SC State University Radiochemistry Students’ Road to Success Leads to Mizzou

Friday, June 13, 2014

The road to success can be rigorous and one that requires time, dedication and the discipline needed to adhere to a daily routine.  For four consecutive years, two radiochemistry scholars, Boaz K. Bett and Nkemakonam “Nkem” Okoye, endured the challenging demands of the SC State University Honors College and have now both been offered full Ph.D. fellowships to The University of Missouri - Columbia.

Boaz K. Bett

Boaz K. Bett
The road to achieving this honor was not an easy decision for Bett, a Kenyan native. He changed his major three times before discovering that radiochemistry was his passion.


“I began as a nursing major, and then I changed to biology, then chemistry and finally radiochemistry. Throughout the process of changing my major, I discovered that I work better in a field of study that requires solving problems verses working from memory,” stated Bett.

Academic programs at SC State provide students the opportunity to conduct research, obtain internships and co-ops and attend regional and national conferences. The Honors College provides rigorous opportunities to students to help  develop them academically and challenges them for the next professional level.

Additionally, the family-oriented atmosphere at the university encourages students to participate in community service projects and inspires them to make contributions to the global community. For Bett, he desires to address public health issues in his native Africa.

“I hope to join the radiopharmaceutical and radiotracer chemistry program, where I will focus on cancer research and tropical medicine. I hope to study the characteristics of cancer, especially unique emerging cancers in Africa, in order to develop global pharmaceutical techniques of tracing, imaging, targeting, specific drug delivery and therapy. I hope to learn the economics of modern pharmaceutical research and drug development, and to use this knowledge to develop new cancer drug therapies that will be more accessible to society’s underprivileged, both in the United States and in developing nations, especially Africa where I come from,” said Bett.

Both students credit SC State professors for serving as mentors during their undergraduate tenure.

Nkemakonam 'Nkem' Okoye

Nkemakonam “Nkem” Okoye
“I attribute a portion of my success to SC State. My mentors and professors had very high expectations for me and challenged me to strive for excellence. I had the opportunity to be involved in undergraduate research projects, in which I gained a lot of experimental, analytical and data analysis skills that are not normally taught in regular classes. I also had the opportunity to present my research findings at various conferences,” said Nigerian native, Okoye. 


Like many SC State graduates, Okoye had a tough graduate school decision to make.

“I was accepted into four Ph.D. programs in chemistry and they all offered me full funding. I am so grateful for my strong support system that helped me make the decision to attend Mizzou,” said Okoye.

Okoye is still undecided about his career plans after graduating from Mizzou.

“I would love to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry and/or academia. My ultimate goal is to use the lessons that I learned at SC State to inspire youth,” said Okoye.

Bett and Okoye are ready to meet the demands of extensive graduate school course work together.

“I was overjoyed to hear the news that I had been accepted into the radiopharmacy Ph.D. program alongside my friend Nkem,” said Bett.

Okoye and Bett are recent graduates of SC State. Okoye graduated summa cum laude and Bett graduated magna cum laude. They were among over 500 SC State graduates, who earned degrees at the May 9 commencement ceremony.