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Sommer Scholars

Thomas Onyia

Master of Public Health/Master of Business Administration Student

Born poor in a small town in Cameroon, Thomas Onyia lost his mother at an early age. He had watched as she suffered from often preventable diseases and sought care in an ill-equipped local hospital. To help fill the emptiness left by her death, he became a leader of his high school’s Family Life Club and brought HIV/ AIDS prevention programs to villagers. When the local people proved reluctant to attend information sessions, Onyia reached them by partnering with Christian prayer groups. A fter high school, Onyia emigrated to the United States and attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he worked with the Black Latino AIDS Project. Later, as a medical student in San Diego, he worked with low-income people at that school’s free nutrition clinic. In both Cameroon and California, he observed that funding issues often constrain worthy health programs. It was Leah Kern, MD, MPH ’09, a health worker in Africa, who encouraged Onyia to pursue graduate study at the Bloomberg School, her alma mater. Now working toward an MBA and MPH, Onyia intends to focus his efforts on sub- Saharan Africa. His goal is to drastically reduce the number of HIV-positive mothers, ultimately eliminating HIV and AIDS there. “I expect to develop the skills needed to provide sustainability to great programs, using business strategies for the community’s greater good,” he says. 6: Onyia was born on the sixth; is one of six children in his family; and arrived in the U.S. on the sixth day of May. Maryland is the sixth state he visited, and six goals are the most he scored in a soccer game.