Auburn Spotlight, Daniel Akwa

“You don’t need to know what you want to do in the next 20 years, you just need to know what you want to do in the present...if you make up your mind to do something, it’s possible.”
Daniel Akwa
Senior, Biomedical Sciences

Spotlight Interview

Auburn University senior Daniel E. Akwa noticed a need for more specialized medical practices in his home country of Calabar, Nigeria, and plans to use his education through the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) to help fill this need.

Akwa is studying Biomedical Sciences with a pre-med concentration. He said he first learned of Auburn University through a school recruiter and was impressed with what the school had to offer.

“I researched about it a lot,” he said. “I saw the research facilities, I saw pictures and I saw the alumni network, which was very interesting.”

Although he plans to pursue a medical degree, Akwa said he is unsure of his specific path and plans to attend graduate school first. He said he plans to gain as much experience as he can in the United States before moving back to Nigeria to help fill the need for experienced physicians.

“The problem in African countries is that the doctors are qualified but they don’t have enough experience,” Akwa said. “The doctors are more general physician doctors. We don’t have specific doctors in specific areas. The mortality rate is very, very high. If we had more doctors pursuing more specific fields, it would help ease the pain on the general hospitals.”

Akwa said in his home state, there is one hospital serving three communities.

“If we had more doctors we could give people in rural areas a fighting chance,” Akwa said. “When you live in a place where you’re only a few feet away from people suffering from conditions that can be cured, to see someone die from it changes your perspective on things.”

While pursuing his degree, Akwa also works as a tutor through Study Partners and is currently conducting a research fellowship. His favorite way to spend his free time is playing soccer.

He added that a major part of his positive experience as a COSAM student has been through the Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity, specifically Director Kimberly Mulligan and Administrative Support Specialist Janice Brown.

“They have pretty much been my whole support in COSAM,” he said.

Although Akwa is a long way from home, he said he doesn’t have the time to really be home sick.

“If you want something so bad, every other thing becomes second,” he said. “The first summer of the first break I had, it was a little bit hard, but after time went on I just saw one part - which was becoming a doctor.”

Akwa said his advice to incoming international students would be to set daily goals.

“You don’t need to know what you want to do in the next 20 years, you just need to know what you want to do in the present,” he said. “You need to know what test you have to pass tomorrow, what assignments need to be done before tomorrow, that’s all you need to know. I have come to understand that the reason why people do not succeed is it’s not a general hindrance, it’s personal. If you make up your mind to do something, it’s possible.”