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Barrier Breaker of the Month of April 2020

The Barrier Breaker of the month of April Is….

Dr. Titilope Obayomi. She is originally from Nigeria, but currently resides in America.

Jois: Welcome, Welcome to the Barrier Breakers Corner. 

Titi: Thank you for having me.

Jois: Was it a desire of yours to always be a Doctor at a young age?

Titi: Yes, definitely. I had always wanted to become a physician, ever since I was a little girl. You know as a child, you are quick to say many different things you want to become in the future? For me personally, I would say ‘oh I want to become an Actress and a Doctor or I want to become an Engineer and a Doctor’; I would say so many other things, but being a physician was a constant thing.

Jois: Awesome, can you tell us the story of how you got from where you were then to where you are now. (Titi will be graduating in a few months but she already got her certificate as a Doctor of Medicine)

Titi: Yes and I will be starting residency in Internal medicine

Jois: Whooop Whooop….. In America, you have to do three years of residency and it’s crazy; working twelve hour shifts or eighty hours a week. Oh my Gosh!

Jois: So tell us some of your ups and downs

Titi: I would say a series of events allowed me to realize that I wanted to become a Physician. Being born in Nigeria and living there for nine years before moving to America to make that dream actualized was part of it. I have always been this hard-working and goal oriented individual. When I was in Nigeria, I didn’t have enough resources that would help me make that dream to become a reality. Upon moving to America, I made it a point of duty to take part in many opportunities, such as volunteering in hospitals and shadowing many physicians. Putting my hands in all these opportunities when I was younger laid the foundation for me and helped me in fulfilling my goal of becoming a Physician.

Jois: So in Nigeria, there aren’t that many opportunities you think?

Titi: Errrrmmmmmm….I would say there are opportunities, but the opportunities are very limited. I see how people are struggling in Nigeria to become Physicians. It is literally about who you know and who can get you there, based on what I see from afar—- unlike in America, where they actually lay the foundation for you. I recall growing up in Nigeria, there was nothing such as students being given an opportunity to shadow Physicians in a hospital setting. In America, there are medical-related summer programs for middle and high schoolers. All these opportunities are not readily available in Nigeria. When I moved to America, I had to immerse myself in what I wanted to become.

Jois: Right. That’s good. I think that’s something we need back home but who is even ready to give those resources to people.

Titi: Right. There are not even enough resources

Jois: Yeaaa. Even if there are finances, someone is already thinking of stealing the money for themselves whereas they could have bettered other people’s lives. Please go ahead with your story.

Titi: Yeaaa. It was definitely a difficult journey going through medical school and graduating, but I know that it was all about me being focused on the goal and having God as my backbone. There were difficult times that I felt like giving up. There were times that I actually asked myself whether I was called into medicine, but I knew that God had given me that vision a long time ago. I knew my passion was in medicine, so when the going was tough and things were becoming blurry, I had to remind myself of my purpose. I had to remind myself of the vision God had given me and because I focused on that purpose and vision, I was able to scale through, by the Grace of God.

Jois: Right. So what were some of the challenges you faced on this journey?

Titi: Errmmmm for example, taking an exam and not doing well and questioning yourself, whereas, you see other people in the same field as you not having trouble studying. They can even study the day before and still be fine, but you find yourself studying weeks upon weeks and things not making sense and then not doing well in an exam.

Jois: And some of those people are not even Christians

Titi: Exactly!

Jois: And you feel like God’s got your back. God should even be showing you the questions for the exams. Lol.

Titi: Exactly! And a lot of times, I would say to God, ‘these people are not even Christians and things are going so well for them. However, I’m a believer and I’m struggling so much’. There were times I would study, but I had no idea what I was studying or take an exam and not do as well. So these were very difficult moments for me and during those moments as I said, I had to really question myself, ‘God, is it truly you that gave me this vision of becoming a Physician?, am I on the right path?, do I need to start this journey all over again’? But there was just this peace that I had in God over and over again that this was what He had called me to do and to the Glory of God, I was able to do well, finish well, and finish successfully.

