Nigerian-born Stella Eke-Okoro Reaps Fruits of Righteousness through HFU School of Nursing

Stella Eke-Okoro was destined to become a nurse. 

Maybe it is because her very name, “Stella,” is associated with the guiding light that leads individuals toward their true path and purpose in life.  Maybe it is because since her childhood, with four siblings in Nigeria, to her arrival in America via a Visa lottery in 1996, a part of her always knew that the passion for the profession that she had in her soul would someday come to fruition.


That day was July 1, 2024, when on the Northeast Philadelphia campus of Holy Family University, Stella Eke-Okoro, mother of five and grandmother of 11, received her nursing pin from her son, Odinakachi BSN ’22, himself a nursing graduate who is married to a nurse and now works on a med-surg floor at a hospital in Georgia. 

Even after obtaining a degree in Criminal Justice at Rutgers-Camden and working for 20 years as a Corrections Officer at the Camden County Youth Detention Center, Eke-Okoro saw retirement as an opportunity to now set her sights on what she believes she was born to do.  She enrolled in the LPN program at Burlington County Institute of Technology and once complete, sought out Holy Family’s evening and weekend BSN program. 

“Even though it was challenging, and it was challenging, and I was coming from arts to science, I really enjoyed my courses,” Eke-Okoro said.  “I don’t ever want to stop learning, and nursing has always been my passion.  When I learn, I show my children and grandchildren that they can follow in my footsteps. I tell my kids if I am doing this at this age, nobody has any excuse not to do it.  I have faith in God, and in the people around me, including my husband (who is a minister), who are encouraging me, praying for me, supporting me.  It has been amazing. I have learned that if you can dream it, you can become it.”

Eke-Okoro also credits the Almighty with keeping her going.  She has so much faith, in fact, that she put mention of God in all of her children’s names. Translated from her native Igbo language, her children -oldest son Chukwuemeka (“God has done good things”), Odinakachi (“In God’s hands”), daughters Onyekachi (“Nobody is greater than God”), Chizorom (“God delivered me.”) Ezichi (“Good God”) are testament to the faith that has sustained her on her incredible life journey.

“Getting to this day was rough,” she admitted, “but I am telling you, I had wonderful professors at Holy Family (including Drs. Pulley, Hall,  McFadden, Professor Arun and Ms. Kathleen Martz) who believed in me and told me to just keep going. They were always so encouraging, telling me ‘You can do it.’ At Holy Family, it is not just getting you to pass the class and go away. Their goal is not just to teach you, but to prepare you for the NCLEX exam and the career that is to come.”

The career for Eke-Okoro, who loves kids and received gratification in watching troubled youth turn their lives around, may be in maternity, where she had her best clinical experience. It also may possibly be in forensic nursing which would marry her criminal justice background with her nursing expertise to minister to victims of crime. 



“I want to be a nurse who is very compassionate,” she said.  “I want to give someone the kind of care that I would want someone to give me. I want to care for people when they are in their most vulnerable state, and I want to be that person who can be there for them.  I learned as an LPN that nursing is something you do from your heart, and that desire to help people is a desire that lasts a lifetime. I know I will cry that day when my son presents me with my nursing pin. It was a long journey, and it is a dream come true. And even though we complain that it was challenging, it is the end result that counts.  Just like it says in the Bible (Hebrews 12:11), ‘For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it’.”

Stella Eke-Okoro revels in reaping that fruit and give thanks for the long-desired, life-saving work that lies ahead.


Jan Giel