Wright State Boonshoft School of Medicine graduate embraces role of trailblazer

Olatunde Bashorun, a 2024 graduate of Wright State’s Boonshoft School of Medicine, matched into the plastic and reconstructive surgery residency program at the University of California San Diego. (Photo by Erin Pence)

It would be an understatement to say that Olatunde Bashorun, M.D., encountered adversity during his journey to medical school.

Bashorun, a 2024 graduate of Wright State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine, developed a keen appreciation for health care while competing as a high school and college athlete.

However, his home life became unsettled when his parents divorced. The Staten Island native faced great adversity with personal and financial stressors, even enduring periods of homelessness before enrolling at Wright State.

“I transferred from St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn to State University of New York in Plattsburgh in upstate New York for better stability,” he said. “Upon arriving on campus and getting situated in the dormitories, I was able to focus on my career commitment to becoming a medical doctor. I became enamored with the idea of being a surgeon and helping people.”

While thriving academically at Plattsburgh, Bashorun was not successful on his first attempt to apply to medical school. He refers to this hurdle as a pivotal period in his journey.

“It forced me to take a step back and reevaluate my portfolio,” he said. “While I was away from school, I was able to devote more time to studying to improve my MCAT score and connect with New York City’s medical community through community advocacy and outreach while tutoring the next generation of health professionals. In contributing to promoting medical knowledge and healthier lifestyles, it put my future into full context and why I was sure that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine.”

Bashorun reapplied and was accepted into Wright State’s Boonshoft School of Medicine.

“Wright State University was the first school that reached out and got back to me. They accepted me thankfully and provided the path I was destined for in life,” he said.

His perseverance paid off when he became the first African American male student from the Boonshoft School of Medicine to match into a competitive integrated plastic and reconstructive surgery residency program.

He begins the six-year program on July 1 at the University of California San Diego, where he will work closely with nationally and internationally renowned surgeons within its Division of Plastic Surgery.

“It is really an honor to accomplish and possess this feat as a graduate of Wright State University,” Bashorun said. “It is a responsibility I accept on behalf of Wright State and something that will be forever near and dear to me. I look forward to furthering my development as a future leader within this specialty and paying it forward to the next generation of medical students who aspire to pursue a career in plastic and reconstructive surgery.”

Mel Brown, program manager in the Diversity Recruiting and Admission Office in the Boonshoft School of Medicine, lauds Bashorun for his optimism, enthusiasm and humility in pursuit of his goal.

“The relevance of Olatunde’s achievement is huge for us,” Brown said. “The fact that in over 50 years that he stands as the first and only African American man to match in plastic surgery stands as a sizeable feather in our proverbial institutional hats. It should speak to the effort and ability of the Boonshoft School of Medicine to actualize the goals set forth in the mission throughout the years.”

Bashorun said he is grateful for the mentorship and support he received from Brown and others while at Wright State, especially Ron Michael Johnson, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopedic and Plastic Surgery and director of the Plastic Surgery Residency Program.

“I would not be here without his guidance, warmth and encouragement,” Bashorun said. “He took me under his wing from the beginning of my journey here, being extremely welcoming. He allowed me plenty of opportunities to grow and learn as a future plastic and reconstructive surgeon.”

Brown credits Bashorun for a strong work ethic throughout medical school.

“Olatunde is deserving of all the admiration, adulation, and adoration he has received. He has worked extremely hard and should always be recognized and respected as not only one of our best students but also as one of the best students any institution could offer,” Brown said. “He has been a terrific student but is an even better human being if you can imagine that.”

Bashorun admits it was an adjustment to move from New York to Dayton. In addition, he started medical school during the COVID-19 pandemic, which provided additional challenges.

But he never regretted the decision.

“It was unchartered territory, and I didn’t know what to expect in medical school. But I drew on my resilience, adjusted and rolled with the punches,” Bashorun said. “I just worked hard and was determined. In the process, I grew to appreciate Dayton and everything it had to offer. I am certainly thankful for mentors at Wright State who opened doors for me and will forever hold a special place in my heart for the city and people of Dayton that made me a medical doctor.”

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