York 2018 Valedictorian: A True Example of York Academic Excellence

Ehidom (left) receiving his outstanding leadership award from the Pre-Med Club. Photo credit: Angel Adegbesan

By Angel Adegbesan  

Becoming the Valedictorian. A feature in an article. Getting into a prestigious medical school.These are three of the goals on the super secret list that Clinton Ehidom, an upper senior at CUNY York College, made for himself. Now, at the age of 20, he had accomplished all three of them.

     Ehidom, a Biology major, was selected as the valedictorian for Class of 2018. He had achieved a perfect 4.0 science major GPA and a 3.97 cumulative GPA. He has been accepted into seven medical schools including Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell University and Stony Brook University School of Medicine. He plans to attend Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and perhaps specialize in cardiothoracic surgery dealing with surgical treatment of organs inside the thorax.

His passion for biology and the human body helped fuel his motivation to achieve his goal.

        “Biology chose me,” said Ehidom, thinking back on an advanced-placement Biology class he took in high school. “I don’t choose things. I just let stuff choose me. I came into a college and wanted to be a doctor. Biology seemed like a pretty reasonable thing to do. People kept telling me not to do it because it was very difficult. They told me to do Health Science and because I was stubborn, I did what they told me not to do.”

      Ehidom also credits his passion for biology and the human body to his family. His grandfather has had many failed surgeries and his grandmother passed away due to diabetic complications. His father and aunt suffer from Cervical Radiculopathy which occurs when a nerve near the cervical vertebrae is compressed causing pain or numbness. He says that he wants to provide care for patients going through similar situations as his family.

    “I just want to be a blessing to them like someone would have been a blessing to me,” said Ehidom. “If I would have to choose any occupation in the world all over again, I would choose the same thing because it is so promising and rewarding. Also, being able to break or transcend the imaginary barrier being created in my family because we don’t have any health professionals.”

    Ehidom is a Nigerian immigrant who migrated to the Bronx with his father and two siblings at the age of 12. His mother and elder sister reside in Nigeria. Ehidom says that his inspiration in high school does not correlate with his aspiration to become a doctor. He says he was not an enthusiastic student at Frederick Douglass Academy III in the Bronx and graduated with a C+ average. His attitude changed when he enrolled at York College.

    “Clinton entered York as a shy 16 year-old boy and it has been truly amazing to watch him grow and blossom into the confident leader, mentor, and man he is today,” said Andrew Criss, York’s premedical adviser, who met Ehidom in his first year. “He has accomplished so much at such a young age and is an inspiration to his fellow students. His leadership of the club for the past two years has created an atmosphere of collaboration that was missing in recent years. He has given hope and encouragement to our members that will last well beyond his tenure here at York.”

    As a two-year president of the Cardinal Pre-Med Club, Ehidom has helped prepare students interested in careers in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy and as physician assistants. The club holds frequent Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) workshops to find resources and prepare students for internships. “We’re trying to help them become doctors and trying to help sprinkle a little bit more color in medicine,” said Ehidom.

   Nyah Yearwood, 20, Biology major, is one of Ehidom’s mentee and a member of the Pre-Med club. Yearwood finds the tips and strategies for MCAT’s tests provided by the club to be insightful. She sights visits from experienced people in the medical field as helpful for the future of medical school and a career in the medical field.

    Yearwood, who is also a Biology tutor, said that the valedictorian title is befitting of Clinton because he has earned it. She praises him because he is a hard working, determined, intelligent and humble person.

   “He is willing to take the time to help or explain to anyone,” said Yearwood. “It does not surprise me that he is going to be the valedictorian of the graduating class.”

     After his sophomore year, Ehidom participated in an aspiring six-week summer
program at Yale School of Medicine that prepares students from minority groups
to successfully apply to medical school. Among other experiences, he observed a
physician at the program to get a fuller understanding of a doctor’s daily work
and life. He was the recipient of Alumni Association scholarship for Juniors in
2017.

      Jong-Ill Lee, an associate professor of Chemistry, said Ehidom is more than a student with a high GPA. He said he deserves to be the valedictorian and more. To Lee, Ehidom is like a special son who matches his passion for the human life and humanity’s success.

       “I think it’s a beginning,” said Lee. “He’s well rounded. He’s blossoming but he hasn’t fully bloomed yet. I hope he doesn’t stop here as a medical doctor. He can work for international organizations, doing research, healing people and all kinds of things.”

     Ehidom plans to help establish programs for the Biology department and the entire academic community that would create better opportunities. These programs would be aimed at helping disadvantaged students and especially students of color who wish to start a career in medicine.

    Meanwhile, Ehidom looks back at his past four years at York and expresses gratitude towards the support of the professors like Jong-Ill Lee in chemistry, whom he considers his school godfather, and the support of his fellow students on and around campus.

      “Life at York has been great,” said Ehidom. “I’m going to miss it. It’s a unique experience especially being an ethnically diverse environment. I’m probably never going to be in an environment this diverse again.”

      Though he has not yet written his valedictorian speech, he does have ideas on what to write having dreamt about it for so long.

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