HER: Student Sandra Okeke Bates

Health Equity Reimagined

Student Engagement

Helping Seniors in Nigeria Ignited Student’s Desire to Pursue Nursing

Sandra Okeke Bates

Before coming to the U.S. and enrolling at the Duke University School of Nursing, Sandra Okeke Bates got her start in healthcare in her community in Nigeria. There, she participated in a community project aimed at raising disease awareness among seniors. She distributed pamphlets on problems that were prevalent in her community, such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted infections.

“By sharing my knowledge about how to prevent many of these diseases at markets and churches, I was able to witness the impact of health literacy on health decisions,” she said. “This experience ignited my desire to pursue a career in nursing.”

After moving to the U.S., Bates knew she wanted to study nursing but wasn’t sure how to make the transition from having a business degree and career in the banking industry. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, she knew it was time to step out from the sidelines and do something that she has always wanted to do.

Bates began working as a medical assistant while completing her nursing prerequisites in order to apply to nursing school. She chose DUSON due to its commitment to health equity, social justice, diversity and inclusion.

"Knowing that DUSON is committed not only to train registered nurses that are practice ready, but also to cultivate nurse leaders who are dedicated to advancing healthcare across various domains was very pivotal in my decision to go to Duke. Going to DUSON turned out to be all that I imagined and much more.”

Sandra Okeke Bates

ABSN Student

After graduating with her Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bates plans to work in an acute care setting. She hopes to support and pioneer community health initiatives geared towards addressing social determinants of health and increasing accessibility of care to underserved and underrepresented communities.

She ultimately plans to get a Doctorate in Nursing Practice, which will allow her to provide an advanced level of care to every patient she cares for.

“I have always aspired to make a significant impact by becoming a nurse leader who can drive positive change in various healthcare settings, including community health initiatives, hospitals, and on a global scale."


Sandra Okeke Bates, an ABSN student at the Duke University School of Nursing, got her start in healthcare in her hometown in Nigeria.

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