Leonel Awokang headshot

Leonel Awokang

It was a surreal moment for Leonel Awokang (D.C. '22) when he received his white coat at the Transitions Ceremony, where 7th trimester students are honored and awarded with the emblematic white coat of a medical professional. 

"I started thinking, 'wow, this is why my parents brought us to America [from his native Cameroon]-- so we can have better opportunities.' Receiving my white coat was a proud moment. I felt at home and humbled at the realization I'm moving closer to my purpose in this world, which is to help people. At that moment everything just felt right."

Awokang, who is on track to graduate this year, is moving closer to his goals every day. Currently, that includes participating in one of the honors remote clerkships at the C.W. Bill Young Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bay Pines, Florida. Before that, he interned at the Northeast College Depew Health Center in Buffalo.

Awokang says he's thriving in the busy clinical world of the VA Medical Center. He sees patients throughout the day, consulting on the best course of treatment in conjunction with a doctor who oversees his work. Prior to seeing the patients, Awokang looks for information from x-rays, labs, and more to give him a thorough picture of the patient. He and the overseeing doctor discuss each case, formulating a diagnosis and treatment plan if they decide that the patient is a good candidate for care. "I will also have rotations with physical therapy, pain management, and the orthopedic surgeons at the VA to see how they run their clinic," he says.

His training, Awokang says, more than prepared him for the rigors of clinical work. "My education at Northeast has been incredible, truthfully. They almost over-prepare you for clinic, giving you all the information you need. Of course, you always feel nervous and don't really realize how well prepared you are until you start."

His nervousness long abated, Awokang looks ahead to a bright future. "The culture I was raised in is rooted in community and family," he says. "I hope to be a bridge bringing my education and experiences to my community and giving them support, which is not so well represented not only in my community but in that of communities like mine and people who look like me."

From the moment I stepped foot on campus I felt like this was the best place and environment for me to thrive. My goal is to build a community where health is a lifestyle and focuses on empowering the patients …

Quick Questions with Doctor of Chiropractic Student Leo Awokang

What is your motivation for becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic?
Ever since I was young, I've always had this urge to help people. I would get in trouble when I was younger because I would help my classmates with assignments in first and second grade. It wasn't that I was so much smarter, but I always wanted to help. 

How does being the child of immigrants to the U.S. impact your world view?
My world view is a mixture or both my African culture and being raised in America.  I find real happiness in providing a service to people that helps them have better outcomes when it comes to pain and health. My goal is to build a community where health is a lifestyle and focuses on empowering the patients with the knowledge and tools to take care of themselves.

How would you describe the #NortheastBlue community?
The Northeast community is great. Honestly, from the moment I stepped foot on campus for my initial interview I felt like this was the best place and environment for me to thrive. As I approach the end of the program now, I am extremely happy with my experience at Northeast. The teachers, the staff, and everyone makes you feel welcomed and are always ready to help. But they also challenge you push yourself. I've built some relationships that will last a lifetime.