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Restoring a Family Legacy in Healthcare

By Lauren Whetzel-Siburkis

Robert Okwemba Enrolling at USciences as an international student from Kenya in the pharmaceutical marketing and management program, Robert Okwemba PharmD’15 was initially attracted to the unique curriculum that combined business and science. “I really enjoyed biology and chemistry during high school, and I had always envisioned being an entrepreneur,” recalled Dr. Okwemba.

His pathway changed during his third year when he decided to switch his major to pharmacy based on its legacy, opportunities, and high academic standards. He was also driven by his passion for saving humanity through medicine and the persistent reminder from his grandparents that he has expected to carry on the family legacy that began when Dr. Arthur Okwemba became the first African medical doctor in Kenya. Robert’s great uncle died in 1947 at only 30 years old, but his achievements had a much great impact.

“It’s important for me to continue with family legacy since the legacy had skipped a generation,” Robert said. “I will be the first one to resurrect the past legacy.”

Robert has joined the Johns Hopkins Health System’s Home Care Group as their first pharmacy resident in their new two-year combined post-graduate residency program while completing an MBA at Johns Hopkins University. In five years, he envisions himself managing a specialty pharmacy/division in a health system. After gaining that foothold, he hopes to later engage in some entrepreneurial activities that are related to specialty pharmacy.

“The opportunities that came during and after my education at USciences have been tremendous,” he said as he remembers the rigors and challenges of his education and how they opened doors to him.

But it was not all about academics for Robert whose mother Beatrice Bolger is in the Information Science Department at the University. He was instrumental in establishing the International Society in 2010. The organization highlights the University’s diverse ethnic student population through food, customs, and dance. Bolger continues to serve as the International Society advisor.

“The social, academic, and professional experience at USciences were very rewarding,” Robert said. “Some of the opportunities that I was exposed to such as internships and job offers were due to the strong academic background that is upheld at the university, the vast network of alumni, and the professional growth I was exposed to through clubs and societies.”

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