Meet Martina Chukwuma-Ezike, first black female rector of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland

Almost everyday we hear of Nigerians reaching great heights in different parts of the world. Whether in entertainment, sports, education, inventions or politics, Nigerians continue to be the pride of the country and indeed the continent.

One such person is Martina Chukwuma-Ezike, the first woman of color to be elected rector of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, a former position that dates back to the founding of the University in 1495 and is voted by the students.

With an impeccable background and a heart for public service and philanthropy, Martina Chukwuma-Ezike has been chosen to lead the university, which has a community of more than 130 nationalities, towards excellence.

Schooling

Martina Chukwuma-Ezike was born in Nigeria in 1981 to Nigerian parents from Eastern Nigeria. Before moving to Scotland, UK at age 27 for a Masters programme, she had her basic education in Nigeria.

Martina first graduated from the University of Calabar, Cross River State in Social Work from 1999 to 2001. After graduation, she started her degree in Sociology in 2002 where she graduated in 2005 with a B. sc.

After a brief stint working at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, she moved to the UK where she earned an MBA from the University of Aberdeen.

Career and business experience

Before moving to the UK, she worked with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Nigeria. However, she started her career as a social worker in 1999, the same year she started her degree. She was responsible for providing mental health services to people with high needs.

Her job description allowed her to occupy several management positions where she acquired expertise in budget and planning, sales and marketing.

She has also worked in different sectors, ranging from oil and gas, health, social care and automotive, refusing to limit herself to one industry. As part of her work, she acted as an intermediary between hospitals and the government on the “no one is left behind” project.

While working on the project which received federal government funding, it was his duty to ensure that newly released clients had access to vocational training to help them learn essential skills and reintegrate into society. .

Funding also covered the cost of purchasing equipment to ensure clients pursuing careers in carpentry, sewing, hairdressing and beauty, etc., had access to necessary equipment and ongoing support.

The Big Leap to Charity

Moving to the UK after being diagnosed with asthma has made it harder to fight the disease and surviving it has become even more important. She had several asthma attacks and was diagnosed with fragile asthma, a severe case of asthma that made her studies very difficult.

Seeking help and a solution, she arranged a meeting with Neil Churchill, the managing director of Charity Asthma UK at the time, and insisted a service was desperately needed in Aberdeen.

In 2009 Martina founded the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, the only dedicated asthma charity in Scotland. The charity set up the UK’s first Asthma Support Center to provide support services for people with asthma and allergies in the North East of Scotland.

The foundation was granted charitable status on November 17, 2011 and has helped asthma sufferers across the country manage their symptoms.

Become the first person of color to become rector of the University of Aberdeen

After graduating, Martina developed her academic connection to mentoring, career counseling and providing volunteer opportunities for young people, including medical students who worked directly with people with asthma.

On November 19, 2021, she was elected by the student rector of the university. On March 28, she became the first black rector of the University of Aberdeen, an ancient position that dates back to the founding of the University in 1495 and is determined by student vote.

It is a position that has already been occupied by several names of nobles who have had a strong impact in their domains. Past University of Aberdeen rectors include Sir Winston Churchill, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and television presenter Clarissa Dickson Wright.

Other notable works

Martina co-developed the Grampian Respiratory Improvement Project for NHSG and is a member of the Grampian Respiratory Improvement Group. She is a member of the Cross-Party Group on Lung Health in the Scottish Parliament and a member of the Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organizations where she joins in mentoring and supporting newly appointed CEOs.

She is a supporter of businesswomen and an active mentor to business owners across the UK. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturing, and Commerce, awarded because of the tremendous work she has done to support the 5.4 million people with asthma across the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Private life

She is married to Uchenna Chukwuma-Ezike, a licensed chemist and scientist from Anambra State, Nigeria.

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