Rita K. Adeniran, DrNP ’11

“Drexel helps you be the best version of yourself. It’s where the sky is the limit,” says Rita K. Adeniran, DrNP ’11. For Adeniran, life experience inspired a passion for nursing, helping other nurses reach their full potential, and promoting the value of inclusion. Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions (CNHP) gave her the tools to be an important contributor to the field.

“I grew up in a village in Nigeria,” says Adeniran. “I didn’t fully understand what nurses do, but I thought of them as smart and professional. I dreamed of being one of them.” She was adamant about following that dream despite facing considerable discrimination. “I was a confident and intelligent girl in a patriarchal society,” she explains. “Sometimes books were not purchased for me because I was considered a waste of resources.”

In nursing school, she encountered the same barriers. In Nigeria, nurses are groomed to be subordinate to physicians. “I loved nursing, but there were limitations for advancement,” she says.

Moving to the United States was life changing. “Nursing in the U.S. is everything I wanted it to be,” says Adeniran. “As a nurse, I could use my brain. I provide specialized care, advocate for patients, and leverage my critical thinking skills, working side by side with physicians and other members of the interprofessional care team for the best health outcomes.”

She pursued advanced education in nursing knowing that it was the key to fulfilling her ambitions.

Still, she sometimes struggled to be seen as capable and accomplished as she was. “People saw my differences — my born country and my accent — and equated those differences with lower intelligence,” she says.

Drexel was different. Adeniran came to Drexel to earn her doctorate in nursing practice, an important step to reaching executive levels of health care administration, and she felt accepted right away. “Drexel really values diversity and empowered me by letting me know I belonged,” she says.

Drexel’s emphasis on experiential education stood out to Adeniran. As a student, she was also working full time as a Global Nurse Ambassador in the University of Pennsylvania’s Health System. She says that everything she did at Drexel applied directly to her work as a Global Nurse Ambassador and to her development of inclusion programs for both American and internationally trained nurses. “When nurses of diverse backgrounds understand, include and listen to each other, and when they have opportunities for professional advancement, quality of care for patients improves,” she says.

Today, Adeniran continues the work of opportunity and inclusion as assistant clinical professor of Drexel’s CNHP and as president and CEO of Innovative and Inclusive Global Solutions, a Philadelphia-area consulting firm that helps health care organizations maximize the potential of their diverse staffs.

Reflecting upon Drexel’s role in her life, Adeniran remarks, “Drexel equipped me with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to advance in my profession. I could not be prouder to be a faculty member, and I give back regularly to advance academic excellence and expand research. I’m proud to be a Dragon!”

Supporting health care providers is more important than ever.

Around the world, nurses and midwives are often the main or only providers of health care in their communities. The World Health Organization has named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife to honor the critical role they play in serving the public and to advocate for greater investment in the field. Here at Drexel, we’re celebrating by showcasing the tremendous accomplishments of the College of Nursing and Health Professions and its alumni.