Revamping his story
UB student aims to connect with people through medicine and music
In high school, Nnabugwu Ohia-Enyia, a Bronx native, was in the “wrong place at the wrong time.” He got into a fight and was detained for a night by the police.
In April 2010, he was on his way home when he saw his friend get into an altercation with someone. He watched from a distance and decided to intervene once a fight broke out.
Ohia-Enyia attended Saunders Trades and Technical High School. His cousin, Uwaoma Silachi, said the two were close friends in high school and only concerned about girls and music – academics weren’t a big deal to him.
The path he’s following today is much different from the one he was headed down in high school.
“I don’t want to be mediocre, so that fear motivates me,” Ohia-Enyia said.
After high school, Ohia-Enyia said people didn’t expect much from him. Once he came to UB, he wanted to surprise everyone and prove to his friends and family that he had the ability to do better.
Ohia-Enyia, a senior health and human services major, is working toward becoming a doctor, a singer/songwriter and a clothing designer. He is a member of Chi Aplha Epsilon, is completing induction requirements for Sigma Alpha Phi and expects to graduate with honors. Ohia-Enyia volunteered at DeGraff Memorial Hospital and Rockland Psychiatric Center and interns in the ER at Buffalo General Medical Center.
But Ohia-Enyia doesn’t forget about his high school fight. Although the charges were dropped, Ohia-Enyia said the situation taught him to “keep good people around … stay faithful and keep praying.”
His path to college wasn’t smooth.
Ohia-Enyia was supposed to attend St. Thomas Aquinas College for track and field, but wasn’t cleared by NCAA to receive a scholarship because he was missing one required high school course. Instead, he went to Westchester Community College and transferred to UB after a year. He wanted to run track but decided to explore other options.
He still wasn’t sure what he wanted to be.
Ohia-Enyia worked at a pharmacy when he was home in Yonkers, so he came to UB as an intended pharmacy major.
Ohia-Enyia’s rebellious teenage years led into a few years of too much freedom at UB. He said he got into “the wrong things” and received his lowest GPA during his sophomore year.
He knew he needed to turn things around.
Growing up, Ohia-Enyia’s parents stressed the “typical Nigerian story” of becoming a doctor to him, but he wasn’t sure if that was what he wanted. He turned to fashion and music as creative outlets.
But he sees a connection between his three interests. Music, fashion and medicine are all about helping others feel good about themselves.
“I do all of this for the people,” Ohia-Enyia said. “I love making people feel good about him or herself.”
Ohia-Enyia’s parents sang in the church choir, and being surrounded by gospel and the piano inspired Ohia-Enyia to follow in their footsteps.
Ohia-Enyia taught himself how to play the piano last semester. He doesn’t read music and just “plays whatever sounds right.”
He joined the church choir and joined a gospel quintet called “Blessed” with Silachi in 2009.
When the members of the quintet went off to college, Silachi and Ohia-Enyia decided to produce their own music. They formed the group NuzzCrew with friend Justin Johnson. During Ohia-Enyia’s junior year, the group came out with their first mixed tape, “Tuned Poetry.”
“When I first told people to listen, I didn’t say that it was me so that I could get an honest reaction,” he said.
The group wanted to create “neutral music that anyone could relate to.”
Ohia-Enyia blends R&B and African music with a contemporary rhythm. NuzzCrew draws inspiration from Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Kirk Franklin and Kanye West.
He released seven songs on SoundCloud six months ago that he was working on for more than a year. He plans on writing and recording more songs for a new mix tape this winter.
His creative flow also extends past the microphone and to the sewing machine.
Last winter, he wanted to create a fashion line and started working on it over the summer. So far, his line has appeared in fashion shows at Niagara University, University at Albany and Dallas, Texas.
“My style is an innovation of Nigerian-Igbo culture with an urban twist attractive to all age groups,” he said.
He takes pre-orders but said it can be difficult to fulfill the orders because making clothing is a slow process. He sews and designs all the garments himself.
Emmanuel Nortey, a senior health and human services, mental health and occupational therapy major and a close friend of Ohia-Enyia’s since freshmen year, said Ohia-Enyia’s style is “cultural and fashionable and people love it.”
Ohia-Enyia brings his love of fashion to campus and works as secretary of the Fashion Student Association. Ohia-Enyia said the club’s goal is to “show people that [fashion is] not what you wear but who are.” He wants students to embrace their individuality through fashion at UB.
Although Ohia-Enyia likes creating music and fashion, he said his true passion lies in medicine.
“I want to see him go to med school and become a doctor,” Nortey said. “He’s not even using his full potential and he’s accomplished so much.”
Ohia-Enyia hopes to be a pediatrician someday because he likes working with children, even if they’re not being totally truthful.
“A little kid came into the ER with a fever and was coughing like crazy,” he said. “When I was doing his pre-vitals he just stopped coughing and acted like he wasn’t sick anymore.”
As an intern at Buffalo General, he works in the triage unit, escorting patients to their rooms and checking their vitals.
Like music and fashion, Ohia-Enyia sees medicine as a way to connect with people.
Whether it’s being a doctor, a fashion designer or a singer, Ohia-Enyia’s interests take dedications and perseverance.
“He doesn’t stop,” Silachi said. “He continues to grind until he gets what he wants.”
Along the path to becoming a doctor, Ohia-Enyia may make some pit stops with music and fashion, but his friends and family have no doubt he will push on and rewrite the story set before him since childhood.