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A Lifetime of Nursing: RIC Alumna Taiwo Sodipo-Kuforiji
Taiwo Sodipo-Kuforiji ’13 (Photo credit: Island Photography)
“Nursing called to me at an early age,” said Taiwo Sodipo-Kuforiji, a native of Nigeria. The youngest of 10 children, she recalled tending to her diabetic grandmother as a child. “After checking on her, I would tell my mother how she was doing. I’d say, ‘Grandma is very sweaty’ or `Grandma is taking more sugar’ or `Grandma is eating too much foo foo,’ which is all starch,” she said. “In elementary school I asked my mother to make me a nurse uniform and hat, which I wore everywhere. Everyone would call me Nurse Taiwo.”
After completing her nursing requirements at the Ogun State School of Nursing and the University College Hospital, Sodipo-Kuforiji engaged in a residency in the village of Owode. “The community was very impoverished,” she said. “At times they had no electricity or running water.” She and four other young residents initiated a health education project that involved teaching the villagers how to feed their malnourished children with their primary cash crop – soybeans.
“We encouraged them to put soybeans in their egusi soup, to use it to make soybean cake and soy milk,” she said. “Not long after, the children’s cheeks started coming out plump and just beautiful. My colleagues and I had empowered the entire community.”
When Sodipo-Kuforiji’s mother died unexpectedly in 1990, she flew to the United States to live with her brother in Rhode Island. By 1992 she had taken the registered nurse board exam and passed and had begun practicing at rehabilitation and assisted living facilities in Providence. By 2002 she had advanced to her current position of administrative nurse at Scandinavian Home in Cranston. There she manages the entire assisted living segment of the facility. “But I could also see that nursing was evolving,” she said, “and I wanted to learn more.” In 2010 she enrolled at Rhode Island College in the RN to BSN program. She said it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
“I had no idea of the depth of knowledge I would receive at RIC,“ she said. “I used to rave about my education in Nigeria because I knew they taught us well. But when I enrolled at Rhode Island College, I learned so many things that have impacted how I see and live my nursing experience. I was challenged and stretched in so many positive ways that have affected the care I offer to others. In every single class I had, I was able to take something back to my job. As I’m learning, I would go back to my staff at Scandinavian Home and say, ‘Let’s see how we can do things better.’”
In 2013 Sodipo-Kuforiji delivered a speech to her graduating class where she spoke of nursing as “a common culture.” She said, “Nurses speak different languages and have different cultures, but when it comes to our profession, we all speak the same language of healing, courage, hope and love. Our common culture is our passion for those we care for, and we have all grown in these qualities here at Rhode Island College.”