Student: Temilade Aladeniyi
Temilade Aladeniyi is a people person — and she’s using that trait to make a difference in the lives of all those she meets.
Aladeniyi, who goes by “Lade,” is a third-year student in East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. She and her classmates are technically already “M4s,” but will officially take the helm once the Class of 2023 graduates in May.
For Aladeniyi, who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and then moved to Charlotte with her family, the decision on where to attend medical school came naturally.
“Brody kind of decided on me, in a sense,” she said. “Brody only accepts North Carolina residents, which I think is very unique and cool because of their mission to really boost the health care in North Carolina, and that’s just outstanding; and also their mission to increase diversity in medicine. Everything about Brody, their mission just really speaks to me.”
Aladeniyi’s inclination toward leadership has helped her emerge as a friend, classmate and colleague among a class that hasn’t had it easy during their medical school journey. As class president — she was vice president her M2 year — she is a listening ear for her classmates and a seeker of answers.
“Being class president, I have to know my classmates,” she said. “It’s a privilege to get to know the things they’re struggling with, or when they say, ‘Can you please help us find this out?’ I like being that for someone; I feel like I’m getting to know people a lot better.”
The Class of 2024 began medical school in August 2020, in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. Aladeniyi said the experience was surreal and a situation that will continue to impact the students as they move into their fourth year.
“It’s been really weird,” she said of the pandemic. “We never got the opportunity to know each other during that crucial time. We did the best we could; we would come in for some things, but we couldn’t study in the building. It was a lot of trial and error. I think it definitely taught us to go with the flow and adapt as best you can. I think as a consensus, the Class of 2024 is the ‘independent class.’”
That’s not to say the class doesn’t have chemistry. They’ve learned to collaborate and learn how to be teammates, just as they will be part of care teams when they are physicians.
“Medicine is such a collaborative effort,” Aladeniyi said. “You have nurses, physicians, pharmacists; it’s such a collaborative effort.”
Even with unprecedented adjustments to her medical school experience, Aladeniyi has chosen a specialty that is just as unique as she is.
“I am leaning toward family medicine and a mixture of family medicine/psychiatry,” she said. “With COVID, we realized just how much mental health plays in people’s everyday lives. Especially in rural communities and diverse communities, if you can have your primary care doctor already managing your medications and also setting up appointments for therapy and things like that concern your mental health, I think that’s just really great in my opinion.
“I think a lot of people don’t seek care because of the long waiting time. I really have just seen the importance not only of taking care of your body but also taking care of your mind.”
Aladeniyi chose primary care partly because of her love for people and her ability to bring out their stories.
“I consider myself a pretty social person,” she said, “and I really like getting to know people. One of the reasons why I want to be a primary care physician is I want to be able to know people’s stories and really know them.”
She can also carry her passion for leadership into her career as a health care provider.
“It’s the best way you can be an advocate for your patients. As a physician you are your patients’ advocate; your patients tell you things that they may not tell anyone else. You have to be able know what to do with that information, how to navigate that,” she said. “Leaders are kind of ‘people managers,’ if that make sense. Being a physician, you’re at the head of the team. You can never go wrong honing your leadership skills. Leadership teaches you how to speak to so many different people.”
Aladeniyi has plans to be a primary care physician in her home state.
“North Carolina’s home,” she said. “I definitely see the value in going to other states and seeing how people practice differently —different culture, different skills — and I think that’s really vital for growth, but I also have so many friends and family in North Carolina and there are great family medicine and psychiatry programs. I just think you get such good training here.”
In addition to playing intramural soccer, Aladeniyi has helped coordinate events for prospective medical students and served as the master of ceremonies at the recent Legacy Teachers Celebration, where medical students honor a patient who has taught them a valuable life lesson.
“I think it’s really amazing; our patients are our biggest teachers, and you learn so much from them,” she said. “To be able to tell some of your stories and acknowledge them and to tell them, ‘You meant a lot to my medical career, and I will not forget all the lessons I learned from you and will carry those on.’”
Aladeniyi also hopes to leave future generations of Brody students with the inspiration to make a difference in their own ways.
“Just get involved in anything you are passionate about,” she said. “You never actually know the difference you can make. It’s going to take a lot more than one person, but if you can really say that I’m doing something to try bridge the gap in health disparities, I think that speaks a lot of volume. Just get involved, and if you find that something’s not there, create it.”
Name: Temilade Aladeniyi (Lade)
College: North Carolina Central University
Classification/Year: M4, Class of 2024
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria; Charlotte, N.C.
Hobbies/interests: Visiting national parks, watching crime shows, playing intramural soccer, crocheting
Clubs and Organizations: Medical Student Counsel (MSC), Student National Medical Association (SNMA), Brody Coaches Association(BCA), National Medical Fellowship (NMF)
Favorite hangout: Burn Boot Camp
Favorite place on campus: Health Sciences Student Center
Favorite place to eat: La Rancherita
Favorite class: Pathology
Professor who influenced you the most: Philip Boyer
Favorite TV show: I don’t have one but my top three would be, Ted Lasso, Game of Thrones, Bridgerton
Favorite band/musician: Maverick City Music
Favorite movie: Pride and Prejudice
Favorite app: Twitter
Dream job: Family medicine psychiatry
Your words to live by: Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
What advice do you have for other students? Be kind to yourself. Medical school is challenging, and it can be hard to think that you’re not good enough but you have to calm that inner voice in your head that makes you doubt your purpose. It doesn’t make you weak if you ask for help.
What is something cool about ECU that you wish you knew during your first year? I wish I knew about all the trails located downtown Greenville. I also wish I knew about all the food options available in the main campus student center.