2018’s “Mr. Senior” Starts a New Chapter
Eteete Dan-Udoka (B.S. ’18) knew that he wanted to study biology and was drawn to NYIT because of its great reputation. “The study of the human body and [its] functions always fascinated me,” says Dan-Udoka, who plans to pursue dentistry. “I wanted to be able to use my passion for helping my community and the study of science to better healthcare and humanity.” When he was elected NYIT’s “Mr. Senior” in 2018, it was a culminating moment of an extremely successful academic career and student life at NYIT.
As a student, Dan-Udoka made sure to do more than keep his nose in the books: He founded an organization, participated in research studies, and helped those with Parkinson’s disease. Working with Associate Professor Claude Gagna, Ph.D., he took part in an ongoing study on Neanderthal facial-cranial reconstruction to gain a better understanding on the relationship between humans and Neanderthals. “The two groups share more similarities than you might imagine,” he says. The team used a 3D scanner to examine the cranial cavity, facial muscles, and facial features and a 3D printer to create a reference Neanderthal and human cranium model.
In addition to his research and pre-med course load, Dan-Udoka was a presenter at NYIT’s Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE), a resident assistant, an intramural basketball champion (2017, and 2018), and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and TriBeta Honor Society. He also volunteered for the Rock Steady Boxing program, where he helped patients with Parkinson’s disease hone their strength and motor skills. “At first it was tough because you had to adapt to each individual—some patients need more assistance than others,” he says. “But after you complete each class, the joy of seeing the patients be active and feel normal is really amazing.”
But the accomplishment he is most proud of is founding the NYIT Black Student Union (BSU). “When I founded BSU in Old Westbury, it was one of many moments [when] I knew NYIT was the place for me,” he says. “This is a trying time for people who are Black, and I felt we needed a voice. Someone needed to advocate for the Black community at NYIT, and Black students needed to have a place where they felt comfortable to express their feelings about current political and social issues.”
It is this kind of drive and desire to help others that will help Dan-Udoka when he attends dental school next year. In the meantime, he is shadowing orthodontists and working as a dental assistant at a dental clinic. “The field of study is continuously growing, and there is always something new to learn. There is so much research to be done and innovations to be made.”