Oye Owolewa needs more hours in a day. As if the licensed pharmacist and Bouve College of Health Sciences graduate weren’t busy enough administering the COVID-19 vaccine to the mostly Black residents in his District of Columbia neighborhood, he’s using a political perch as an elected representative of D.C.’s voters to turn the nation’s capital into the 51st state.
Vaccines? Politics? Where does he find the time to do it all? “I rely on my team,” Owolewa laughs. “They keep me grounded. They make sure I am able to manage everything.”
Owolewa is used to being pulled in different directions. His parents left Nigeria for a shot at a better life in Boston. He and his four siblings grew up in a home where a good education was paramount. His mom and dad set the example. Both would go on to become Husky graduates—his mother earned a degree in civil engineering, his father a degree in medical technology.
Owolewa caught the engineering bug in a big way, creating a high school chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers before eventually realizing he didn’t have engineering in him. But what he did have in abundance was an interest in engaging with the public and in medicine, driven by watching family members, including a grandmother with diabetes, take medications. Owolewa pursued a calling as a pharmacist. By his fourth year in Bouve, he was the only Black male in a class of 150.
Citing the “power of representation,” he started a peer mentorship program in his sixth year. He didn’t want his brother, an incoming first-year and aspiring pharmacist, to drop out as some other Black students did.