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College of Nursing


Drive for excellence brings PhD student around the world

Posted October 1, 2015
By Annie Lambert, Director of Alumni Engagement


For Chigozie Nkwonta, a career in health care was never in question. Her father, a retired civil servant in Nkwonta’s native Anambra state in southeastern Nigeria, encouraged her to follow in the footsteps of her elder sister who is a nurse.

“I remember my father stating when my elder sisters graduated from high school, ‘You must study a health profession ... I want to be sure that you will have a good job regardless of what the society or economy presents,’” Nkwonta recalled.

She took his words to heart. In 2002, Nkwonta began studying at Madonna University in Okija, Nigeria, from where she earned her Bachelor of Nursing Science degree in 2008. She continued her education, earning a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria in 2011. Currently a doctoral student at the USC College of Nursing, Nkwonta plans to be a full-time researcher and lecturer upon degree completion.

Nkwonta has a research interest in cervical cancer, and is considering the role and involvement men may have in reducing the incidents of cervical cancer in Nigeria. This focus is not a far cry from Nkwonta’s experience as a midwife.

“Childbirth is a world celebrated event, so you can’t imagine the privilege to be the one to put a smile on so many faces,” Nkwonta said. “Delivering mothers of their babies gives me this unimaginable joy.”

Nkwonta came to the University of South Carolina for her Ph.D. in order to better her skills as a researcher and lecturer. She says it is necessary to earn her doctorate so she may acquire the skills and knowledge that will help further her career and contribute more to the field of nursing, which is constantly growing and evolving.

Nkwonta attributes the growth of the field of nursing to society realizing the unique function and role of nurses, and says that the profession is actively identifying what makes their care and practice special.

“Nurses are increasingly studying and improving themselves. So many are pursuing graduate studies in different specialties and areas,” Nkwonta said.

At the heart of it all, Nkwonta says that nursing is a “great and caring profession” that will always be relevant to society.

“It is the easiest and most common way to lighten someone’s world and put smiles on faces.”