Paying Priceless Forward

As a kid growing up in South Holland, Illinois, Enyinnaya Omelogu always wanted to follow in his parents’ footsteps and join the healthcare community. He witnessed the humbling and fulfilling emotions his mother Deborah would experience. She told Enyinnaya “joy and sorrow are not unusual on any given shift.”

As a proud graduate of Thornwood High School, Enyinnaya didn’t immediately pursue his calling when he enrolled at the local community college. After two years at South Suburban College taking general education courses, Enyinnaya enrolled at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) from 1999-2004 where his healthcare passion was reignited. Enyinnaya decided to return to his roots by applying to SSC’s Nursing Program.

“My goal was simply to become the best person that I could be.”

Another reason Enyinnaya says he pursued nursing is because of its variety of pathways. He could focus on specialties like dialysis or family medicine. Other nursing options included anesthesia or emergency room nursing like his mother. As a visual learner, he excelled in SSC’s hands-on Nursing Program curriculum. “The small class sizes were a great asset to me,” said Enyinnaya, who especially enjoyed his clinical rotations shadowing nurses and other healthcare providers.

Enyinnaya completed his degree in 2009 and passed the NCLEX soon after. Further training was accomplished in the hospital setting where he collaborated with physicians and other medical personnel to coordinate patient care. He performed detailed assessments on patients, and learned how to provide compassionate care. Enyinnaya took advantage of his opportunities and continued to obtain additional credentials by earning his Master’s Degree in Anesthesiology from Barry University in Florida.

Enyinnaya credits his community college education for giving him an opportunity to combine his general studies and nursing education at two different times in his life at a more affordable cost. “The return on investment allows nurses to provide compassionate care for others and still enjoy a fulfilling lifestyle.”

Armed with three degrees, Enyinnaya was able to smoothly transition from Registered Nurse (RN) to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). He is currently employed at NorthStar Anesthesia. He works with surgeons and other medical staff to provide anesthesia for patients undergoing medical procedures. Enyinnaya often thinks of his mother while paying his experiences forward. He serves as a preceptor to nursing school students as well as anesthesia students/medical students, teaching them the inner workings of anesthesia in the operating room.

Moreover, Enyinnaya continues to pay it forward in more than one way. He started a scholarship in memory of his cousin Chima, who passed away after a long fight with cancer. Because of the phenomenal nurses who took care of his cousin, Enyinnaya thought it would only be appropriate to fund a nursing education scholarship. He established the Chima Omelogu Memorial Fund at SSC in 2017 by raising monies with friends. The goal of the scholarship is to fund four $1,000 scholarships for nursing students annually.

Enyinnaya says “making a difference in someone’s life is priceless.” Or in his case, making the difference in several lives.