• First Class graduate of Industrial Physics at Covenant University shares the story of how she moved from knowing nothing at the beginning of the course to coming top, at the end
By Bianca Iboma
She is one of the 188 students who graduated in the 2016/2017 academic session recently from the Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State, with a first class. She scored 4.73 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA), to clinch the position. Earlier on, she and other students had represented Nigeria at the Annual Nuclear Energy Summit held this year in Mexico.
That shows you how brilliant 21-year-old Uzoamaka Pauline Okoro is. But when you talk of her making first class in her course, that is the end of the story, not the beginning. The start, for her, was slow, very slow. In fact, like she told Campus Sun, she knew next to nothing, at the beginning of the course.
“First week in class I found out that I didn’t know anything,” she confessed. “I was not up-to-date and could not answer questions in class like other students could. To me, they seemed to be more intelligent and brilliant, and when we had a test, I didn’t do well.”
The experience set her thinking of what she could do to remedy the situation. She decided she would best them (the other students) by finding out some of the things they knew by reading her books studiously. “It was then that I began to improve gradually,” she said. “I attended classes and basically listened to lectures and today I am so excited.”
But she admits that although her academic success in Industrial Physics started rather slowly, all the while, from the onset, she had her sight set on making first class. “I had a diploma certificate from University of Lagos, where I read Oil and Gas engineering with a 4.52 CCGP first class before gaining admission into Covenant University,” she said. “I already knew how things were, so I planned graduating with a first class.”
She told Campus Sun that she initially planned to read petroleum engineering but, in the long run, that dream did not materialize as she had hoped. Instead she was offered Industrial Physics.
“I had been doing well,” she said. “And you know that when you are doing well, people expect much from you. They don’t expect you to relapse. So, I guess thinking about that made me strive harder to make sure I was keeping pace. I have parents that expected me to do well. My Dad would always say to me, ‘you are my investment; I am investing into you so you can be useful to yourself and the world.’ So I gave it all I had.”
Asked if she ever came under any pressure because of such consciousness, she replied: “Not at all. I would not call it pressure. I just had parents who would pull me up whenever I was falling off the wagon. My father was checking on me whether I was studying hard and I would say yes, even if I was not at that time, because my father asked, I would start reading.”
On the challenges that students faced with reading, in the light of the presence of social media apps, she said: “Basically, students face a lot of challenges and equally there are distractions like social media. But If you know the reason you came to school and for someone who has a father like mine, Chief Innocent Okoro, you take academics serious and ensure that you have good grades cause my Dad likes investing on education and would encourage you to perform well in school.
“Most time students are busy sending text messages on Facebook, tweeting back and forth with friends and celebrities alike. Freshmen spend upwards of 12 hours a day using some forms of social media that turn out to affect their interest. Constant use of the social media brings about poor academic performance. There is nothing wrong with students networking with social media but there is negative impact it has on the students who spent most time using social media. They are affected; you find them having problems completing some homeworks and attending classes and lower academic confidence. The two media related activities that I think could lead to higher grade point averages is listening to music and reading the newspaper.”
She believes in God’s grace and hard work as well, she said. She attributes her success to hard work combined with God’s grace. “Going through school, I was not the only intelligent student around but I had to put in some efforts as a person,” she said. Although some students who graduated with second-class upper or lower division and even third class could be said to be more brilliant, the difference, she insists, is in her persistence and God’s grace.
“It is not all about certificate,” she said. “I can defend my certificate though I am not a book smirk and not too smart but God always designs things for me.”