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| Nov 4, 2022 | First-year medical student Andrew Igbokidi is on the way to a promising career. But whether that career will be medicine or music – or perhaps a combination of both – has yet to be decided.
In early August, while the 22-year-old from Hot Springs was preparing for his medical degree at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), he was also in Los Angeles to audition for “The Voice,” the popular NBC television singing competition now in his 22ndnd Season.
He ended up making it on “The Voice” — with no fewer than four chairs — and eventually making it into class, which started August 8.
A four-chair round is when all four coaches hear auditions where they can only hear the candidate’s signal but cannot see that they want the singer on their team. It’s the best result a candidate could ask for in their first blind auditions.
Now Igbokidi is pursuing both endeavors. On the show, which aired Oct. 18, he won his first singing battle with another contestant to stay in the running for $100,000 and a record deal. He has chronicled his participation in the next competition known as Three-Way Knockouts, the results of which are expected to be televised in the second week of November. Live competitions to follow.
In the meantime, Igbokidi is focusing on his freshman year of medical school, encouraged by a previous job as a certified nursing assistant at a hospital, the “very close loss” of a loved one to COVID-19 at a Nigerian health facility, and a scholarship to UAMS. He was one of five recipients of a first Dean’s Scholarship — a four-year, full-tuition scholarship awarded to students who have demonstrated academic merit and met other criteria.
He said the grievous loss “made me realize that more people who care not only about the physical well-being of those in need, but also about the spiritual well-being, need to be on the front lines of the healthcare system.”
He said it caused him to reevaluate his concerns about entering a profession that too often took his mother, a Hot Springs cardiologist, away from family growing up.
“I’ve noticed her absence in certain parts of my life,” Igbokidi said, for example when she was on call and missed his basketball games. Though the idea of missing out on family events initially put him off a medical career, he said, “I soon realized that if my mother missed some important moments in our lives, it must have been for something she did.” was very passionate and that she loved. And I somehow found this passion individually.”
“A big hope and dream of mine as a potential doctor would be to open a few clinics in rural and underserved areas,” Igbokidi said. “The goal would be to help complete and develop the healthcare system in these regions because so many people are not getting the care they deserve and need.”
When asked how he’s juggling medical school with regular flights to Los Angeles, he said the producers of The Voice have been “very accommodating. They are extremely nice and flexible and we worked out a schedule.”
He said he can also attend many of his classes virtually.
Igbokidi graduated from the University of Central Arkansas-Conway in 2021 with a degree in biology after attending Hot Springs Lakeside High School, where he also excelled in basketball.
He is the son of Hot Springs residents Oyidie Igbokidi, MD and Gregory Igbokidi, who owns the Belle of Hot Springs riverboat, which offers dinner and sightseeing cruises. The Nigerian immigrants met in the United States and were living in Chicago when Andrew, their third child, was born. At that time, his mother was completing her residency training. A younger sister followed.
Igbokidi said that while his mother’s profession played a role in his desire to attend medicine, his interest in music definitely could not be traced back to his parents.
“There’s no musical bone in my parents’ bodies,” he said, shrugging when asked how he and his older siblings developed a love and talent for singing. His siblings, meanwhile, are also pursuing medical careers. His brother has a master’s degree in hospital administration, his older sister is studying nursing and his younger sister is attending nursing school.
He said he tried it for “The Voice” as “some random thing” after previously appearing on his father’s cruise ship a few months.
“I’ve always loved music and performing, so I just wanted to try something, and then it just went on and on,” he said.
When asked what he would do if he won The Voice, Igbokidi said, “I don’t know because it’s just so much, you know. One of my storylines is music versus medicine. I really do not know it. I know I don’t want to give up my education or the work I did to get into medical school, and I don’t want to give up music, so maybe I can find a way to do both. ”