Dr. Anuli Mkparu ’02 came to the U.S. from Lagos, Nigeria, in 1999. In 2021, she opened her first solo practice, Sunnyvale Orthopedic & Rehabilitation, in Philadelphia. With her own practice and multiple advanced degrees under her belt, Dr. Mkparu says her journey began as a young child.
“I have wanted to be a doctor since I was three,” she said. “When I was 15, my grandmother fell and broke her wrist on her dominant side. It horribly altered the course of her life. It never occurred
to me that a simple wrist injury could derail your life. I saw this driven woman become a shadow of herself because she didn’t get the care she deserved. I wanted to care for patients like her, and that’s why I went into orthopedics.”
After graduating from TLU, the double Chemistry and Biology major attended Columbia University, where she earned a Master of Science in Human Nutrition. She went on to graduate from Duke University School of Medicine, and in 2021, received her MBA from Yale University School of Management.
Dr. Mkparu says the second part of her journey into medicine began at TLU. Aside from the one-on-one guidance from faculty and strong STEM programs, she loved the curriculum.
“I have an MBA because of my liberal arts experience,” she said. “When you’re 11 or 12 years old in Nigeria, schools have you take a test to see what you excel at. If you test well for science, you only do science, and you no longer do history or other areas. A liberal arts curriculum challenges you to not think of yourself as just one thing.”
Her experience in business school taught her how to influence and manage a team.
“I was in concierge medicine, and as physician, you’re not taught how to get people to see your vision,” she said. “Business school showed me how I could treat patients in line with my own holistic philosophy and still generate revenue. I learned how social determinants of health have more effect on health than biology, transportation, food, education, etc. I felt we weren’t practicing holistically being human-centered, and I wanted to change that.”
That inspired her to open a clinic in the Philadelphia neighborhood near where she now lives. Her proudest moments are when community members share the impact Sunnyvale has had.
“One patient told me: ‘This is a healing space. Not only am I physically better, but things have also just fallen into place.’ It was very emotional because when I was opening the clinic, I prayed it would be a beacon for people. Another patient was a pregnant survivor of domestic abuse. I helped counsel her and she had the strength to leave. She was able to leave the shelter and is now safe in her own home with her children. These moments are everything.”
Dr. Mkparu is also passionate about elevating women and people of color within STEM communities.
“In Nigeria, I wasn’t a black person,” she said. “I was just a girl and every orthopedic surgeon I grew up with looked like me. Every powerful and intelligent person looked like me. It never crossed my mind that I couldn’t do something, because they all looked like me. I tell people I’m Nigerian American and how I only noticed there was a thing called race when I moved here. Data shows that people who work and go to school in diverse environments have better output. We should encourage young women and diversity in STEM. We have made strides, but we aren’t done. We must be intentional with our kids and show them role models who look like them because it matters.”