Dr. Chiamaka Enemuoh’s Journey to Duluth and Entrepreneurship
Starting a new business is no easy feat. And, if the entrepreneur is an immigrant, the challenges can quickly multiply. In addition to hard work and dedication, success can require things like learning a new language, picking up new customs and traditions, and, if you’re in Duluth, adjusting to some pretty extreme temperatures.
Dr. Chiamaka Enemuoh (her last name is pronounced like “anymore” without the R) emigrated to the United States from Nigeria as a young adult. Today, she is the owner and president of a successful business - Lifestone Health Care Assisted Living.
While she has earned plenty of personal and professional success, there have also been some obstacles to overcome. For instance, Dr. Enemuoh shared one of the humorous ways she practiced her English as a new immigrant.
“I already spoke English when I came to the U.S., but I had trouble understanding anyone else because people spoke really fast,” she said.
“So, I watched a lot of Judge Judy to practice hearing and understanding English. A couple of weeks later, I could understand everything!”
Upon moving to the U.S., Enemuoh and her family of origin settled in Madison, Wisconsin. She later moved to the Twin Ports after meeting her husband, Dr. Emmanuel Enemuoh, who is a full professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Interestingly, Emmanuel is also a Nigerian immigrant.
Enemuoh has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UW-Platteville, a bachelor’s of nursing degree from the College of St. Scholastica (CSS), and a doctor of nursing practice degree, also from CSS. Additionally, she remains board-certified as an advanced practice registered nurse - in both Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Enemuoh founded Lifestone Health Care Assisted Living in 2014. It was originally located in Duluth’s Piedmont neighborhood but moved to Proctor in 2016 when a convenient, one-level facility became available.
Lifestone’s motto is “Genuine care for all people,” and its values include being reliable, respectful, and rock-solid. Lifestone is unique in that it is home to only 10 clients – all requiring a high degree of specialized support.
“The most rewarding thing to me is transforming the lives of people who come in during periods of instability,” Enemuoh shared. “They’re looking for a good place to help them stabilize to improve their health. People tell me they’ll wait in line to come here.”
Among others, Lifestone’s staff roster includes Chiamaka Enemuoh as president and Emmanuel Enemuoh as vice-president – both of whom are also certified as licensed assisted living directors. “Everyone is short-staffed right now, but on our best days, we have between 12 and 15 employees,” Enemuoh shared. “We have a program manager, an administrative assistant, an activities coordinator, and several caregivers, who are either CNAs or PCAs.
“You can’t run a business by yourself, and I want to thank both my present and past employees,” she added. “I also want to acknowledge my husband’s love and support.”
Civic Duties and Volunteer Work
In addition to owning and operating her business, Enemuoh maintains a variety of personal and professional affiliations. She is a member of the Duluth Chamber Board of Directors and its Executive Board. She is the Vice-Chair of both Fuse Duluth and Leadership Duluth – two additional Chamber organizations.
Enemuoh is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and the Board of Directors for the Women’s Business Alliance through the Entrepreneur Fund. Most recently, she became a member of the Entrepreneur Fund’s Stride Committee, where she provides mentorship for other minority business owners. She is also a member of the Duluth Workforce Development Board of Directors.
She noted that, while there aren’t many other Nigerians in the Twin Ports that she is aware of, Duluth is home to a significant African population. Enemuoh belongs to a group called African Sisters Duluth, an African women’s organization.
Enemuoh and her family are also deeply involved with their church – St. Benedict Catholic Church. “Our church community is very important to us,” she noted.
Family and Hobbies
Chiamaka and Emmanuel have two teenage children, a daughter, Adaeze, and a son, Ezechukwu (“Eze”). The family also includes a tank of freshwater fish called Cichlids. The Enemuoh family makes their home in the Duluth Heights neighborhood.
In her spare time, Enemuoh enjoys music, traveling, and spending time with her family. Her eclectic musical tastes span everything from Nigerian music to Beyoncé. “Good music is good music,” she said simply.
She and her family return to Nigeria as often as possible. They also enjoy traveling to other international and domestic locales.
From Nigeria to Duluth
As one could imagine, moving from Nigeria to Duluth, Minnesota, was a bit of a culture shock. Enemuoh explained some of the significant differences between the two places.
“The relationships are somewhat surprising here,” she explained. “You could be neighbors with someone and not even know it. In Nigeria, you would know the whole neighborhood.
“Also, I had never heard the word depression, and loneliness isn’t really an issue there. In Nigeria, you don’t have time to be alone, and people just have different worries.”
Despite the differences, Enemuoh has found a happy home in Duluth. “Duluth offers a very small community feeling,” she said. “I’m not a big city type of person, and I really like the peace and quiet. It’s a good place to live. You can get to work, and anywhere else, quickly, and there are some really good people here. It’s also a good place to raise kids”
Goals and Dreams
Dr. Enemuoh has some notable goals and dreams she is working toward, both personally and professionally. “I want to have a sustainable business that runs efficiently, is profitable, provides quality service, and where I am able to take care of my employees,” she said.
“And personally, I am working on my work-life balance. It’s a struggle sometimes for entrepreneurs. Mostly, I just want to enjoy life with my family and friends.”