February 5, 2021
At age 16, Samuel Adédèjì, his mother and brother left Nigeria to join his father in an apartment on the east side of Manhattan.
During that time, Adédèjì says, he would lean on the railing of his family’s terrace and look across First Avenue to the entrance of Bellevue Hospital. He didn’t notice the architecture and historic brick façade—he noticed the hospital staff rushing in and out.
“I told myself, I’m going to work there someday,” Adédèjì says.
Fast forward to 2010, and Adédèjì is walking across the commencement stage at the Javits Center, a graduate of Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) with an Associate of Science in Science degree.
Move ahead two more years, and he is throwing another mortarboard in the air, this time graduating from SUNY Stony Brook with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biology, a dual degree.
An internship opens doors
Working toward his degrees, Adédèjì had supported himself as many college students do, with whatever work he could find—grocery stores, a public library. Still, he accrued debt in the form of student loans, and finding a career path that could not only satisfy his ambition but pay his bills, became a priority.
Internships seemed like a good way to get his foot in the door, so Adédèjì talked to a friend who happened to work at Bellevue Hospital and came up with an idea.
“I walked in the front lobby and asked to speak with the medical director,” he says. “The front desk person sent me to an office, and the secretary gave me forms to fill out.”
What followed was an interview with the medical director.
“I said to him, ‘How can I be an asset to your hospital?’ I offered my time and my integrity. I’m a quick learner, so I told him, ‘Show me how to do it, and I’ll get it done.’”
Adédèjì soon found himself an intern with the patient safety initiative and ambulatory care clinic at Bellevue Hospital.
“It was unpaid but I got a $5 voucher each day for food, and I did that for six months,” Adédèjì says. Then, once he had some experience under his belt, he upped his game a bit.
“I walked to the business office in ambulatory care and introduced myself to the director. I told her that I love what I’m doing as an intern but the reality is, I don’t get paid and the bills are piling up. As we were talking, I learned she has a daughter who went to Stony Brook, so we had that connection. She also told me they had a temporary position working with insurance in the managed care department of the business office, so I applied and was hired.”
A promotion to surgery and sub-specialties clinics manager
In his new position, Adédèjì helped support the hospital’s efforts to ensure that every patient eligible for New York State of Health insurance plans gained that coverage.
“Once the patient was approved, we assigned a primary care physician, got them the referrals and authorizations they needed, and scheduled their procedure or visit with a specialist. I would sit down with them and make sure all that happened,” Adédèjì says.
Meeting one-on-one with more than 5,000 patients over the next few years impressed upon Adédèjì, the diversity of New York City. “I’ve seen people from Africa, South America, Europe, and whatever they’re dealing with—surgery, post-op care—it touched me to hear what they’ve gone through.”
Eventually, Adédèjì’s job was upgraded to a permanent position, and most recently, he was promoted to surgery and sub-specialties clinics manager.
“This has been a great opportunity for me because I collaborate with physician’s assistants, or PAs; doctors, nurses and staff from the finance area,” he says. “Most people in my role don’t have the finance and insurance background that I do, so that is a plus.”
Adédèjì also works closely with Bellevue’s electronic medical records (EMR) software, Epic, and once a month gives trainings on the same system to staff at Metropolitan Hospital on the upper east side.
“The sky is the starting point”
When asked about his next step, “The sky is the starting point, not the limit,” Adédèjì says. “I have experience with finance, clinics, EMR—I have an overview. A masters in hospital management is definitely in my future. I have looked at programs and it is on my bucket list. First, I want to finish paying off my student loans, and I can do that in less than five years.”
Looking back, he sees BMCC as a starting point where he found many opportunities through the Office of Student Affairs and other departments.
“I was the president of the Future Alumni club—shout out to Patricia Splendore—and a member of the Honor Society for Black Student Scholars—shout out to Professor James Blake,” Adédèjì says. “I was an African student Union Member and a 2008 Mr. and Mrs. BMCC Pageant contestant—shout out to Mr. Harry Mars and Vice President Marva Craig. I also served as Student Ambassador and a Welcome Ambassador—thanks again to VP Craig and to Ms. Iris Wangpataravanich.”
Chemistry Professor Thomas DeRosa and Organic Chemistry Professor Bramadeo Dewprashad are a couple of the faculty members who stand out for Adédèjì, among others.
“I also worked in the Career Center on the 3rd floor at 199 Chambers Street,” he says. “Thanks to Driada Rivas, Melba Olmeda-Amaro, Malkam Dior, Kimberly Chu and others for the awesome experience, plus helping me make a smooth transition to SUNY Stony Brook University.
It has been years since Adédèjì lived with his parents and brother. Married and hoping to start his own family someday, he visits his parents at the apartment on First Avenue and still enjoys going out on the terrace to enjoy the view of Bellevue Hospital, across the street.
“My journey of learning never ends,” he says. “The hospital setting is a challenge which requires you to use your brain and think outside the box every day. I reflect on the days when I looked at Bellevue and imagined my future. Now, from my office at Bellevue, I can see my parent’s terrace. Things have changed but I am still looking ahead.”
- Samuel Adédèjì (Science, ’10) was president of the Future Alumni club, a member of Honor Society for Black Student Scholars and student ambassador at BMCC
- He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biology, a dual degree, at SUNY Stony Brook
- His internship at Bellevue Hospital evolved into various positions and a promotion to surgery and sub-specialties clinics manager