Chinelo Stella Emelife, the first class graduate of Usman Danfodio University, who graduated as the best Master’s degree student in the University of Mysore, India, winning 20 medals for her outstanding performance, reveals the secret of her outstanding performance:
You won 20 medals for your outstanding performance in the University of Mysore, India. What would you attribute your academic success to?
I attribute my academic success to the unfailing grace of God and of course lots of hard work, determination and courage.
What kind of challenges did you encounter as a foreign student?
Cultural shock. It was my first time outside the shores of Nigeria. Sincerely, India is totally different from Nigeria in virtually everything, especially culture.
So, adapting to the way of life, accent, food and highly intensive academic environment in my school was much struggle for me, especially because I was the only foreigner in my class.
I would say to the best of my knowledge, quality of education in India is way higher but I think Nigeria could do better if the right policies were put in place
How did you surmount the challenges?
This is exactly where the grace of God comes in. As much as I tried my best to catch up with the Indian students who were already used to the academic system, I was always praying and surrendering to the help of God.
It was same with the food and lifestyle. I think at some point, I just told myself, ‘You are here for two years so get used to it!’
And boom, I got used to everything eventually to the point I even got the Indian accent while speaking. I’m struggling now to get rid of it since I’m now in Nigeria.
We have seen a couple Nigerian graduates excel in foreign universities. Your case is another good example. Does this justify the belief that Nigerian universities lay a solid foundation for their products or is yours a case of personal discipline and diligence?
I think it is more of a case of personal discipline and diligence than the former. I am not saying the universities in Nigeria didn’t give me that solid foundation though.
But, I believe that success is more of a personal decision than one’s background.
Having schooled in Nigeria and India, how would you rate the educational system in both countries?
Nigeria has all it takes to go farther than India in education. However, funds meant for education are either not enough or not properly channeled. India gives education priority.
So, I would say to the best of my knowledge, quality of education in India is way higher but I think Nigeria could do better if the right policies were put in place.
I was the best graduating student of Usman Danfodiyo University 2013/2014 academic session, but no one heard about it
Are there things peculiar to the Indian educational system that Nigeria could learn or adopt to improve ours?
Like I have said earlier, Nigeria needs to make the education sector a priority, put in enough funds especially at the basic and secondary level.
Also, like India, Nigeria could learn to acknowledge academic excellence better. Students who have distinguished themselves academically should be well acknowledged, celebrated and guided very closely to reach their career goals.
Let me chip in here that you only got to know about me because of my academic excellence in India, however I was the best graduating student of Usman Danfodiyo University 2013/2014 academic session, but no one heard about it. So that explains everything.
What is your next move?
I’m looking forward to getting a job in the academia as a lecturer or in the chemical industry where I can improve on my industrial experience in the research and development department or quality control unit. I’m open to getting job offers from anywhere in the world.
Are you beginning to get job offers?
Job offers? No! Sadly! But I’m hopeful. Maybe this interview will land me the NNPC job I have applied for. (smiles).
One of the greatest empowerment you can give a child is quality education
As a young woman, what is your key message to Nigerian leaders and other stakeholders on girl-child education?
Every child irrespective of gender deserves a good life and I believe that one of the greatest empowerment you can give a child is quality education. So, whether boy or girl, every child deserves to be educated.
What would you tell a young girl of eight or nine to inspire her to greatness?
Be yourself, play when it’s play time, chat with your friends, study when it’s time to and don’t ever think your dreams are not valid, they definitely are and will unfold gradually when you grow up.
As a product of a Nigerian public university, where do you see the country’s public education system in the next 20 years?
With the recent pace, I’m afraid it may just be same story. However, if more strategic steps were taken intentionally by the government on education, things could change for the better.