When Gideon Dela Avornu, graduated from Purdue University North Central in May, he immediately began to look forward to the next stage of his life.
After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Chemistry minor, he is ready to begin work as a research program assistant at Johns Hopkins University, Department of Emergency Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Ultimately, Avornu has his sights set on attending medical school.
“I hope to become a physician although I’m not sure with what specialty,” he said. What he does know is that he intends to one day build a hospital in his native Ghana.
His parents, three sisters and brother still live in Ho, Ghana.
The desire to become a doctor developed over time, he admitted.
“As a child, I admired bankers and wanted a career in banking. My plans changed as my interest in the life sciences grew. I became more interested in diseases and medical conditions, which led me to pursue career in healthcare, preferably as a physician. I’d like to work at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and eventually build a hospital in Ghana.”
Avornu came to the United States to pursue an education and “to meet new, diverse people.”
“I enjoy meeting new and interesting people,” he explained.
He came to the U.S. in September 2005 at the age of 17 as an exchange student. He spent his senior year at Washington Township High School and lived with the Price family of Valparaiso. He returned to Ghana in June 2006 and came back to the area in 2007 to attend PNC.
“My academic counselor at Washington Township High School, Diane Warren, recommended PNC. I chose PNC because it has a small campus. There is more student-teacher interaction and student-employee positions were available to help offset my living expenses.
“I shared a lot of wonderful experiences with friends at PNC but my favorite was working in Printing & Mail Services, where I was a student employee since my freshman year.”
That job took Avornu to every department on campus as he delivered mail. He was an ever-cheerful presence, greeting people by name and wishing them a good day as he made his rounds.
Avornu made the most of his student experience. He was active in campus activities and helped out in the community too.
He a member of the Chancellors Leadership Group, Dean’s Leadership Group, Rotaract Club, Phi Eta Sigma and Beta Beta Beta academic societies and served as a campus tour guide for two semesters. He earned academic honors for several semesters.
He was elected treasurer of the Dean’s Leadership Group and secretary of Rotaract Club.
In addition, he found time to volunteer at Porter Hospital and attend Liberty Bible Church.
By setting his priorities and using his time-management skills, Avornu could devote ample time to his studies and his activities.
“This is where a simple study time table and ‘to-do’ list becomes useful. School work is important and should be the number one priority. However, to be well-rounded, I made time for other activities.”
Avornu had a number of people befriend him and help guide him through the unfamiliar processes and procedures of higher education.
“PNC professors and staff are always willing to help students and ensure that they thrive in their chosen areas,” he said. “I’m most grateful to Sue Wilson (PNC director of School Partnerships), and her husband Mark; Dr. Linda Duttlinger (associate professor of Developmental Studies); Bridget Cadwell (printing operations supervisor); the print services staff, Dr. Alain Togbe (professor of Mathematics); Dr. James B. Dworkin (Chancellor); John Coggins (dean of students); Cori Warnock (Bursar’s Office clerk); Walter Day (Campus Police), my friends and many other people I forgot to mention for their help.”
He also noted that a number of faculty members inspired him and had a hand in his success. “Dr. Chris Holford (associate professor of Biology) was my mentor. Dr. Rich Hengst (professor of Biology) and Dr. Nancy Marthakis (assistant professor of Microbiology) and Holford supervised my research on the “Effects of the Hormone Progesterone on Tenebrio Molitor or Mealworm Beetles” for the Louis Stokes Alliance Minority Program program (LSAMP).
Avornu keeps his characteristically upbeat attitude as he looks to the future.
“I have to admit, the future is unpredictable and the best we can do is work hard, have faith, smile more often and take life one day at a time.”