July 14, 2024

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Meet the 2024 winners of the Robert Kemper Award for Professionalism in Medicine | Key Biscayne

6 min read

“Squeamish” is certainly not a word associated with physicians.

Future medical doctor Oreoluwa Olorunlogbon wants to keep it that way.

“My dad was a pharmacist in Nigeria, and he used to tell me he wanted to be a doctor. But, he didn’t like blood,” he said, laughing. “I was always worried … but I’m really fascinated by the science of it all. It’s like a puzzle, not only how to unravel and solve, but to create new things.

young Ore with his mom in Nigeria image0.jpeg

Young Ore with his mom in Nigeria.

“It’s a little morbid, I guess. But the fascinating part of medicine is that once you learn how all the individual pieces work, you learn not just how to treat them, but to prevent them and enhance what we already have to make it better.”

“Ore,” as he is fondly referred to, joins Florida International University classmate Brooke Schwartz as this year’s winners of the Robert Kemper Award for Professionalism in Medicine, bestowed annually by faculty to superior students studying medicine at FIU.

The ceremony, presented by the Key Biscayne Community Foundation and the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at FIU, takes place from 6-8 p.m. on April 10 at the Key Biscayne Yacht Club.

Schwartz, 26, grew up in Parkland and knew, by middle school, she wanted to be a doctor.

“I really liked doing fun science experiments,” she said. “My mom always liked science and would give me fun things to read.”

She said dissecting frogs was “definitely a fun part of high school,” but her oldest brother, Brandon, was applying for medical school at that point, so that kept her interest, too.

But she’s not planning to be a surgeon. After she graduates in May with her doctorate degree, she will attend Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for her three-year residency, which is associated with the Baylor College of Medicine.

Kemper Award winner Brooke Schwartz IMG_6317.jpg

Kemper Award winner Brooke Schwartz.

“It’s my first time leaving Florida … I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s good to branch out and it will be good to see how a medical center functions, but I definitely want to come back (home).”

Schwartz completed her undergraduate education at the University of Florida, where she majored in Biology. Before matriculating into medical school, she earned a Molecular and Biomedical Sciences certificate at FIU. Her dedication to providing humanistic patient care earned her Gold Humanism Honor Society membership.

One of her most meaningful medical school experiences was rotating at a free clinic, UHI CommunityCare, in Miami Gardens. There, she fell in love with pediatrics and was able to connect with and help treat underserved families.

During medical school, she also led a research project on firearm violence prevention in honor of her alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“I was a sophomore in college when I knew I wanted to go into pediatrics,” Schwartz said. “A lot of children die annually from gun violence, and I feel comfortable talking (on a subject) geared toward educating my peers for gun safety.”

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Kemper Award winner Brooke Schwartz with her parents. 

She said she did not pursue pediatrics for the gun violence connection. Still, after the massacre at her high school (after she had graduated), she felt it was necessary to incorporate that part of the curriculum into medical school, hoping others would follow.

She and her boyfriend, a Miami lawyer, occasionally visit the Key Biscayne area, bringing their golden retriever, Arthur, to dog-friendly Hobie Beach. They also enjoy kayaking and watching Miami’s pro and college sports teams.

The Kemper honor is named in memory of Dr. Robert Kemper, who exemplified the highest qualities of medical professionalism until his life was cut short by cancer, and it means a lot to Schwartz.

“It’s definitely special that my faculty views me as a professional and someone they can trust,” she said. “I hope I can keep giving off that impression to my patients.”

“Match Day,” on March 15, in which graduating medical students were assigned (through certain algorithms) medical facilities for their next level of expertise, will take Olorunlogbon, 27, to Texas. His is a four-year residency in Houston, at the University of Texas-Houston, where he will focus on a joint specialty of internal medicine and pediatrics.

It’s also his first time out of Florida, he said. Well, not exactly.

Born in Ibadan, Nigeria, he and his parents immigrated to the U.S. in 2001, when he was just 4.

Oreoluwa “Ore” Olorunlogbon and mom and dad IMG_6957.jpeg

Oreoluwa “Ore” Olorunlogbon with his mom and dad.

“My mom (who worked as a health inspector and is now a nurse) won the visa lottery,” he explained, a lottery for some 25 years that has granted nearly a half-million Nigerian residents the luxury to travel the world with proper credentials.

“Our parents brought us here for a better life and a better opportunity,” Ore said. “I’d like to think they made the most of it, and so did I.”

It wasn’t easy at first. They lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Ocala, an area known for its horse farms.

“I rode one once. It was a humbling experience,” he joked.

The eldest of three siblings (sisters Anuoluwa, 20, and Ifeoluwa, 18), Ore assumed responsibility at a young age, a trait that has carried into his adult life and career goals.

Despite those challenges, he excelled in advanced programs throughout his schooling and enrolled at the University of Florida’s honors college in 2015. There, he earned his bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in Health Disparities and developed a passion for working with teenagers and young adults suffering from chronic conditions.

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Oreoluwa “Ore” Olorunlogbon with his loved ones.

“My interest lies in cancer treatments and management,” he said. “Literally, it is the hardest and most difficult chapter of a person’s life (trying to) handle the physical and emotional burden at the same time. They need someone they can trust.”

His passion for hematology, oncology, and palliative holistic medicine is just some of what he offers. He also recognizes the importance of being a source of strength, reassurance, and competency for patients.

“Ever since I was young, I was fascinated trying to help people, but I didn’t know in what capacity,” Ore said. “Until I grew older, I could show compassion and care and be there in their most challenging times. There’s none more challenging (area of the medical field) than sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis or cancer.”

He spent the summer of 2016 in a volunteer program at the University of Florida’s Shands Children’s Hospital. He spent a year in FIU’s graduate program, started medical school in 2020, and now will graduate with a doctorate in May.

Like Schwartz, it’s a little early to imagine where his career will land.

“I’m leaning toward (working in a hospital), but I do like the idea of having a small, private clinic for under-insured people,” Ore said. “It’s very important work that doesn’t get done enough.”

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Oreoluwa “Ore” Olorunlogbon with friends and family at the award event.

Ore is a “big fan” of soccer “when I get a chance to play,” he said. But he’s also an avid photographer and played the guitar for eight years at one point. He and his girlfriend, Sophia Perez, 26, who has family on Key Biscayne and is also interested in the pediatric field, enjoy going to different restaurants in Miami or cooking cultural food at home.

Beyond the Kemper award, Ore often reflects on what his parents have done for him and his sisters.

“They put food on the table,” he said, “and they taught us the importance of hard work.”


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