What was your educational background prior to your feat in FUTO?
I had a very poor beginning in my education, especially from my nursery to primary schools. In fact, I was coming last in class at the end of every term to the point that my younger brother caught up with me in primary six and we were in the same class. As you could easily imagine, it was very challenging for me and I had no option but to buckle down to being serious with my studies. Despite that, he was still ahead of me academically. When I got to secondary school, my happiest day was when I came fourth in Junior Secondary School 1 and frankly, that encouraged me to be more serious with my studies and I maintained that seriousness till I got to Senior Secondary School 2. I was even made the Library Prefect. I passed all my subjects at a sitting in the (West African) Senior School Certificate Examination and my SSCE result was the best among my five other siblings, who were also very brilliant.
Did you experience any delay in getting admission to the university of your choice?
I had a good score in my first Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. I scored 256 and I applied for Nursing at the University of Port Harcourt but I didn’t get admission, because my post-UTME score was not good enough. I retook the examination in 2012 and got 211 to either study Industrial Microbiology in the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (first choice) or Biochemistry at Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike (second choice). Even with the results, I still did not get admission to MOUAU. I later applied for supplementary admission to FUTO. When the first admission list came out, my name was not there, but it came out in the final list and it was for the Department of Forestry and Wild Life Technology, not for Industrial Microbiology that I had applied for.
Since Forestry and Wild Life Technology was not what you applied for, did you know anything about the course before then?
I didn’t know anything about the course, but my parents and siblings advised me to take the course and apply for a change of course in my second year. On my own, I also did some online research to know more about the course. The change of course did not happen eventually, so, when I got to my second year, I decided to continue with the course, believing that God knew why He brought me to the department. With that, I summoned courage, continued and started loving the course. But my parents asked what I planned to make of the course, and I tried to convince them that it would be fine. Over time, my love for the course began to grow.
Could you tell us briefly what the course is all about?
Forestry and Wild Life Technology is not really a popular course in Nigeria, when compared with courses like Engineering, Medicine and Pharmacy, among others. Even though it is a discipline that cuts across other disciplines in life, people look at the course as a discipline that offers nothing tangible to the society. In fact, some of my colleagues in other departments embarrassed me with funny questions. For instance, they made jest of us by asking me, ‘Are you going to the Sambisa Forest from FUTO; Will you be doing surgical operations on wild animals like antelopes, zebras, alligators and crocodiles, among other questions? Unknown to them, the course has its applications in several areas of human endeavours. Talk about medicine, they make use of herbal trees to make some of their drugs. In terms of the environment, we talk about global warming and climate change without knowing that the trees can cushion their effect, and that is because the trees serve as carbon sinkers. Again, in engineering, they make use of wood, which is a product of forest, for construction works. So, it’s nicer than what people know about it.
Where will you like to work?
I have passion for lecturing, and that is because I have major roles to play in this divinely-given discipline and I’m preparing myself for that.
Do you plan to continue your studies along the same line?
Of course, especially because I have keen love for calculations, and it is because of this that I want to study Forest Biometrics in my Master’s Degree programme. I will also cap it up with a Doctorate degree in the course, by the grace of Almighty God.
Given that not every student makes first class; in your own case, how did you make it?
Prior to my admission, my elder sisters who were then undergraduates told me stories of their experiences on campus. That was a great guide for me, because at an early stage, I learnt to take my lectures, tests and exams very seriously, but it still wasn’t easy. However, I thank God Almighty, who sustained me all through. But, I had a plan I was working with, and at the end of my first year, I had 4.00 CGPA. That, for me, was more of an encouragement. Instead of relenting and thinking I had tried, I worked harder. In the second semester of my second year, I started seeing ‘A’ as the only grade to have.
Did it at anytime cross your mind that you could be the overall best student?
If I was told I would be the overall best graduating student, otherwise called Victor Ludorum, for the 2016/2017 academic session in FUTO, I wouldn’t have believed it. This was because from the annals of FUTO, School of Engineering has been taking the overall best position. Again, in my final year, I never knew that my CGPA was the highest, until three days to the convocation. I got to know when our Head of Department, who was also my project supervisor, Dr. Daniel Edet, called and told me that I should start preparing my valedictory speech.
At that point, what crossed your mind?
Sincerely, I was shocked and happy because I never knew I could be the best. I was truly happy.
Were there distractions on your path to success, especially while trying to make ‘A’ the only score to make in all exams?
Yes, I encountered some distractions on campus but I tried my best to suppress them. There were some that bordered me. One of them was the incessant questions from students, especially roommates, who were always asking me, “Why do you not have a boyfriend?” And that was because they said they had not seen any guy coming to check on me. Of course, I knew what I was after and I’m glad I got it.
Was it that guys didn’t approach you or you didn’t give them a chance?
A lot of them did, actually, but it largely seemed like distraction to me.
Does it mean you were not sociable at all?
I’m not very sociable, but despite that, my close friends enjoyed staying with me. They found it very easy to get along with me, but perhaps some people misunderstood my personality from a distance.
What were the problems you encountered as an undergraduate alongside social distractions?
Some of the problems I encountered must have been rectified by now by the university management. I encountered problems of shortage of water and power supply on campus. There were times the water pumping machine, otherwise called ‘manpower’ failed. That made us to trek to the farthest hostel to scramble for water. However, I thank the university management presently led by Prof. Francis Eze for dealing with the problem of shortage of lecture rooms and making available conducive environment for teaching and learning in FUTO.
To what extent did your parents influence your achievement?
They played very huge roles in my life, not only in my academic work. While I was a dullard (laughs), my parents employed the services of a private teacher who taught me. Though, that did not actually make any immediate positive impact, they did not relent. They kept on encouraging me and giving me the best things I needed. They also tried as much as possible to enrol me into good schools that would help.
What type of man do you wish to marry?
It is not all about studying books and learning, I want to get married and have my own children. The kind of man I wish to have as my husband is somebody who also values education, understands me and is sincere and God-fearing.
What periods do you consider as your most memorable moments?
Just like I pointed out earlier, I cannot forget in a hurry the day I came fourth in my JSS 1. The day my grandmother died was also dear to me and I won’t forget my friends – Moses Okereke and Chisom Duruokpo – who died. Moses was the Senior Prefect in my secondary school while I was the Library Prefect. He also made a first class in Chemistry from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but died after his convocation in a ghastly motor accident. Also, Chisom was the Assistant Secretary-General of FUTO’s Students’ Union Government when I was in Year One. The last but not the least and in fact the greatest memorable moment was my being called out from over 2,335 students in my set to deliver the valedictory speech at FUTO’s 30th convocation ceremony.
What would be your advice to undergraduates?
I advise students to take their studies very seriously. I would also admonish students to work hard irrespective of the state of the nation’s economy. They (students) should try as much as possible to avoid any form of distraction from the pursuit; and to all mankind, total belief in God Almighty is the ultimate.