Spring 2014

Hoop Dreams

Playing basketball at a high level lay the groundwork for a career in medicine

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Timiyin E-Nunu, M.D./M.P.H. '14. Photo: Kelvin Ma

Being the smallest kid in the family is not always so bad. Growing up in suburban California, the daughter of Nigerian emigrants, Timiyin E-Nunu, M.D./M.P.H.,’14 (known as “Timi” to her friends), played basketball with her three brothers, at 6 feet, 2 inches; 6 feet, 4 inches and 6 feet, 10 inches tall. E-Nunu, who stands an inch shy of six feet, honed her defensive skills in a dense tangle of fraternal arms and legs. She picked up a bevy of quick, darting moves and subsequently earned a full athletic scholarship to the University of New Mexico, where she played small forward on the school’s highly ranked NCAA Division I basketball team.

It was no easy layup. The program demanded a daily minimum of six hours of weightlifting, running, conditioning and full-court practice, making it a challenge to meet academic performance goals. A double major in biology and chemistry, E-Nunu distinguished herself through her tough-minded defense out on the court. “I was the defensive specialist,” she says. “I would guard the star of the opposing team.”

E-Nunu has done all the backcourt drills. Now she intends to become a surgeon. A frequent landing spot for former athletes, the field of surgery offers some familiar comforts, she explains, from the strong team atmosphere that’s intrinsic to the success of any operation to the hierarchy that keeps things organized and clear as a winning shot drained from three-point range. “It kind of feels like home,” she says.

 

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