Chinelo Uddoh

School of Public Health Sciences course-based master's student

Balancing graduate studies, work, motherhood and more

Chinelo Uddoh

Master of Health Informatics (MHI) student Chinelo Uddoh is a part-time graduate student, a mother of two young daughters, a pharmacist and a product manager at Deloitte, who somehow still found the time to build a personal side project she calls Phai.

It’s an AI-powered set of tools designed to help pharmacists and pharmacy students, offering quick answers and insights to regulation and policy matters that guide pharmacy practice.

“My experience as a pharmacist has been a powerful eye-opener," Uddoh says. "While witnessing the transformative potential of technology was inspiring, I also encountered the very real limitations of our current health systems."

"Disjointed systems hinder information flow, making it difficult to provide holistic care when crucial details about medications, health history and other vital patient data are inaccessible.”

Recognizing these challenges and the barriers that exist to education and technology, Uddoh began her journey in the MHI program in 2020, hoping to combine her health-care experience with health technology to make a real difference in how patients and clinicians experience the Canadian health-care system.

Heading into her last semester in spring 2024, Uddoh says she plans to keep improving Phai alongside working on the impactful projects currently in progress at Deloitte.

Greatest lessons learned

As she reflects back on the last four years as a graduate student, Uddoh highlights a few of the most important lessons she will take with her post-graduation.

“Graduate school taught me to go beyond memorizing facts and really dig into the reason behind things,” she says. “Whether it's the frustrating lack of interoperability in health-care systems or the impact of technology on patient experience, relentlessly asking 'why?' leads to the kind of understanding that sparks solutions.”

Uddoh also underlines the importance of building your network, making meaningful and lasting connections with other students, faculty and alumni.

“The MHI program is filled with brilliant people,” Uddoh says. “These connections will be incredibly valuable throughout your career.”

She also emphasizes that success isn’t defined solely by having a degree or landing the job, but that success can be measured in many other ways.

“It’s the growth, the resilience and the impact you make along the way,” Uddoh says. “And hopefully, inspiring others, like my daughters, to know they can write their own definitions of success, too.” 

Resilience is a muscle 

Uddoh describes balancing work, friends, coursework and motherhood as “an adventure” and attributes her ability to keep afloat to her strong support system — her family — plus her own inner motivation to push forward, both for herself and for her children.

“Some days I questioned if I could actually juggle it all, but seeing how much I was growing – both professionally and personally – kept me going,” Uddoh says. “I want to show my daughters that even when the world throws curveballs, they can achieve anything they set their minds to."

With multiple priorities, Uddoh says it made all the difference to be realistic with herself and when setting goals.

“Set strong boundaries, plan your journey and take advantage of the resources the MHI program has to offer.”

Like many other students, Uddoh experienced periods of self-doubt, but managed to push forward. She calls this resilience a "muscle she didn't know she had," one that she was able to strengthen throughout her time at Waterloo.

"Turns out, like anything, it gets stronger with practice," she says. "And having people who believe in you makes the impossible feel possible."

To learn more about her work, check out Uddoh's YouTube channel, where she tackles various topics in health technology.