Fourth-year earns scholarship to pursue medical degree, global leadership program

Ade Ayoola named one of 49 Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University

Ade Ayoola, a fourth-year student in the College, has been selected as one of 49 inaugural Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University. Ayoola will receive full funding to pursue a medical degree from the Stanford School of Medicine while participating in the scholarship’s global leadership program.

The new scholarship program aims to provide a new generation of global leaders with the skills to develop solutions to the world’s most complicated challenges. The cohort of scholars was selected from a pool of more than 3,600 applicants based on their demonstration of independence of thought, purposeful leadership and civic mindset. Each recipient will be offered leadership training, mentorship and experiential learning opportunities.

“The College takes great pride that Ade is one of the first students worldwide to receive this scholarship, and that this experience will allow her to continue her pursuit of improving health care globally,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. “Ade’s achievements are a testament to the dedication that our students have to improving the welfare of their communities.”

Building upon her experiences in the College and drawing from the opportunities provided by the scholarship program, Ayoola hopes to practice medicine as a physician and conduct research to address global health concerns, such as improving access to quality health care and building healthier communities for those most severely underserved, particularly in Africa.

“The Knight-Hennessy scholarship will give me essential training and opportunities to pursue a career of impact in health care,” said Ayoola. “I will grow and learn alongside a group of peers and faculty who share my interest in tackling global issues and who act in spite of the unknowns. It’s an experience that will allow me to change the world for the better.” 

As a pre-med student majoring in biological chemistry, Ayoola has been committed to expanding her pursuit of medicine beyond her formal academic training. Her interest in addressing health disparities was first sparked in 2015 by her experience working with BUILD Chicago, a nonprofit that aims to increase the educational and career outcomes of at-risk youth on the south and west sides of Chicago. Her work involved researching health issues among teenagers and young adults and using that information to design programs to better address these health concerns.

In 2016, she studied diabetes in Ibadan, Nigeria as a fellow with the Center for Global Health. Working with UChicago Prof. Louis Philipson, her project examined the lack of information concerning African patients, as well as methods of diagnosing, treating and managing diabetes in low-resource settings.

Returning to Nigeria, where she was born and raised, was a formative and personal experience for Ayoola.

“Being in Nigeria affirmed my desire to make a change that positively affects our global community,” said Ayoola. “I saw that to truly improve health as a physician, I had to understand current barriers to receiving quality health care, how to create effective health policies and how to implement them with a focus on what’s best for the community.”

Ayoola’s accomplishments also extend beyond the classroom. As a standout track and field scholar-athlete, she was an NCAA national qualifier and University Athletic Association champion in the outdoor high jump this past season. She holds the UChicago school record in the event and has earned UAA all-academic honors the past two seasons.

“Ade’s willingness to improve in all facets of life is something all coaches hope for in an athlete,” said Stephen Fleagle, UChicago assistant track and field coach. “Her tireless pursuit of greatness on and off the field makes her extraordinarily worthy of this award.”

In addition, Ayoola sought out co-curricular activities to further her exposure to the social determinants of health. She engaged in extensive research centered around Maturity Onset Diabetes of the Young and mutations that lead to monogenic diabetes. She also volunteered at the University of Chicago Medicine, and explored critical policy concerns relevant to health care through the Health Policy Scholars program.

Ayoola attends UChicago with the help of the Questbridge scholarship program and UChicago’s Odyssey scholarship, which help ensure students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to achieve academic success. She was supported throughout her application process by the College Center for Scholarly Advancement, which supports all undergraduates and College alumni through the highly competitive application processes for prestigious national scholarships and fellowships.