In 2017, Joseph, a native Detroiter recently had just broken up with his long-distance girlfriend and was not interested in starting another relationship. Additionally, he had worked as an unpaid medical research analyst last year and founded a non-profit. Needless to say, he was more excited to start his Internal Medicine residency at DMC Sinai Grace to finally get paid.
Felicia moved to Michigan for her Dermatology residency at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in 2016 and being content in her career, its trajectory, and the lackluster attempts from multiple men and their mothers for her attention, was not interested in another relationship.
In the summer of 2017, Felicia’s mentor had introduced her to Joseph at their local church. After the introduction, the two continued to grow closer. Joseph, a couple months into his Internal Medicine residency had just flown back from his vacation in Miami and Felicia was in her 2nd year of Dermatology residency, welcomed Joseph into her house. As Felicia will recall, “Joseph walked into my house and only said, “It has taken me a couple of months to figure you out. But I know who you are now. You are a Queen. I have searched for you my whole life. I love you, Felicia. We should be together because you are My Queen.” With those words, I melted because I knew his certainty and his seriousness. All I remember saying back was, “I love you too. My King.” Then we shared our first kiss.
Since that time, Felicia and I have practiced merging our individual histories, perspectives, expectations, and desires into a single unit. Our core vision for our relationship is: We always protect, always build up and never are broken.
Through their personal and professional hardships, Drs. Joseph and Felicia Claiborne are demonstrating their deep sense of commitment to each other and their innate desire to help their communities. Before they became health professionals, Joseph worked as an unpaid research analyst while starting his nonprofit organization, Triad Sports Institute. Sadly, Felicia endured the loss of her father, Dr. Edwin Ekpo during medical school. To honor her promise to her father, she maintained a 3.9 GPA, graduated from medical school, and moved to Michigan for her dermatology residency to become the first African American dermatology resident at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
Drs. Joseph and Felicia Claiborne believe their wedding anniversary on May 23, 2020, is the perfect opportunity to promote the mentorship of today’s youth through the joy of giving to a worthy cause. As newlywed philanthropic physicians through their 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Joseph and Felicia were inspired to establish The Dr. Edwin Ekpo/ I Do 2 I Give Scholarship fund. The scholarship recipients will be honored at their wedding. The scholarship is named after the late Dr. Edwin Ekpo, who lived a life of giving to improve his community. He dedicated his time to helping the youth to achieve their aspirations by mentoring students. They dedicate this scholarship in his name to provide high school students with the support to reach their educational goals and empower the nation’s next generation of leaders as Dr. Edwin did.