Page 6 - Volume 70 Number 1
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Meet WCMS President Dr. Joseph Nnodim
By Gabrielle Szlenkier
1. How do you correctly pronounce your last name? The Ns are pronounced – draw the first one out slightly
longer; N-uh-dem. Two syllables and both vowels are soft.
2. Why did you decide you wanted to be President of WCMS?
A former WCMS Executive Director approached me
about the opportunity a few years ago. It wasn’t a
calculated decision, but I didn’t hesitate in expressing
my interest. I wanted to further my participation as an
active member in WCMS. It’s good to read our materials
like the Bulletin and attend meetings, but to be part of
the decision-making process is much better. I knew my
position as President would have defined duties and responsibilities and I was excited to take my membership to the next level.
3. Tell me a little bit about your childhood and journey to be who you are today.
of especially the more vulnerable among us. As a physician and geriatrician, I am able to do just that. It’s about service to my fellow human beings.
America African Service for at least one hour just about every day. “The Making of a Nation”, a very detailed series on American history, was one program I remember very well. And there was of course Willis Conover’s “Time for Jazz!” On the BBC, Alistair Cooke read his “Letter from America,” a very intimate portrayal of American life, once every week. Then, when we
I grew up in a large family in Nigeria.
I’m one of eight – I have two brothers
and five sisters. My father was a civil
servant, so we moved from station to
station quite frequently. I didn’t spend
longer than 5-6 years in one place.
Moving frequently meant diverse education and being exposed to different people and ethnic groups. I learned very young how people speak and behave can be so different. Despite moving frequently, I made many friends and we all still remain in close contact. One of my fondest memories was witnessing the first motor vehicles come to one of my towns: the Volkswagen Kombi bus and the Morris Minor sedan. We had a great celebration.
lived in the UK, I saw his riveting documentary series “America” in its entirety.
At the University of Benin Medical School in Nigeria,
I was involved in curricular reform in the basic medical sciences and my focus was on reconfiguring the anatomy program to accommodate the early introduction of clinical experiences. I had struck up a relationship with Dr. Bruce Carlson, the Chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Michigan, and it happened that his program was going through pretty much the same process at the time. He arranged for me to come and spend my sabbatical year here during 1992-1993. I must say I enjoyed it very much. In 1995, he told me about a vacancy in his Department, I applied for
it and was hired. And as Paul Harvey would have said, you know “The Rest of the Story.”
5. What was the best phase in your life?
The best is yet to come! I really enjoyed my doctoral
studies in the United Kingdom. It was an eye-opening
my good fortune to go to the University of Wales, Cardiff. But for maybe half a century, I also knew that I would someday come to the USA. I just didn’t know if I would stay. I became exceedingly familiar with the U.S. through reading, listening and viewing documentaries. In high school, students had the option of studying the geography on one non-African region and I chose North America. So for me, coming to the U.S. was a matter of coming to see how what I had read and heard about matched up with reality. My grandfather had a collection of TIME magazine that went back to the 1950’s and after
I graduated from medical school, I took out my own
subscription. My father had a subscription to Readers I Digest and I also read the very glossy EBONY. In high
always wanted to serve others school, I developed an enthusiasm for shortwave radio listening and for
– relieve difficulty and suffering decades, I would listen to the Voice of
4. Tell me how a bit about your journey to become a physician here in Ann Arbor.
I went to the United Kingdom for further studies because that was what the vast majority of my generation did due to Nigeria’s colonial heritage. Nigeria was a British colony and, like India, one of the so-called jewels in the British imperial crown. In the 1980’s, local doctoral programs in the basic medical sciences and even residency programs, were either nascent or non- existent. So many of us went to study abroad and it was
6 Washtenaw County Medical Society BULLETIN JANUARY / FEBRUARY / MARCH 2018

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