Dr. Bennet Omalu spoke to and encouraged many at the University of Tennessee on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Recognized for discovering Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in athletes, and featured in the film Concussion, Dr. Omalu shared his inspiring journey with a captivated audience.
Dr. Omalu expressed that although he was born into a life of strife, he discovered the power of learning and believed that knowledge enabled him to conquer anything. The road to success was not easy, and he says he often “became a victim to society.” Suffering from depression, Omalu struggled with feeling accepted and purposeful. Because Omalu’s condition was brushed off by many, he was driven to find the truth behind the psychological disorders NFL athletes suffered. He searched to find the truth and would not allow the athletes to be victimized like he was.
He identified CTE as a factor in many professional athlete deaths, but had difficulty when trying to get others to accept the diagnosis. The NFL tried to withdraw his papers, so Omalu expressed that the NFL’s arrogance and success blinded them from what was actually occurring. Omalu called this “conformational intelligence,” which he explains to be when one’s mentality is controlled by culture and expectations of society. His objectiveness in the case was what led him to pursue his findings, as he was not absorbed in the football culture.
Omalu constantly emphasized individuality and faith throughout the presentation, saying that is what motivated him through the hardest times of his life. Hearing about how Dr. Omalu overcame so many tribulations in his journey was motivating to so many who attended.
After hearing Dr. Omalu’s journey, a spectator, Matthew Gines, voiced that, “I thought it was wonderful, his faith and science are interconnected, and that inspires me.”
Another audience member, Tyler Wombles, shared his thoughts about the experience: “It was a great presentation. I really enjoyed hearing Dr. Omalu speak. He is a very intelligent man, and it was awesome to be able to see him in person.”
Edited by Katy Hill