FRIENDS AND FAMILY mourn the sudden loss of Nkechi “NK” Mbaebie, a 2015 graduate with an MPH in Epidemiology, who passed away on April 3, 2019, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Nkechi was a native of Nigeria, where she earned a medical degree from Enugu State University before coming to the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She distinguished herself on campus almost immediately, joining the International Student Advisory Board in January 2014 and continuing on that board through to her graduation. She is the longest-serving member to that board. She also served as the international chair to the SPHTM Student Government Association.
Among her many accomplishments, she created a special session within university services to help new students better access campus services and created a guide to help new students get a job on campus.
“NK was a natural leader among her fellow international students, who often turned to her for guidance and support,” said Kristy Magner, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars. “She went out of her way to help international students in her classes and in her residence hall feel welcomed and supported. In her role on the advisory board, she was a strong advocate on behalf of her fellow international students. We will miss her dearly and think of her often as an example of serving your own community.”
A resident of Deming Pavilion, she became an unofficial leader in graduate housing, offering guidance and support to help students and connect them with the appropriate resources. Katina Walker, housing director for Deming, remembered her fondly. “I am still in shock after hearing this sad and devastating news. My sadness runs very deep. I could always count on NK day or night.” Walker described how Nkechi even took students in her own apartment and to live with her until rooms were available. “I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to not just know her as a Tulane student, but as a caring and loving person I considered a true friend.”
Nkechi served as SPHTM’s graduation speaker in 2015, the first international student to do so. President Mike Fitts supported her applications for medical school residency by personally writing her a letter of reference.
At the time of her passing, she was working at Life Line Medical Center and was a resident at the Berkshire Medical Center.
Nkechi Mbaebie is survived by her husband Johnmary Nwofe, as well as five sisters and a brother.