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Favour Garuba: Using her gifts and talents in science to serve others

The first time Favour Garuba volunteered at the Community FoodBank of New Favour Gabura on her GraduationJersey, she saw a banner with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’” That thought has stayed with Garuba as she has contemplated how she can use her gifts in science and at the same time serve others.

Since that day at the food bank, Garuba looked for opportunities to volunteer during her college career. She has appreciated how Caldwell has exposed her to what community service means and has helped her grow as a leader who understands the importance of philanthropy. In the Health Professions Club, she enjoyed each fall when students would collect food for the “Halloween for Hunger” campaign. Garuba is proud that she was one of the founders of the African Caribbean Association, and that she and the other members fundraised for a literacy program for disadvantaged children in Ghana. As a student vice president of the prestigious honor society Phi Kappa Phi, she was excited that members held a drive this past spring and collected 336 books to promote literacy for children. She also loved working with children when she volunteered at the university’s Center for Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis.

An international student from Nigeria, she received her bachelor’s in health sciences degree on May 19.   She is grateful to the faculty members in the Natural Sciences Department, who pushed her toward excellence and encouraged her in her research endeavors.  Last year at the Independent College Fund of New Jersey Research Symposium and at Caldwell University’s Research and Creative Arts Day, she presented on the antibacterial effect of cinnamon and peppermint essential oils. Natural Sciences Professor Agnes Berki has helped her learn how to become a thorough researcher. Garuba remembers the first time she met Berki. “I was with my mom, and Dr. Berki told my mom she would ride me hard.” It was true. Berki pushed Garuba not just to do research but to do it exceptionally well. “She is like a mother to me,” says Garuba.

Garuba has also looked out for her classmates at Caldwell, always thinking, “What can we do for students?” She arranged for Health Professions Club members to watch a live surgery online at the Liberty Science Center where they communicated with the surgeon and other members of the surgical team. The goal was to expose students to as many health care fields as possible so they could make educated decisions about career goals, she says.

Garuba was an orientation leader, worked in the Academic Success Center and in the Accounts Payable Office where learning to be accurate with numbers, she says, will help if she becomes a physician.

She currently volunteers at Overlook Medical Center and has set her sights on improving health on a global level as a clinician and researcher. At a recent program of the National Society of Leadership and Success, Garuba was tasked with writing down her gifts. Her answers were “intelligence, charisma, problem solving and diligence.” She knows they are not gifts just for herself and she is particularly interested in using her abilities in preventive care, “much cheaper and less invasive than treatment.” She points to her native Africa where natural products can aid in health. It all comes back to that banner with the quote from MLK Jr.: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’” And her answer? “I would like to dedicate my services as a physician and researcher to improve health in a way that reaches every community, including those in disadvantaged areas.”