Judy Oranika combined her love for children and biology to pursue her position as a pediatrician.
Judy’s interest in the medical field was piqued at a young age as she attended community health fairs in the Nigerian-American community where she was raised in Montgomery, Alabama.
“I really admired the role that the physicians played being involved in their community and I loved seeing people come out to these health fairs and be able to get information, get screenings and really be able to have more one-on-one time with the doctors,” Judy says. “I really admired the community service aspect, but also the relationship I saw that the doctors had with members of the community.”
Once she reached college to earn her degree, she decided to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C., to participate in their six-year medical program and to experience the environment of a historically Black university. After graduating from medical school, Judy moved to LA in 2019 for her pediatric residency, which she finished in July of this year.
During residency, Judy had already experienced inspirational, rewarding moments in her field. For example, she recalls one patient who had birth defects that required the patient to undergo multiple surgeries and hospital stays prior to turning 2. Judy cared for this patient several times and became acquainted with the mother and the patient.
“Just being able to see the mom and the patient in their most vulnerable moments but pushing through with resiliency to come out on the other side — that was super inspiring to me,” Judy says. “That’s why I picked pediatrics, because children are generally pretty resilient and it reaffirms that value of mine to always make sure I take that extra time with patients because it really makes a difference, especially for those who unfortunately are in the hospital more than another kid might be.”
Years later, Judy encountered the patient again and was able to see how much progress was made through the hard work and collaboration of a medical team.
“That was really inspirational,” Judy says. “It wasn’t something I was expecting to be touched so much by, but it was phenomenal to see.”
Although Judy has dedicated much of her time to pursuing pediatrics, she has not ignored another large aspect of her identity: fashion.
Fashion was a creative outlet of Judy’s growing up, and much of her initial inspiration came from her mother, who she considered a “fashion icon.”
“Getting dressed was something that always felt fun to me, and seeing my mom use fashion to dictate how she wanted to show up in the world was really fun to see,” Judy says.
As she moved onto college, Judy began to take her style more seriously, taking into account what her clothing communicated about her and who she wanted to be. She jokes that, at Howard University, she had to step up her fashion because “people get dressed and go to class like it’s a fashion show.”
During the pandemic, Judy began to work on her debut fashion line, and she officially launched the five-piece line, Kene, on July 21. She describes it as “a line of staples with character.”
“The line has staples in it that you can wear by themselves because they have enough character, whether it’s the color, the asymmetry or the design, or they can be paired with sneakers, heels [or] outerwear to either dress it up or dress it down,” Judy says. “So I wanted to create something that was versatile but still fun and had enough character to stand alone on its own.”
However, Judy has struggled with imposter syndrome in both her medical and fashion roles.
“I had to get out of that perfectionist mindset and recognize everything — even the things we feel are gifts and callings — there’s always a lesson to be learned and that lesson should be learned with openness and not with shame,” Judy says.
Judy encourages other women to avoid comparing themselves to other people’s paths and to focus on their own, facing each challenge one by one.
“When you think of all of the things that you have to do and haven’t accomplished yet, it can be really daunting,” Judy says. “People are always going to have feedback that they want to give and things that they want to say, but you have to take everything one by one and with a grain of salt sometimes, and really sit down and be focused. Recognize that it is a gradual process.”
Now that she has finished residency, Judy started a new full-time position as a pediatrician in August. She also hopes to expand her clothing line in the future, but other than that, Judy is open to see where life takes her.
“I just want to be in a space where I’m always creating, I’m always evolving and also in a place where I feel that I’m in alignment with my purpose,” Judy says. “I want to always have some sort of creative outlet, but I also want to have a meaningful impact on my patients and be a community advocate. So whatever draws me toward those goals, that’s what I will be doing.”
To Judy, “she can be both” means that women do not have to place regulations on themselves.
“I want to inspire women to embrace the journey of living and growing and evolving and recognize that if we are not where we expect to be, it’s because that’s not where we’re supposed to be at that moment,” Judy says.