Imo Aisiku ’92 told Worcester State University candidates for graduation Saturday that he learned a valuable lesson at Worcester State that has guided him: “If you ask for it and work hard at it, you can achieve anything.” The WSU 136th Commencement was held at the DCU Center in Worcester.
Aisiku serves as director of neurocritical care at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and associate professor and vice chairman of critical care for the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, Texas. He is part of the team that provided care for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
He said that while he found his new notoriety caring for Rep. Giffords less than comfortable and often stressful, it was also “amazingly rewarding.” Aisiku said that the hard work and determination he relied on while providing her care were traits he developed at Worcester State.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from WSU, he earned a medical degree from the UMass School of Medicine, a master’s degree in clinical research from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and an MBA from Emory’s Goizueta School of Business. He completed his residency in emergency medicine and completed fellowships in citical care and neurocritical care and was recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a sickle cell research scholar in 2008.
“While the campus has changed much since I was here—always for the better—WSU remains that place where men and women of all ages, from all backgrounds, can come to start over, or to make themselves better. This university nurtures and molds you, and it prepares you not only to take your place in the world, but to lead it,” he said.
Last week prior to commencement, Aisiku met with students in their labs to discuss their research and his work at University of Texas Medical School. He also visited the WSU campus for the lecture “Developments in Medicine and Neuroscience: A Physician’s Perspective” last April. He has established an undergraduate summer research program and undergraduate research awards fund for Worcester State biology majors.
Aisiku challenged the graduates to “keep the daringly radical but unfailingly simple notion alive, that no matter where you were born, or how much your parents have; no matter what you look like or what you believe in, you can still rise to become whatever you want; still go on to achieve great things; still pursue whatever you hope for.”
Aisiku, whose father is a professor emeritus in WSU’s Education Department and whose mother was a special education teacher at Burncoat Middle School, moved with his family to Auburn, Massachusetts from Brooklyn, New York when he was in high school. Aisiku’s wife, Meroia, parents, and siblings also attended the WSU commencement exercises.
President Barry M. Maloney, who was presiding over his first commencement since he began serving as the university’s 11th president last July, told the graduates and faculty that he was impressed with their contributions and achievements. “I have been fortunate to witness the work you are doing, not only in our classrooms, but in our neighborhoods, in our labs, in our communities and across the globe.”
Aisiku was awarded an honorary doctoral degree as part of the commencement ceremony. The University also presented Urban Studies Professor Steven H. Corey, Ph.D., and Chair of the Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing Stephanie Chalupka, Ed.D., each with the 2012 George I. Alden Excellence in Teaching Award. Trustees Recognition Awards were presented to WSU Trustees George Tetler III and Abigail Chmielecki ’12. Erin Michelle Borglund received the Ella M. Whitney Award, named for a 1891 graduate. Dr. Laurie A. Dahlin and Dr. Stephen Morreale served as Class of 2012 Advisors. Veronica L. Adams and Ian E. Fields served as Senior Class Marshals.
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