As a kid, Dr. Ijeoma Kola wanted to be a pediatrician but when she took science in college she realized that she was more interested in the history of science. She wanted to focus more on our lived experiences with health and disease rather than looking at it on a molecular level. While in academia, she faced many challenges as the youngest person in her cohort, using her voice in graduate school, and feeling like her work was not valued.
After seeing two faculty members fired in her department, Dr. Kola started looking to non-academic work because she felt that there was no security or loyalty. She took a leave of absence from her program after her second year. She withdrew from all courses 6-weeks into the semester and started doing hair out of her apartment. It was after she had received an NSF grant that she decided to go back and finish her degree. She did not have anyone to get helpful guidance or mentorship from until her fourth year when a new faculty came in. She continued to research the intellectual and environmental history of asthma and its relationship with race.
We discuss how asthma was believed to only occur in white people and the time in which it became accepted that other people could get the condition as well. There was an article written that said that the civil rights movement and Black people’s hate toward white people caused Black people to have asthma. We discuss what are the risk factors of asthma and ways of coping with it.
About Dr. Ijeoma Kola
Dr. Ijeoma Kola is a historian of public health, entrepreneur, and lifestyle blogger. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University, where she studied the cultural and intellectual history of asthma in African Americans. A blogging veteran, Dr. Kola has been creating beauty, style, travel, and lifestyle content to inspire women of color for ten years.
Dr. Kola has produced visually appealing and conversation-starting digital content for companies such as Uber, Sephora, Away, and Michael Kors. She recently launched Cohort Sistas, an online support network for Black women at all stages of the doctoral degree process. Born in Nigeria and raised in New Jersey, she currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya with her husband and baby.
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