Honors student pens fiction book highlighting career passion

Chidera Ubah smiling in front of gray screen
Honors biology and international student Chidera Ubah

A self-reflection and discovery of one's career passion has led Honors biological sciences student Chidera Ubah to publish a novel titled Chasing Passion.

According to Ubah, Chasing Passion follows the story of Adanna Ikeji, an English teacher struggling to find her passion in life. Ikeji keeps hearing that passion is supposed to lead to career, but, finding her teaching job unfulfilling, she begins searching out other avenues and endeavors to discover her calling.

Her endeavors, in turn, teach her lessons about what passion looks like in different people's lives, and she applies her newfound knowledge to her hobbies and teaching career.

Ubah didn't have to look far to find source material for her book - a self-reflection about career satisfaction and her definition of passion was all it took.

"I thought that passion was supposed to look a specific way because of the way other people have described it," she said. "When that didn't work for me, I thought I lacked passion because it didn't match the experiences everyone was having. But I realized that passion is a personal thing. It doesn't have to look the same as everybody, and you can still find fulfillment and satisfaction in your lifestyle even if it doesn't give you fame, wealth or things like that. You can like what you like and find joy in doing that."

She started questioning herself and what drove her after seeing her peers start businesses and nonprofits, and seeing all these people get famous and wealthy for being on YouTube and social media.

However, as she pointed out in her book, her passion isn't necessarily someone else's.

"If that is what you want to pursue, then of course, but don't feel like you have to in order to be happy," she said. "It's a really relevant topic for the kind of era we are living in right now, and it was something that was personally meaningful to me."

While this is her first attempt at writing a book, putting the pen to paper was easy for her because she did a lot of "mental writing" when she was younger, making up characters, worlds and scenarios, then writing the story in her head.

She thinks people enjoy the fiction genre because it allows for an escape from reality and the ability to experience another character's life while being able to tie into a relatable characater journey. "It's kind of an escape to another world or another life, but I still wanted to mix in some life lessons," she said. "So, even though you're kind of living in someone else's shoes, you can still take away and benefit from the message of the story."

Ubah began working on Chasing Passion in March after connecting with New Degree Press, a publishing company based in Washington, D.C., that uses an innovative approach to help its writers use their book to help, according to their website, "grow momentum, create engagement and drive outcomes." She connected with a network of New Degree Press editors who guided her through the manuscript writing process, beginning with the initial conception.

She is currently taking pre-orders for her book, which should be completed in the next few weeks.

Finishing her story isn't the only thing on her daily to-do list. She currently works as a cashier for Aramark, is a resident advisor, conducts neuroendocrine research at the IBio building and volunteers at the Children's Center in Detroit. She admitted her busy schedule makes it difficult to stay motivated at times, but writing is well worth the effort. "When an idea sparks and you're writing away, that is an unbeatable feeling," she said.

Ubah, an international student from Canada, said she confirmed her passions while volunteering at the Children's Center of Detroit and the Detroit Medical Center. For her, it isn't tied to a job. It's tied to character traits she values - being reliable, sympathetic and a good listener, being a good role model and a strong leader, and helping others. And it's those traits she is trying to mold into her book character. Ubah calls them "a-ha" moments - taking ordinary moments and transforming them into something meaningful for both people involved.

Ubah always knew being a physician exemplified the character traits she tries to exude on a daily basis.

She credits the Honors College for helping push her out of her comfort zone to explore the city of Detroit during her first year at Wayne State. "Honors gave me a reason to go out and get to know Detroit, and through that, I have found little gems that have bettered me personally and inspire me to do different things," she said. "I think Honors and the whole idea of how we approach the city and its dynamics, and how to approach certain problems, I think that will ultimately help me to be a better physician."

"When you are going to a job, you're not in a vacuum. There are different systems acting on each other, so there is the medical system, the health care system, or the systematic issues that might lead people to certain illnesses," she continued. "So I feel like, as a future physician, having that understanding of how a whole environment comes into play helps me to understand my patients better, understand the kind of system I'm working in. I think that will ultimately help with my future."

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