Student Spotlight: Frances Akwuole

Class president reflects on Stritch’s supportive culture, impactful researchFrances Akwuole

By Sam Uhlarik

January 10, 2022

Although she now is class president for the Stritch School of Medicine Class of 2024, Frances Akwuole still vividly remembers the welcoming nature of the Stritch community during her first moments on campus. And in addition to her responsibilities as president, Frances is conducting postpartum research with the potential to improve care that new moms receive. Learn more about Frances:

What do you like about being the M2 Class President?

As the Class of 2024 President, I lead board meetings, host class-wide town halls, participate in Dean's meetings, facilitate course evaluations, plan class initiatives, foster community, and ensure communication between students and administration. Although this role can be time-consuming, I truly enjoy it. I strive to make the Stritch experience the best it can be for my classmates, especially through these difficult COVID circumstances. My favorite part about my role as president is actively getting to know my classmates and colleagues, as well as implementing initiatives that energize and make positive impacts on our school community.

Why is your work important to you?

The most prominent project that I am working on is in Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Postpartum mortality and morbidity are more common than most people—even new mothers—think. Many patients don’t attend their six-week follow-up appointments. Due to the high rate of mortality and complications within two weeks post-delivery, there is a growing push to move follow-up appointments to two weeks after delivery. My research revolves around determining if early access to postpartum care and preventive measures during these early access appointments help decrease postpartum readmissions and mortality. My research reflects my passion for empowering women and addressing the health disparities we face. The data my research provides may help push our hospitals and healthcare systems to implement protocols that improve the quality of women’s health, especially for new moms living in underserved communities.

How have Stritch faculty mentored you during your studies and research?

Mentorship has been a crucial aspect of my medical school journey. My research mentor, Dr. Jean Goodman, has helped me explore my interests in research. She has given me insights on what it is like to conduct research at this level. My PCM1 mentors, Drs. Eugene Lee and Amrita Mankani, also were a source of guidance when I was introduced to clinical skills. Their knowledge and support helped me become more confident in each activity we did. Lastly, my CASCADE mentor, Dr. Gregory Ozark, has been an example of the type of leader I aspire to be.

Why did you choose Stritch?

Stritch is one of a kind. Ever since I stepped foot on this campus for my interview, I have received nothing but love, kindness, and warmth. I was the first student to arrive for my interview day. As I sat in a corner of the atrium reviewing my notes, an M3 student greeted me. I looked up, feeling relieved that I had someone to talk with—he calmed my nerves and gave me advice. We talked about the homelessness crisis in Chicago, about his rotations, and more. I completely forgot I was there for an interview because a Stritch student took time out of their day to make me feel at ease.

I also was able to connect with Tina Marino from Admissions. She may not know this, but she was one of the three main reasons I decided to attend Loyola. She was very interested in learning about my journey and me. I felt seen, appreciated, and most importantly, happy. I made a promise to myself that I would attend a medical school that not only could mold me to be an excellent physician but also could make me feel fulfilled. The culture of Loyola is what unites students, faculty, and everyone in between. We are all genuine people who want to serve others as if they are our own family. We can be comforted by the fact that we will always support each other, even through hardships.