By Ebimo Amungo
Dr. Joyce Tolofari can pass for an a-listed actress in Hollywood or even Nollywood, but she is not an actress, even though she trained to be one. Rather, she is a professor of nursing at the Austin Community College and an adjunct professor of nursing at the University of Texas in Arlington, Texas.
But despite these lofty achievements as a nurse and professor in America, Dr. Tolofari has fond memories of her time as a performer in Nigeria where she studied theater arts under the famed dramatist and academician, Ola Rotimi.
“I studied theater arts and took part in several dance dramas and plays at The Crab in University of Port Harcourt” she said laughing loudly. “Ola Rotimi was an exacting and demanding tutor and I learnt a lot from him.”
But today, Dr. Tolofari has a new career as a trainer and educator of nurses in Texas. She is a respected member of the academic community in the two universities she is affiliated with.
Dr. Tolofari came to America in 1996 on a fiancés visa.
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“I came America 26 years ago to get married” she said smiling ruefully “Unfortunately that marriage did not last too long”. Dr. Tolofari started her career in nursing not long after.
Dr. Tolofari graduated with a nursing degree from the Austin Community College in 2006. She went further to obtain a Master’s degree in 2014 and a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020.
Dr. Tolofari attributes her achievements in America to her relationship with God.
“My experience in America was very difficult at the beginning. I did not have family support but my strong relationship with God gave me an anchor”
“Even in my darkest moments I didn’t get anxious, I did not get depressed, I trusted God.” She said.
Dr. Tolofari said her relationship with God started as a child in Nigeria.
“I am so grateful for my upbringing in Nigeria. My parents brought me up in the congregation of the Anglican Church in Port Harcourt and that helped to strengthen my moral fiber and set me up for a lifelong relationship with God”
Dr. Tolofari has stayed in touch with her Nigerian roots and is a member of the Nigerian community in Austin. She is also an active member of the Ijaw community in the city.