Jois: Well Done. I remember you talked about being behind and your classmates ahead of you. What caused that?

Titi: Well in medical school, you have to take three professional exams; two main exams, but the second one has two parts. I had to prepare for my first professional exam. I was studying and studying, however, after taking the practice exams, my scores were not reflective of the amount of studying I had put into it. So I had to take time off from school because I knew I had to ensure my success on that exam before going further. All my friends had already taken their professional exams and they had already moved on with their lives doing clinical work. I was still far behind, trying to get through with the exam. I was taking practice exams, but they were not going as well as they should have been. Due to that challenge, I had to take some time off from school to study more, which caused me to be behind my peers. As a result of that,  I could not graduate at the time I was supposed to. To the Glory of God, I didn’t really think about what my friends or classmates were doing, I was focused on myself and saying to God, ‘at the appointed time you want me to take this exam, I will do so’. It made me understand that our path and journey in this world is different.

Jois: It’s not a competition

Titi: Yes, It’s definitely not a competition. Sometimes, I’d recall what my father used to tell me when I was younger, that it’s not about how far, but how well. It is not about going too fast, but about fixing yourself and running after that goal itself, without looking at the people around you.

Jois: And who you’re becoming in that moment. Sometimes you’re rushing and you’re like ‘oh I need to get this done’ and you feel like ‘oh this person is moving ahead and i need to move ahead as well’ and you’re rushing and not even realizing who you’re becoming at the end of the day. But you want to make sure you know who you are in that moment.

Jois: I also wanted to say that, Delay is not Denial, so when it seems like God is making you step back or you feel like God is delaying everything, He is probably preparing you for when He really needs you. You could have gone with your peers and you would have gone way beyond where God needed you to be at a point in time but I’m sure God is preparing you for something greater; where He needs you at a particular time. So that delay is for a purpose and an appointed time.

Titi: Yes, delay is not denial and I will say that the challenges I had in medical school really molded me in my spiritual walk and I know there were times that God would tell me that this profession you are going into, I want you to be able to give me the Glory. It’s not about being a Physician, but it’s about being a Physician with a difference. It’s about being a Physician that is touching lives and souls, not just with medicine, but through Christ at the end of the day. These challenges really built me up spiritually; I really got to know God more and my identity in Christ as well. 

Jois: That’s really powerful. I feel like I am in that season of my life where God is making me see who I am in Christ because I feel I was losing myself at some point and now that I’m here in the U.S even though it feels like I have taken a step back and everything is delayed for me, I feel God wants me to know who I really am. I kinda know myself more now, what my standards are, what I really want in life and where I want to go but back then, everything was just gloomy and I was just rushing and moving and busy doing this and busy doing that. But right now there is a stillness and sometimes God calls you to Himself at a time like this.

Jois: Well Done! Well Done! Congratulations on completing and moving to this point. I know it’s not been easy; it’s only been God all the way bringing you to this point.

Titi: Thank you so much Jois.

Jois: I also know you went to Nigeria for an internship I think.

Titi: Yea it was more like a shadowing experience/internship at a hospital

Jois: How was it like?

Titi: It was an experience… a humbling experience!! I had the opportunity to work at a hospital in a remote place in Nigeria. The way medicine is being practiced there is quite different from what we’re used to in America. Going to Nigeria allowed me to appreciate Nigerian Physicians more. One thing I’ll say about Nigerian Doctors before I talk about my experience is the fact that Nigerian Physicians are very intelligent. There is so much wealth of knowledge that they have. Despite that, they are limited by resources, so there’s only little they can do. 

Titi: So I said my experience was a humbling one, which allowed me to appreciate medicine in America. Firsthand, I was able to witness people coming to the hospital and not getting the treatment that they are supposed to receive because they could not afford it. Patients would also have to buy and bring the medical supplies that the physicians would use.

Jois: Wow! Is it that the government could not provide?

Titi: I don’t know about other hospitals in Nigeria; I only know about the one I went to. The patients would provide the gloves, needles, and all other medical supplies the physicians would use.

Jois: WOW! And even at that some people do not even have enough money to buy those things let alone paying the Doctor to even do that surgery or treat them.

