Moving Forward Through Medical Devices

Engineering student found her calling at UMKC
UMKC student Mary Okafor stands in motion lab

Mary Okafor left Nigeria, where she’d lived her entire life, in 2014 for her college education. Her first experience with America was Kansas City, where her older brother lived at the time. She wants to design medical devices, and spends a lot of time in the engineering school’s motion lab measuring and analyzing crucial data. Watch a video and read a Q & A to learn more.

Mary Okafor, ‘19
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, minors in Chemistry and Mathematics
School: School of Computing and Engineering
Organizations: President of  National Society of Black Engineers; African Students’ Association
Hometown: Abiriba, Abia State, Nigeria


Why did you choose UMKC?

As an international student, I did not have the opportunity to visit UMKC and get a tour around the school. But my brother lived in Kansas City for a while. He had a friend who graduated from UMKC who made him understand that UMKC was a good school with good programs and professors. It has a good learning environment and is filled with diverse students. This is why I chose UMKC.

UMKC engineering student Mary Okafor

Why did you choose engineering?

I have always been fascinated by the way things were being built and how these innovations are used to make the world a better place. I chose to study mechanical engineering because I want to help innovate medical solutions by manufacturing medical devices to improve the health of people.


UMKC engineering student Mary Okafor loves research opportunities.

What are the challenges and benefits of the program?

To succeed in my program, you have to be positively driven and have a goal in life to withstand and pass through the amount of hard work required from you. It is easy to lose focus, but if you know what you want in life, that helps to keep you in check.

The different experiences we get help in shaping students to become better engineers. Being an undergraduate researcher has helped me in knowing how I can help people. Also, you get to connect with people by getting involved in organizations. I joined the National Society of Black Engineers in my freshman year and this also contributed in me staying focused by working with students who have the same mindset as me to be a successful engineer.

UMKC engineering student Mary Okafor in the motion lab.

How has your college program inspired you?

The thought of how I can use what I have learned in my program and the experience to save lives of people in the future through innovation of medical devices always inspires me to learn more and strive to do better to be the best mechanical engineer I can be.

A motto UMKC engineering student goes by: "Always be open to new ideas."

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I have learned that stepping out of my comfort zone was really important because it made me become a better version of myself. I became more confident and always open to new try new things that would benefit me in life.

UMKC engineering student Mary Okafor works at a computer in the motions lab.

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is not being successful in life. By not being successful, I mean not being able to use my knowledge to give back to the community to make the world a better place.

UMKC engineering student uses the word "positive" to describe herself.

What motto do you live by?

“If others can do it, then I can.” That motivates me to always stay positive and be open to learn.