A career change is no easy feat, but this alumnus believes determination makes all the difference.
doctoral program — more specifically, WilmU’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. His dream of rising in the health care field came after years of financial setbacks, nine college experiences and an alternative business career. But on this day, he walked the Chase Center at the Riverfront stage for winter commencement, sharing the moment with several VIP audience members: his wife, two children, three siblings, and most poignant, his parents, who had traveled from Nigeria to celebrate.
Dr. Nwaneri’s story began in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, some 5,610 miles away from Wilmington’s Chase Center stage in Wilmington, where his parents instilled in him the importance of education.
“They gave my siblings and I daily reminders about how we were to study hard to become professional,” says Dr. Nwaneri, adding that they insisted their children become engineers or doctors.
He researched medical schools in Nigeria, but money was tight. The cost of local medical schools exceeded the cost of other degrees, so Dr. Nwaneri chose to study business over medicine.
He was determined to be the best at it and went on to earn a bachelor’s in Accounting from the University of Uyo, a master’s in Economics from the University of Lagos, and an MBA from Ekiti State University.
Dr. Nwaneri began a promising banking career in Nigeria’s capital city of Lagos, a global financial center and one of the fastest growing cities in the world. There Dr. Nwaneri excelled, becoming the bank’s youngest branch manager at 28. The average age for the position was 35. Despite his successes, he still wanted to work in health care.
“I’ve always wanted to add value to the lives of others,” says Dr. Nwaneri. “When I was in banking, I added monetary value by managing portfolios and helping others make money. But I wanted to give value in a more personal way that touched lives forever.”
He moved to the United States to begin a career in health care, which he admits was challenging, especially when one is so successful already. “I had to start over completely,” he says.
He earned an associate degree in Science from Camden County College and a diploma in nursing from Our lady of Lourdes School of Nursing. He then attended the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for his MSN before completing his degree at Rutgers University. He also earned a post-graduate Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certificate at Wilkes University, then passed two Nurse Practitioner board exams that focused on psychiatric mental health and adult gerontology primary care.
As if that weren’t enough, Dr. Nwaneri landed at Wilmington University in 2014 to enroll in its DNP program. “I attended an open house and was so impressed by how the faculty described the program,” he says. “Their knowledge and care was evident. I knew I could attend WilmU and get the quality education I needed to move to the next level in my career.”
He wanted to combine his business background with his newly acquired education in direct care, and to position himself for a career in health care leadership. The DNP program fit the bill.
“The program is focused on integrating skills our practitioners can apply immediately in the changing world of health care,” says Dr. Aaron Sebach, chair of WilmU’s DNP, which offers an innovative curriculum emphasizing health care engineering and interdisciplinary collaboration among expert clinicians, health care leaders and policy makers.
“I would say that the thing that stood out the most was Raymond’s determination to complete the program despite all of the challenges he had to face managing family, work and school,” says Dr. Graves. “There was a point in the process when he had to change both the focus and the site of his project, at which time I suggested he take an extension, but he was determined to push through and finish with his cohort.”
That determination energized Dr. Nwaneri, through all the naps in the library, car and anywhere else he could fit in a quick snooze between work and class.
“I had to completely step away from life at some points,” he says.
Dr. Nwaneri is grateful to the WilmU staff for helping make his transition into health care administration a fruitful one. He currently works at five Philadelphia-area nursing homes through Med Options, an assisted-living facility behavioral services provider, as well as a contractor for Haven Behavioral Hospital of Philadelphia. He plans to work his way up the ladder.
He has also returned to the classroom — as an instructor. “I want to be able to give back like the faculty members at WilmU gave back to me,” he says. “I want to help the next generation of practitioners prepare for the health care field of the future.” WU