Titi: Right! I remember a story one of the Physicians shared with me. A little girl needed surgery to be done and the parents were told the surgery could not be performed, due to lack of electricity. The father told them that he would bring his own generator, ‘Just do the surgery for my child, I will bring my own generator myself’. It shows how far behind we are in the health sector in Nigeria. But as I said, it was just that particular hospital, I’m not sure about others. I know there are a lot of private hospitals in Nigeria that are very good, but at the end of the day not everyone is able to afford going to a private hospital. It was a good experience understanding medicine in Nigeria, which is different from what I’ve been used to here in America.

Jois: You know some of these things just make me be like, God I really need to be better financially as well to be able to go into different places like this and provide for them because some people are really honest in the businesses that they do, be it a Doctor, an Orphanage, Hospital, whatever field they may be in but they don’t really have the finances to support the businesses they are in. If other people have the finances or hear these people’s stories and are able to be of help to them I think it will make the world a better place. It’s not just thinking about where you are because where you are, you may be fulfilled and you most likely have everything but you can also look into other places and desire to support. It’s just that other people have faced that problem where they’ve helped some people and those people took advantage of them and so no one wants to help anymore and it has affected others. I feel if you are able to dive in and see where people need help and chip into one community or organisation, the world will be a much better place for people to live in. I mean not everyone has the funds, but the little you can do to help will go a long way.

Jois: So in the wake of this Covid19, what are your thoughts?

Titi: This is such an unusual situation, everyone is learning as the day passes. Even the Physicians are learning. Everyone is just taking the day as it goes. What do I think about it? It’s really sad that lives are being lost because of this virus that we cannot even see with our naked eyes and it’s just a way to tell us that life cannot be taken for granted. Everyday is a day to make use of. Each day is an opportunity to get closer to your goal and purpose. At the beginning of the year no one ever thought that something like coronavirus would be killing people. We did learn about coronavirus in medical school.

Jois: Oh you guys did?

Titi: Yeah. We learned about different viruses, but it was one of those viruses that we studied just for the exams.

Jois: And just pushed it away

Titi: lol, Just pushed it away

Jois: Did it have a cure? I mean when you guys talked about it, was there any cure?

Titi: There is no cure for it now

Jois: Well yeah

Titi: They are looking for a vaccine for it. I mean we get viruses everyday. When you get a flu, it’s a viral infection. When you have a runny nose or coughing, it could be due to a viral infection but your body is able to fight a viral infection. It’s just that this virus is a different type of virus, the strand is different and because the strand is different, the body does not know how to fight it and that’s where the problem is. But we’re hopeful that a vaccine will come out very soon so that this issue will not be a problem again in the future.

Jois: So what would you tell people in this season of Covid19?

Titi: Wash your hands


Titi: When you sneeze, don’t sneeze out haahaa, cover your mouth, cover your nose, if you’re yawning or coughing, cover your mouth, because it’s a respiratory problem. We just  want to make sure at this time and period, we’re taking the normal precautions. If you’re sick, stay home. If you know that you’re having some sort of respiratory infection symptoms, such as, coughing, runny nose, or shortness of breath (shortness of breath is one of the symptoms of coronavirus infection), stay home. Being outside might lead you to pass the virus to other people. You might be able to fight the infection, but other people might not be able to. Just take the normal precautions during this period of Covid19.

Jois: He that has ears let them hear; a word to the wise is sufficient.

Jois: What encouragement do you have for other people who feel stuck and feel like this life is hard, I can’t go on, it’s tough out here. What advice have you got for them to rise up and Break Barriers.

Titi: Tough times make you stronger, challenges are not meant to break you, they are meant to build you up. No one goes through life without going through a challenge, but what you do during those times speaks a lot about you and where you’re going. Some people might have more challenges than others, but one thing I know for sure is the fact that God does not give you more than you’re able to bear. There’s a glorious future that God has planned for you; no matter the challenges, no matter the tribulations that you may be facing, just know that God is there to back you up. I’m not sure what kind of challenges you may be going through, but just focus on God and your purpose. As I said earlier, I had a lot of challenges in medical school……. challenges that using words might not be enough to actually explain the magnitude of how tough it was, but I was able to focus on my goal and hold on to Jesus. 

