P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Christeebella Akpala, 2022

MD, Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine

Christeebella Akpala is an immigrant from Nigeria

Fellowship awarded to support work towards an MD at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine

Born in Kogi State, Nigeria, Christeebella Akpala moved to Dallas, Texas at the age of 17 as an immigrant due to the civil unrest and instability brought on by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Thrust into a whole new life and all by herself, Christeebella began working at Subway to save for college so she could pursue her dream of being a doctor. Despite being promoted to a shift supervisor and starting community college classes, Christeebella lived in and out of a homeless shelter because of the high cost of education and rent.

Proficient in three languages, Christeebella had the chance to translate for the US Navy under the Movement Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, which offered her permanent residency on an accelerated track. With the help of financial aid, she soon enrolled in Towson University to pursue a bachelor's degree in pre-medicine biology fulltime. During college, Christeebella had the opportunity to work as a nursing assistant at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where she decided to focus her studies on nursing. She also deepened her long-time work with soup kitchens and homeless shelters by setting up mobile clinics and extending her outreach work.

After graduating, Christeebella was hired as a nurse at the Mayo Clinic hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. She later went on to study medicine in West Virginia at the Joan C Edwards School of Medicine, where she got sick and was referred to the Mayo Clinic and has continued to be treated. Determined to give back throughout her treatment, she started learning how to make wigs for oncology patients and has since made 20. Christeebella has begun her medical school studies again and is now pursuing her MD at the Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

Christeebella remains passionate about social issues like diversity in medicine, cultural competency regarding healthcare delivery, and racial/ethnic biases that may undermine care delivery to underprivileged and marginalized communities. She is currently working on a COVID-19 registry that investigates the multidisciplinary approaches in ICU treatment strategies worldwide, for which she was named one of two American Medical Association emerging scholars in infectious diseases for the year 2020.

Education
  • MD | Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine 2025
  • BS Nursing | Towson University 2017
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