Damilola Olatayo thought she was going to die when she contracted malaria at age 11. But unlike many others in her native Nigeria, her family had access to health care.
She regained her health, and with it a determination to help others who don’t have that access. Fast-forward a few years, and her plans to pursue a career in global medicine were on the way to being realized. She was attending UT on a Gates Millennium Scholarship and was awarded a highly competitive White House internship when she encountered a new obstacle: She couldn’t afford the cost of living in the expensive Washington, D.C., area.
Her internship in jeopardy, she turned to President Bill Powers. Thanks to philanthropic gifts to the Office of the President, Powers was able to pitch in, and the 2013 neurobiology graduate took advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime. The White House internship gave her a chance to develop knowledge and skills she will use later in working with government on the world stage.
“The people I met, the skills I gained, and the insight that I left with will all be invaluable in helping me to bring about the type of change that I wish to see,” she said.
Olatayo has since graduated and is traveling the world to learn about health care in developing nations before she heads to medical school.