You What?

Alexander O. Ondari, MD, Family Medicine Physician, Parkview Physicians Group
May 8, 2023
Tim Brumbeloe
You What?

Do you have a nickname? World traveler. I have visited 41 countries in my 41 years.

In what city did you grow up? I grew up in Webuye, Kenya. In 2002, I came to the United States to attend Texas Southern University, a historically black university in Houston, Texas. I consider Houston my first American home. I received my medical degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine. Years later, one of my med school classmates suggested I come to Fort Wayne and I’ve been here for two years now.

What is your favorite part of your job? Seeing the progress in my patients’ health, and their gratitude.

Who is your hero? My father. 

What famous person would you most like to meet? President Barack Obama.

What was your first job? I was a pharmacy technician at Naitiri Pharmacy in Webuye, Kenya.

What is your greatest accomplishment? Becoming a physician and U.S. citizen. Both were long, arduous journeys, to say the least. There’s a hidden cost we pay as immigrants for the American Dream. I wouldn’t have succeeded without my family and friends’ support.

What is your dream job? United Nations Public Health Director.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party (living, dead, famous, real or fictional)? My mother, siblings, President Nelson Mandela, Prof. Wangari Maathai, Prof. Cornell West, Author Chimamanda Adichie, Drs. Steve Smith, Rod Bucher, Kent Erb, John Andrew Isch Jr./Sr., and Barbara Thompson.  

What moment in your life would you most like to go back and relive? My 40th birthday in Kenya. We went on a safari where we saw the most amazing animals and met some amazing people as well.

What would you choose as your last meal? Chapati and chicken stew.  

What’s one thing you can’t live without? My passport. Despite all the hoops I’ve had to jump through just to get my passport, and the challenges I still face every time I leave the country, traveling brings me joy. I’ve made so many friendships in the medical field and traveling is how we stay connected.   

What’s your biggest fear? Being profiled in any way.

What is the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten? Chiswa —a traditional western Kenya termite delicacy.

What is the best gift you have ever been given? The opportunity to be a physician.

What age do you wish you could permanently be and why? 40 — I feel it’s when you’ve hit the proverbial “half time” in life. Mature, accomplished and ready to work more on significance than success.

What is something that never fails to make you laugh? My paternal grandma telling stories of her younger days.

Who would you like to see perform in concert? Beyoncé.

Who was your first celebrity crush? Lupita Nyong’o.

What is your biggest pet peeve? Visibly wrinkled clothes.

Name one person who has inspired you in your life. Nelson Mandela.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? The Maldives (officially the Republic of Maldives) in South Asia.

If you could know the answer to one of life’s mysteries, which mystery would you choose? As humans, why do we think of ourselves as more un-alike as opposed to more alike? 

Describe yourself in three words. Kind, determined, diligent.

What book has had the greatest impact on you? “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.

What is the first movie you ever saw in a theater? “Rambo” with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor. 

What do you actually do at your job? As a family medicine physician, I help patients manage their health by empowering them with health and wellness education. I also evaluate, diagnose and treat their illnesses.

What do you love most about Fort Wayne? It’s a friendly, laid back and affordable city!

Do you have a motto you live by? If so, what is it? Live in the present, live life to the fullest and extend kindness to all.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, whom would you like to cast as you? Michael B. Jordan. 

What three items would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island (other than food and water)? A copy of the Bible, “Inward” by Yung Pueblo, and a good hat. 

If you had a time machine, where and to what time period would you travel? I would travel to the future (2040) to Mars.

What does your workout regimen consist of? Alternating running, lifting weights, lunges, squats and yoga.

What profession would you never try? Deep sea fishing.

If you could solve one major problem, what would it be? Racial inequality.

Where will you go on your next vacation? Morocco and India.

If you could give your 15-year-old self advice, what would it be? Trust life’s process.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? Focus on the goal; it will all work out. 

If you hosted a talk show, who would be your first guest? Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

What is one important skill you think everyone should have? Cooking healthy meals.

What skill would you like to master? Playing the guitar.

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic sport, what would you win a medal in? Traveling. 

What fad do you wish would come back or stay gone forever? Filling out paper forms can stay gone!

What was the last gift you gave someone? Kenyan Jewelry (earrings/bracelets).

What would you do with your 15 minutes of fame? Speak hopeful words, elevate marginalized people’s stories, and try to score a financial endorsement to transform those lives.

What is the most productive time of day for you? Mid-morning .

If you could send a message to the entire world, what would you say in 30 seconds? Share kindness and love. It’s life changing. 

If you received enough money to never need to work again, what would you spend your time doing? Educating the public on how to be healthier.

When was the last time you tried something new? Three weeks ago I tried Colombian food when I traveled to Columbia for a friend’s wedding. 

If you had to teach someone one thing, what would you teach? Public health and healthy diets.

What gets you excited and driven to achieve? My parents’ sacrifice.

If you could go back in time, once, and change a single thing, what would it be? Systemic racism.

What do you collect? Foreign currency and souvenir refrigerator magnets.

When was the last time you cried and why? This past weekend. I missed my family who visited for my birthday.

What is your earliest memory? Going to kindergarten.

When were you happiest? When I got into medical school.

What trait or habit in yourself do you deplore? Perfectionism.

Do you have any guilty pleasures? What are they? Sweets/chocolates.

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