Nneka Madu was born in Okigwe, Nigeria, the daughter of Florence and Ralph Madu. The family immigrated to the United States, and Nneka grew up in Pullman, Washington. When she was seven years old, her family moved to Parkersburg, West Virginia where they spent the next nine years.
In West Virginia, Nneka became involved in basketball and track. She wrote on her school paper and worked as a candy striper in the local hospital. In tenth grade, she moved to Dumfries, Virginia and attended Gar-Field High School where she continued her participation in track and field and became vice-president of the school’s Leo Club and Key Club, two service organizations. Nneka ranked in the top 1% of Gar-Field’s graduating class of over 600 students, and compiled a distinguished academic record. She is a National Merit Commended Scholar, National Achievement Semi-Finalist, and Ventures Scholar. During the summer after her junior year, Nneka attended the Virginia Governor’s School as an intern in the Medical Mentor Program.
Nneka attended Yale University where she was a peer counselor, a Volunteer at Yale New Haven Hospital, a STARS General Chemistry Facilitator, a T.I.E.S tutor, and a member of Danceworks. She received a B.A. in History of Science, History of Medicine in 2005 and spent the subsequent year volunteering at the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation in Ireland.
Nneka is planning a career in medicine and hopes one day to return to Nigeria as a doctor, providing urgently needed medical services to remote villages.