Exercise science grad dreams of taking physical therapy practice to Nigeria and beyond

Rising Up at KUEC: In this Q&A series, outstanding 2021 KU graduates share how the KU Edwards Campus has helped them start, advance or change their career. Meet Kelechi Ofodu.

Kelechi Ofodu, 2021 exercise science bachelor's graduate

Earning her bachelor’s in exercise science is only the beginning for this 2021 graduate. Kelechi Ofodu grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, but she doesn’t intend to remain close to home. After graduating from college in just three years through the Degree in 3 program, the 20-year-old plans to earn her doctorate and open physical therapy clinics all over the world.

For Ofodu, the support from KU Edwards Campus professors and advisors truly made a difference in her college experience.

“I had a lot of the same teachers for many classes, and the class sizes were often small, so it was easy to receive help if needed,” said Ofodu. “KUEC helped tremendously in my academic needs.”

Building connections with others is especially important to Ofodu, and it’s those connections she hopes will allow her to connect with patients and lead her to achieve her dreams. Learn more about her journey and how she plans to accomplish her goals.

Q: What was a typical day in your life like as a student?

A: A typical day in my life starts with lying in bed for about an hour, checking my phone to catch up with life, because I don’t normally pay my phone much attention throughout the day. Then I create a timeline for how I’m going to go about my day. Most times I pull my laptop out and start getting schoolwork done, work at the times I need to, then do more schoolwork.

Q: What makes you the happiest?

A: I think what makes me the happiest is having genuine connections with people, even if they’re strangers. It’s making the smallest connections with random people – be it someone noticing the same funny thing you did or someone keeping the door open for you – that really stand out to me.

Q: What motivates you?

A: I think the most important thing is the goals that I’ve set for myself. I want to be a physical therapist who owns her own clinic and expands to Nigeria. In order to achieve that goal, I have to go through all of the steps, from school to getting experience, even through the times it gets hard. 

Q: Why did you choose KU and the Edwards Campus?

A: I chose KUEC because they offer a Degree in 3 program which includes attending a community college for a year and completing prerequisites, then going on to complete two years at KUEC to receive a bachelor’s degree. Plus, I was able to cut costs living at home, pay the MetroKC rate and commute to school in a little under 30 minutes. I also had an amazing advisor that worked with me from my junior year in high school to prepare me to be a part of the program.

Q: How did KUEC meet your personal and/or academic needs?

A: One thing that really helped me out was the amount of support received from teachers. I had a lot of the same teachers for many classes, and the class sizes were often small, so it was easy to receive help if needed. They were very understanding of personal events that might hinder schoolwork and had the resources to accommodate study spaces. As you can see, KUEC helped tremendously in my academic needs.

Q: How has your KU degree prepared you for the future?

A: I believe I have a solid understanding of my field and society as a whole that can aid in my ventures in graduate school, with my future patients and just in everyday life.

Q: What was the most difficult part of earning your college degree and how did you overcome it?

A: I think the most difficult part about earning my college degree was the lack of social interaction I had. I know it sounds backwards but because I was in an accelerated program, I often had heavy workloads, and with that comes events I can no longer attend or cancellations with gatherings of friends. I don’t think it held me back after the first year because my friends understood that I was always busy. They supported my goals and respected the fact that I would always be doing schoolwork. I think that helped me realize I’m doing this for a reason.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment?

A: My proudest accomplishment is earning this degree. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, and all of the hard work I put in was leading up to this degree. Now the goal is to get my doctorate degree.

Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at KUEC?

A: My favorite memory at KUEC would have to be the labs we would have for some of my classes. With the degree being exercise science, we often were doing just that, learning correct techniques and having to perform them ourselves. I enjoy hands-on learning because it creates a sort of community within the class. Some of those moments will always stay with me.

Q: What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

A: My long-term career goal is to be a Doctor of Physical Therapy with multiple clinics in Nigeria, the United States and hopefully other countries. To reach that goal, I first have to become a physical therapist. Then I would complete my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Nigeria, which is a sort of national duty to be able to work or serve in the country. Then I need to work to gather some experience while building connections and a network to start a clinic in the States, then expand from there.

Q: What advice would you give others who are thinking of earning a degree, whether a first-time bachelor’s, a second bachelor’s or a master’s?

A: I would tell them to find out why they want to earn that degree. If earning a degree is beneficial for their careers and they know why they are going to school, then I would encourage them to get that degree. When it gets hard, all you have to do is remind yourself of that “why” to keep you pushing through.

The Bachelor of Science in Exercise Sciencedegree program is supported by the Johnson County Education Research Triangle.

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