Today, she holds at least two of those titles (though some may argue all three). The Nigerian-born mom of two recently became the first Black woman and the youngest president of the San Diego County Medical Society.
Her passion for medicine is rooted in her upbringing as an immigrant and the work ethic and tenacity of her parents. Dr. Ajayi hopes to use the honor of leading the San Diego County Medical Society to highlight disparities in the health system that she and countless others have experienced.
“When I emigrated from Nigeria at the age of about 7, I went through a public health system that made me feel less than human,” she says. “It made me feel dirty and unwanted. I told my mom then that I wanted to be a doctor for children, so they always feel cared for.”
Dr. Ajayi also plans to work with various health systems to focus on physician wellness, which was impacted significantly by the pandemic.
“COVID-19 heightened the burnout that so many of our colleagues were already feeling and compounded an already significant workforce shortage,” she says. “I want to highlight how the physician experience truly goes hand-in-hand with patient wellness.”
When Dr. Ajayi is not leading the local health care industry, she is spending time with her husband, a physician with another local health care system, and her daughters, ages 4 and 15 months, and 12-year-old stepson.
She enjoys taking the kids to dance classes, swimming, tennis and their other hobbies, and in her free time, she runs and cooks. To juggle life as a busy working parent, she remembers to give herself grace.
“I know that it’s OK that I sometimes have to either prioritize work or family first — they can’t both be first all the time. This allows me to focus on one aspect and lean on my support systems for the other part. I do the best I can, and so far, it’s been working,” she says.
Dr. Ajayi hopes her presence and purpose will inspire others.
She may be the first Black woman to lead the San Diego County Medical Society, “but I opened the doors for so many more to come after me,” she says.
“I helped show how much we can truly accomplish for the betterment of others, when we work together.”