Chasing challenge, she’s pursuing a dream in global medicine

Kelechi Echeumuna always knew she wanted to be a doctor. 

“In preschool, we used to do these ‘all about me’ posters, and mine always said I wanted to be a doctor,” Echeumuna said.  

Growing up in Merrillville, Indiana, Echeumuna watched her mother work in healthcare and her father in the STEM field. This early exposure inspired her to pursue a career at the intersection of medicine and research. With parents who immigrated from Nigeria, Echeumuna came to realize the importance of giving back to the community and valuing diversity. 

“Growing up with a mix of American and Nigerian cultures made me really value diversity,” Echeumuna said. “That’s something I looked for in a school, which is one of the reasons I picked IUPUI: because of the diverse environment.” 

A diverse student body, urban environment, strong science programs, and meaningful research opportunities coalesced to form Echeumuna’s dream school in IUPUI. However, she knew she wanted even more out of her college experience. 

“I wanted to be pushed to be the best I could be,” Echeumuna, a Bepko Scholar, said. “I knew the Honors College would provide me with a rigorous academic experience, as well as the resources and support to help me grow into a stronger student and more well-rounded individual.” 

Upon arriving to IUPUI as a biology major, the Honors College was the first place Echeumuna felt a sense of community.  

I started making friends at Honors orientation,Echeumuna said.“Then I lived in the Honors [residential-based learning community] for two years where I was able to develop long-lasting relationships.” 

Her experience with the Honors RBLC motivated Echeumuna to become a resident assistant for the community. But she didn’t stop there with her Honors involvement. 

Echeumuna became a peer mentor and mentor leader, served on the Bepko Student Advisory Board, and joined Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Eta Sigma honor society. 

I started making friends at Honors orientation. Then I lived in the Honors [residential-based learning community] for two years where I was able to develop long-lasting relationships.


“I enjoy contributing to other Honors students and helping them find a community,” Echeumuna said. “My own mentor taught me so much, and I still keep in touch with her today. I wanted to give other incoming freshmen a great experience, so I became a mentor too.” 

Echeumuna also took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica, which she described as the single most impactful experience she had through the Honors College. 

“It was a worldview-changing experience,” she said of her trip, which focused on service-learning and sustainability. “We learned about biodiversity on land and in the ocean, and how decisions we make about consumption affect the whole world. It was nice to learn about the bigger picture, and it also connected to my major.”

Throughout her IUPUI experience, Echeumuna explored her research interests. As an Indiana Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation research program participant, Echeumuna’s research on alcohol use disorder continues to impact experiments that are still running today. She also served as a research intern in the Department of Biology through the Neuroscience Experience and Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. 

“I like the relationships you can form with patients and other medical professionals as a physician, but I also appreciate the role of research in the healthcare field,” she said. “Grand scale, I hope my research help people’s health and their lives overall.” 


Being in the rigorous academic environment of the Honors College has definitely prepared me to face the challenges and obstacles of medical school. It’s given me more confidence in my abilities and taught me to be a better problem solver and communicator.