make extra money.”
When Dr. Fakorede was 13, they reunited in Bergen County, where Comfort Dele purchased a home for her family in one of the best neighbor- hoods in Teaneck, N.J.
Experiences that Paved the Way
Living in the suburbs as a teenager amidst a melting pot of cultures cultivated Dr. Fakorede’s appreciation for diversity and the
importance of giving back to the community. From volunteering at Holy Name Hospital and tutoring, he gave back and did so with an abundance of effort and passion.
While living in Teaneck was a great introduction to cultural diversity, his education at Rutgers and in the Access-Med program opened his eyes to the significant disparities in the U.S. health care system faced by so many—particularly in under- served communities.
Access-Med is the core undergraduate program in the Office for Diversity and Success in the Sciences (ODASIS), an academic support unit within the Di- vision of Life Sciences at Rutgers. The goal of the program is to increase the recruitment and intel- lectual success of underrepresented students in- terested in pursuing careers in STEM professions.
“My experiences working at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center and as a student in the ODASIS program were invaluable. I was amazed to see how the haves and the have-nots were treated
very differently when you look at everything from infant mortality rates to maternal health and sen- ior care. Learning about these social determinants of health that often lead to sub-standard quality of care and outcomes made me realize that this was an area that I wanted to explore further,”
Dr. Fakorede said.
Tragedy Leads to a Moment of Pause
Two months before taking the MCATs, Dr. Fakorede and his family were devastated by the sudden death of his 22-year-old brother and best friend, Oluseye.
Oluseye developed lower extremity cramps and a high-grade fever. A friend took him to the hospital, and within three hours, he passed away. Follow- ing two inconclusive autopsies, the family now lives with many unanswered questions. He re- membered, “I was shattered and it broke my trust in the medical system. We don't know what killed him. But we are a very faithful family and thought for whatever reason at that time, God wanted him.”
As he dealt with his grief, Dr. Fakorede decided to take a gap year and worked for a start-up biotech company in research and development.
In the months that followed, he grew content, but those closest to him would not let him forget that he had unfinished plans. He says it was the strong relationships that he developed in the ODASIS program that helped lift him from despair and
Dr. Fakorede prepares for a procedure (above); and with a
patient in his clinic, Cardiovascular Solutions of Central Mississippi (facing page).
Robert Wood Johnson | MEDICINE 39
“When you look at the burden of cardiovascular
disease, we as Black people make up a majority of those cases, yet we are still drastically underrepresented in the field."

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