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Inspired by Her Birth Story

Vineland native is a Class of 2024, Senior to Remember at Connell School of Nursing, Boston College.

by Kathleen Sullivan
Photography by Lee Pellegrini

Vineland native Oluchi Ota, who recently graduated from Boston College’s Connell School of Nursing, was selected as one of the Class of 2024 Seniors to Remember.

In a sense, Ota’s education and planned career in nursing began just as she was born. Her mother Amanda bonded so deeply with her labor and delivery coach that they became close friends and Oluchi always saw her as a role model and inspiration. Now, she will be launching a career that she hopes will eventually lead to a practice as a midwife.

Ota’s college achievements were notable and her future looks bright. Her story is told here.

The following content originally appeared as the main feature in University Communications at Boston College (BC) and is reprinted here with permission.

Oluchi Ota, Class of 2024 – Seniors to Remember

• Notable Activities/Achievements:

Student board member, Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society; delegate, COP27; treasurer, Bioethics Society of Boston College; student representative, University Committee on Core Renewal; studied abroad at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne; patient care associate, Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

When Oluchi Ota graduated, one of the people cheering her on in Alumni Stadium was the labor and delivery nurse who helped to bring her into the world. Ota’s mother Amanda Ota forged a close bond with the labor and delivery nurse who cared for her during her labor with her daughter.

The bond was so profound that the nurse was chosen to be Ota’s godmother. Ota’s choice to pursue a career as a labor and delivery nurse is inspired by the connection her godmother made with Amanda. Ota is specifically interested in the impact environmental factors can have on maternal health—from prenatal to postpartum.

• What was your favorite clinical experience as a nursing student?

It would have to be my general maternity clinical at Boston Medical Center. I loved the patient population at Boston Medical. It has a high immigrant population. My mom is from South Africa and my dad is Nigerian. It was my first time having so many patients that were of a similar identity as me, so it felt a lot more personal.

Because they understand their patient population, Boston Medical has a different approach to care and they’re known for doing that very well. It was nice to learn under that kind of institution. One of my last days, I met a Nigerian family from the same tribe as me. Their midwife and the physician were from the same tribe, too. We were in the room together playing music from Nigeria as the mother was pushing. It was a really beautiful labor progression.

• You served as a delegate to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Egypt (COP27). What was that experience like?

I took a class called Environment and Public Health with Kumar Praveen. He attended COP26 in the U.K. and shared his experiences with the class. It sounded so amazing that when the applications came out to attend COP27, I knew I wanted to try for it.

The conference was great. You learn about how the world functions and the different social factors that influence decisions that people in power make. There was a lot of discussion about equity and inclusion and the balance of powers. The UN is supposed to be an equalizer, but even in that setting you could see that certain countries had money they could invest in big pavilions and lower-income countries had smaller pavilions that got less traction and had fewer people staffing them. Funding affects representation. As a BC student, I felt a great privilege being there. It’s unfortunate that so many students from other countries that deserve to be there weren’t there.

In terms of climate anxiety, it was overwhelming. You see slow progression or no progression in some areas. It was definitely a lot to sit with after coming back.

• How did attending COP27 lead to your involvement in the Schiller Institute for Integrated Science and Society?

After COP27, I did some debriefing programming sponsored by Schiller. Schiller reached out about joining a student board they were developing. Schiller’s always very open to listening to what students have to say and then working on how they can do things better. For COP, for example, you take a one-credit course before you go. So as a member of the student board, I got to give feedback so the course could be even better for the next students who go to COP.

Another neat thing that Schiller does is that they have their student board members participate in new faculty interviews. When there’s a new hire, there’ll be sign-ups for the Schiller board students to have lunch with them. It gives us a chance to ask the new faculty questions and hear what they do and what they’ll bring to BC. And then they also ask us what we’ve been working on, so they can understand what BC is about and see what they could put in their coursework. It’s one of the most exciting things that we do as student board members. Schiller continuously makes us feel like we are being heard and are a part of the change that Schiller wants to make.

• What will you miss most after graduation?

I went to a boarding school before BC. So I’ve been used to living on a campus for almost half of my life. I’m going to miss that ease of being able to find community just with those that I’m learning with and also learning from them. I’m hit with the reality that I will not always be a door down from my close friend. It’s also the little things. When I walk to class now, smiling faces, pleasant exchanges, or random walk-ins at the elevator can just help you get through your day. You’re not necessarily going to have that when you leave here, especially in a city.

But I know that BC has been a really good exercise in learning how to build community, even if it’s not still under the structure of an academic institution. I think that the relationships that I’ve been able to form here have really made me feel confident that once I do go out into these more unpredictable and vulnerable spaces, I’ll still be able to stand up on my own two feet and say and understand what I want from the people around me and curate another community for myself.

Ota’s post-graduation plans are to take the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) this summer and then work in New York as a labor and delivery nurse and, ultimately, as a midwife.