Silver Circles: Funmi Apantaku-Onayemi

Funlayo Apantaku-Onayemi; Silver Circle Award Winner

Funlayo Apantaku-Onayemi, visiting clinical instructor, community health sciences. Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

Silver Circles: 1
Years at UIC: 30

What does it mean to win this award from the graduating seniors?

It is indescribable. Of all the awards I have received within the span of my career, the Silver Circle Teaching Excellence Award ranks as the purest of awards. To learn that I have positively contributed to their educational journey is a highlight that I will forever cherish.

What do you teach?

I teach health literacy.

How do you engage students in your courses?

I engage each student in an independent study of their choice within the body of health literacy coursework. I get to know their strengths, passion, style of inquiry and dedication to that quest. It is always an eye-opener to see the extent of their queries, the wealth of their public health curiosity, their keen interest in global health matters, and the scope of their search. For many of them, these topics are personal.  They stay engaged because they own their queries and outcomes.

What are your research interests?

My life’s work has been in cancer community engagement, participatory and populations’ research primarily in the African American community.

What is your advice to graduating students?

Give this work your passion. Be insistent on societal well-being. I know you will be outstanding public health ambassadors — you will save lives; you will protect our environment; you will educate and advocate for those who cannot protect themselves. Because you have been here and you are prepared to serve, our public will be better for it.

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