By Mary Reed
The same characteristics that earned George Ilodi the "Best Overall Classmate Award" among his peers in the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine will ensure his success as a physician: sincerity, compassion and an ability to connect with just about anyone.
This Saturday, Ilodi will graduate from the OU-COM with a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree.
"I can't think of a better word (for George) than genuine," says OU-COM classmate Amy Miyoshi. "He makes a patient feel comfortable right away."
Social rapport comes naturally for Ilodi. The son of Nigerian immigrants -- his father is a physician and his mother a nurse -- Ilodi grew up in Cleveland with his two brothers and sister -- and cousins and friends always coming and going. This might explain his talent for getting along. "Our house was always full with at least six kids."
When the family moved to the suburbs his junior year in high school, Ilodi quickly made friends, in part because his athletic talent contributed to Solon High School's first-place finish at the state high school track meet in 1999. He also qualified for state finals in wrestling.
"As an athlete, you've got the mentality that you go all the way. A warrior," he says. Ilodi's right arm has a tattoo of a tribal symbol that means warrior. On his left arm is a tattoo that reads, "I am my brother's keeper and together we shall rise."
"I'm just a competitive person," Ilodi says, explaining his warrior side, which, paradoxically, complements his compassionate side. "I'm not a cutthroat. ... If I'm going up, I reach down and help others."
True to that spirit, Ilodi took advantage of programs OU-COM offers to prepare its multicultural students for the rigors of medical school. Each time, he returned to serve as a peer mentor and tutor for students who followed.
Perhaps above all, Ilodi is an observer. Upon meeting a patient, he works hard to gauge how best to approach them. "I watch how they interact with the nurses, and I come in and talk to them, and I know from then on if I can joke with them or be serious."
Although Ilodi would rather observe others than talk about himself, he is aware of his talent for bedside manner. "My patients, they love me," he says. "The ones who aren't bashful will say, 'I want you to be my doctor.' I say, I won't be a doctor for another few months."
As of Saturday, his patients can call him Dr. George Ilodi.