Lota Ojiako

Your race at birth is a factor you cannot control.

You don’t get to choose your family, social or economic status when you are born.

Fate makes the decision to place you where it wills.

However, you can choose to make a positive difference in your community and society at large.

You can defy the odds, language, appearance, status and carve a way to be a change agent, a catalyst for change and a better world for all.

I am Lota Ojiako, a Nigerian Immigrant, a wife, a mother of 6 children and a physician taking care of patients 65 and better.

I have worked with Advocate Aurora for the past 19 years and during my time with Advocate I have seen first hand the power of representation.

Many patients from my community, when they see me, open up, sharing life experiences, wanting me to connect with their children and asking if I had a clinic they can follow up with.

As a Religious Ed teacher of first graders for the past 13 years in my local church, I have seen how much a teacher can help shape a child for good.

I believe in the power of community and I am a fierce advocate for change.

These experiences and having 6 children from 22 to 11 years born in a nation where there is still a significant disparity in health outcomes has spurred me on to form  Zebralter Medical.

Zebralter Medical is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to connecting Black Scientists to communities of Color and beyond.

Our vision is a nation where Black Scientists are the norm rather than the unexpected

Not every child will pursue a career in Science, however it matters that those who desire to, know they can find mentors and advice from others in their community.

You see, as a black female doctor, Certified in Family Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and DOT certified, when I go out to larger events for healthcare professionals, we are heavily underrepresented.

In the world of athletics we are very visible, Is it any wonder that black children lean more towards careers in athletics?

While there is nothing wrong with it, I know that more black children will consider Science if they see themselves in the Science space.

Zebralter Medical does just that. Putting our faces to careers in Science and connecting our community to Black Scientists. With Educational videos on our youtube platforms, Study Tips, on our website, Award partnership with UIUC and a database of Black Healthcare professionals, our community can see careers in STEM as a viable option.

Join us and together, we can increase the number of Black students pursuing careers in STEM

Ndidi Ojiako

I am Ndidi Ojiako, a first generation Nigerian and a graduate of the University of Illinois who is also from Burr Ridge, Illinois.

I majored in Integrative Biology with a minor in Creative writing. Poised to attend Medical school at Wisconsin Medical College in August of 2022

While in college, I was President and Treasurer of Salongo Black Student Union an experience that honed my leadership skills, and taught me new ways of leading during a pandemic

As an executive Board Member and Tutor at Vis-a-Vis UIUC, I read to grade school children and realized that reading is a tool that allows you to dream and create experiences you may never have had before. This experience became one of the highpoints of my college years as I got to know my students and fall in love with reading all over again

I was also a recipient of Wilmer E. Hellenthal Scholarship, given to premedical students for academic excellence. With this award, iit helped spur me on to continue working hard towards my dreams of becoming a doctor.

As a recipient of the President Award for historically underrepresented groups who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, I realized that my goals of doing well in college had been fulfilled and I understand even more now that with the right support you can do more than you dared dream. I look forward to paying it forward not just in my community but in every space I find myself in.

I was also a Recipient of Black Alumni Network Scholarship, given to a full-time student with a minimum 2.5 GPA.

This award opened the door to Zebralter Medical, as we went on to create an annual partnership with BAN to continue a tradition of awards to students on the Science track. Helping us further our goal of increasing diversity in STEM

I completed my undergraduate degree as a Member of the 2022 Senior 100 Award.

An award given to the top 100 students in the graduating class of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign out of more than 7,000 students.

As I look back, I am grateful to UIUC for all it has taught me and the life experiences I garnered.

In many of my STEM classes, students that looked like me were less than 3% and in some classes none.

These experiences showed me first hand the urgency of the work at hand and the need for more representation.

I am delighted to be part of Zebralter Medical, a Nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the gap in STEM.

I will bring my passion to make a difference, skills as a community leader and firsthand knowledge of what we can do differently to make Science an option for my community.

Dr. Chizoba Wonodi

Dr. Chizoba Wonodi is an Associate Scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Nigeria country director at the school’s International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC). She also serves as the director for immunization for the five-year USAID-funded MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership project. She is a public health physician with interests in vaccine research, policies, and programs to improve immunization access, coverage, and equity within integrated healthcare systems. Dr. Wonodi has nearly 30 years of public health experience, and is a recognized leader in the immunization field, where she has mentored many, assisted countries’ immunization programs, and led several multi-million-dollar research and implementation projects on innovative ways to improve capacity building, vaccination uptake and accountability for immunization services.  Her most recent work is on understanding and addressing the challenges of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and delivery.  Dr. Wonodi obtained her medical degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria, and her masters and doctorate in public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as a Gates Scholar. She founded the Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA), a coalition of Civil Society Organizations working towards improved vaccination rates in Nigeria. WAVA serves as the secretariat for the national platform, the Expanded Civil Society Initiative for Immunization (ECSII) in Nigeria. Dr. Wonodi is a member of the IA2030 Coordinating Committee, the Gavi CSO Constituency Platform Steering Committee, and the CSO representative to the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) for immunization.

With her extensive background in Public Health she brings strategic insight on how to use policies to affect change and empower communities.