Medical Lab Tech Alum Journeys from Nigeria to Science Career in America


Although she was born in Washington, D.C., Sandra Orimilikwe left for Nigeria when she was seven years old. So, in 1993, when she returned to the United States and began taking classes at Mercer County Community College, she was new to the American college system. With some prior credits from the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, she wasted no time jumping into coursework at MCCC, earning her associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technology in 1995.

"I loved my Mercer experience," Orimilikwe said. "All of my professors, especially [Program Coordinator] Jane O'Reilly helped to prepare me for my career in medical technology." She notes that when faced with difficult assignments, she found the MCCC Learning Center and participation in study groups to be particularly helpful.

Sandra Orimilikwe

After graduating from Mercer, Orimilikwe worked as a medical lab technician in the Hematology Department at Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton for two years. Then, she was ready for new challenges. Orimilikwe moved to North Carolina to continue her education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. As an experienced lab professional, she was able to get a job in the lab at the Carolinas Healthcare System while attending school.

According to Orimilikwe, she was well-prepared for the rigors of UNC's Biology/Medical Technology degree program. "MCCC is well structured to prepare students for a four-year college. I was able to transfer most of my Mercer credits to UNC, which helped me earn my bachelor's degree in only two years," she said. She notes that with so many transferrable credits, the cost of her schooling was manageable.

Orimilikwe is now employed at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a Johnson and Johnson Company, where she formulates and tests various types of blood serum that are then sold to laboratories in the United States and abroad. "Our blood bank products help to determine blood groups and other information needed before blood transfusion. I am proud to be part of the group that carries out this life-saving work."

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