Michael O. On’Gele


Hometown: Largo, MD (Prince George’s County)

Name of Undergraduate Institution: Howard University

Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Biology/Chemistry

Name of Medical School: Duke University School of Medicine

Favorite Quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman

Contact Info: Michael.ongele@duke.edu

Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?

Currently I am a 3rd Year medical student completing my research year in a basic science lab. Our lab specializes in Vascular Biology by studying protein-protein interactions and characterizing the role of endothelial proteins. In addition, I am involved with Vascular Surgery Outcomes research.

If you could go back and have a chat with your naïve college freshman self, what would you tell him?

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I would have a chat with my “freshman college self” because my journey is a little bit different. I went to the community college for two years and then transferred to Howard. So by the time I got to Howard, I was pretty focused and started out on a good trajectory to get where I am. If I could give myself advice at any point in my life, I think it would have been in high school. Growing up in the Prince George’s county public school system, I was never exposed to what “life after high school/college” could look like. So back then I couldn’t even imagine myself in medical school on the path to becoming a doctor. As I volunteer now with my organizations, teaching high school students about common surgical pathologies and treatments, I am a bit envious because these opportunities were not provided to me when I was in high school. I do believe had I been exposed to this early on, I could have avoided a lot of the situations that I encountered in high school.

What is a major challenge you have had to overcome and how did you do so?

By far the hardest challenge that I had to overcome was the passing of my father to colorectal cancer in 2010. I’ve had many challenges in my life but truly there is nothing to this date that can compare to this time in my life. My father and I had a really great relationship and he was a provider, mentor, and confidante to my siblings and me all of our lives. I was 19 years old and this was a critical junction in my transition into young adulthood as well as my matriculation through college. My father was a graduate of Howard University College of Medicine and practiced Psychiatry in Washington, D.C. for over 25 years. My father was the one who gave me the blueprint for pursuing a career in medicine, but he passed away before I made any strides in the plan that we created. There is so much advice that I could benefit from if we were able to have one more conversation now, and there are so many questions that I would want to ask him now that I have developed a lot of clinical knowledge.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?

The best advice I could give someone pursuing a career in medicine is to remember to march to the beat of your own drum. Too many compare themselves to others and believe that if one person did something one way than they should model their life/plans the exact same way. When I was in undergrad, it saddened me to see so many people comparing themselves to one another. I approached the medical school cycle knowing that my story, my journey and my credentials were unique to me so I focused all of my energy on being the best “me” that I could be. This is a tough journey and there will be many disappointments along the way, but perseverance is key.

 What do you like to do for fun?

As I have taken on this new spirit of young adulthood, I think I have found most fun in taking on new adventures and spending quality time with friends. This past August I went on a 22 mile hike in Aspen, Colorado to the Conundrum Hot Springs. This was my first major hike and it was amazing! Also, I have found a lot of joy in playing basketball (2-3 times a week) and I am becoming a better cook so I am really into trying out new recipes.

What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at your school?

Currently I serve as one of the Service Committee members for the Student Council, medical student representative for the Committee on Appropriate Treatment and one of the Co-Presidents of SNMA here at Duke. Of all of the organizations that I am involved with, being a leader for SNMA has been the most rewarding. Duke has a lot of underrepresented minorities in the medical school and being one of the leaders of this diverse group of students has been a fulfilling task. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of a great group of minority students and being able to plan events, brainstorm creative ideas and programs for the student body is amazing.

This is dope bro! Thank you for allowing us to learn from you as well as allowing us to appreciate what you have to offer Mike! I 100% agree with your advice of marching to the beat of your own drum! We also admire your perseverance! Continue to excel man!

Health Career Spotlights Home Page

Posted on January 13th, 2017

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