Titi: So I’ll just say that during your challenges and hard times, focus on God. When you focus on Jesus, there is a peace that comes from within that keeps you going. I will say that don’t give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what you’re going through, know that there is someone that is going through harder times than you are. You’re not the only one going through hardships. Just hold on to the hope that you have in Christ and the peace that passes all understanding will be yours.

Jois: They say that if we were to switch everybody’s problems up and give you other people’s problems, You will want your problem back. ‘Let me have my problem back’ because when you see what other people are facing, you will be like ‘No! No! No! No! ‘I think I want what I am going through, let me just accept that’, lol. You will never understand unless you’re in that person’s situation, then you will know that this person is actually going through a tough time.

Jois: And also when you’re facing these challenges, you feel like you need to be in the midst of people so that you’ll forget but you have to learn to be alone too because the moment you’re alone, there are so many things that will come to mind but learn to have a conversation with yourself, try to find a way that you can be better even when you’re alone. There are times that you’re going to be on your own and when you’re alone, so many things go through your mind but learn not to put the negative in your mind but always try to stay positive in that situation. If you have to cry, cry, if you have to roll around (lol…i don’t know why I said that. I have never rolled around lol) or watch a movie or something, do it. Don’t plan to want to kill yourself or throw in the towel.

Titi: Just wanted to add that yes there are times that you have to be alone with Christ just to hear what God has to tell you through your challenging moments and there are times as well that you also have to speak up. One thing I will say is be mindful of the people you share your challenges with. There are some people that you share your challenges with, but nothing really happens after. Yeah you tell them, but they are not really doing anything to help you. You want to make sure you are talking to people that will lift you up, people that have probably been through the same thing you’ve been through, that will be able to guide you through the process and in Christ as well. Going back to my medical school journey, when times were difficult, I knew that I had to speak to people that could help me spiritually. I also knew I had to speak to Physicians who had also gone through the same route that could also help me at that very moment. Of course my friends were there and they were like ‘Oh Titi you can do this, you can do that’, but there was nothing more better than me talking to people who had actually gone through what I was going through and that helped me during my challenging moments. Also speaking to my spiritual mentors- my siblings also guided me in the spiritual aspects as well. So as you’re spending alone time with God through your challenging moments. It’s also okay to speak up and share your challenges with people, but you have to be careful of the people you’re sharing those things with because they could either break you or build you up.

Jois: Right. It’s very important to know who to talk to. Some Christians will say ‘Let me go and talk to my pastor about it’ but at the end of the day some of these pastors will say let’s pray about it; there is nothing wrong with that but personally, I don’t really like talking to my pastors about things not because I do not want to, but I feel like they are so overwhelmed with church work and family and so me coming to talk to them about anything is going to add more on their plate (I say this because I am a PK and I know what Pastors go through, I’ve seen it firsthand) but finding somebody in your field is very important. Someone you can talk to and ask what to do, how I can go about this, where should I go. If it’s marriage, you can have a couple in your community you look up to and talk to them, it could be school, whatever field you are in, you can find someone and talk to; whatever it may be, you can always find somebody to talk to instead of just sitting and praying about it. The Bible says faith without works is dead, so if you’re just praying about it, what are the works you’re putting in to make yourself better in the situation that you’re going through. Sometimes you need to ask God what lessons He wants you to learn in this season, and sometimes the lessons you may need to learn is being able to talk to that person and allowing that person to guide you.

Jois: Well this was an awesome interview. Thank You Dr. Titi.

Titi: Thanks for having me Jois.

Jois: It was amazing. Thank You, Thank You so much. I know this will be a blessing to people out there. I am super grateful for having you here (We were driving back home from church during this interview; busy life of a Dr and a Finance Officer/Entrepreneur). Well there is saying ‘Make hay while the sun shines’. So we did just that, lol.

Titi: Lol, Thank You so much too. I really appreciate it.

Jois: God Bless you


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Jois Donkor