Moving Forward Through Medical Devices

Photos and video by Brandon Parigo; interview by Stacy Downs; graphics by Sarah Richardson | Strategic Marketing and Communications

Engineering student found her calling at UMKC

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.



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 be part of the people who help in innovating medical solutions by manufacturing medical devices to improve the health of people.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.


From across the country and around the world, our students come together in Kansas City to study business, medicine, theatre and more than 100 other academic areas. Roos become leaders in their fields and give back to their communities.

>Meet more UMKC students

>Visit UMKC

>Explore the School of Computing and Engineering

Tags: , .
  • Recent UMKC News

    $20 Million Scholarship Article in The Kansas City Star

    KC Scholars partnership also in U.S. News and World Report … Read more

    Geosciences Professor’s Research Cited in New York Times

    Fengpeng Sun co-authored study on California wildfire seasons The 2015 … Read more

    Bloch Faculty Interviewed on NBC Nightly News

    Brent Never teaches about Kansas City’s racial dividing line Never … Read more