After four years of striving against all odds to excel in school, Uzoma Miracle Chinonso, made himself and his parents proud by emerging as not only the best student in his department, but also the best graduating student in University of Port Harcourt's 2015/2016 session.
NAIJ.com had a chat with the trailblazer who graduated with a 4.82 CGPA, where he revealed his background and shared his success story. Read his story below:
Can you give a brief rundown of your background?
I am Uzoma, Miracle Chinonso, a 21-year-old Imolite...born on 27th June, 1995. The first son of two (boys) born to Mr Sampson Uzoma, a tailor, and Mrs Felicia Uzoma, a trader. Though being an Imolite, I see myself more as an Abian, as I was born and bred in Aba, Abia state.
Share your educational background:
I am a recent graduate of Plant Science and Biotechnology (PSB) from the University of Port-Harcourt (UPH).
I did my Elementary education at Cameroun Barracks Primary School, Aba...then my Secondary education at Ngwa High School, Aba. I now have a BSc in Plant Science and Biotechnology (PSB) from the Unique University of Port-Harcourt.
Did you ever think you would become the best graduating student of your school?
"Best Graduating Student"? NO. "Top of my class"? NO. I did not apply for PSB...I never knew such a course existed. I applied for medicine (which was the only science-related course I knew then, aside Nursing and Engineering).
When the admissions list came out, I saw my name as the second to the last name in the third list for PSB. It was the first time I came across the word "BIOTECHNOLOGY". I wasn't happy with the course...but my dad advised that I take it up...I had to take it up after I made him promise to sponsor my masters degree immediately after my B.Sc. He promised, so I took the course.
I intended writing JAMB again...but then a lecturer and cousin of mine, Dr. Achugasim Ozioma, suggested that if I could get up to 4.0 CGPA after my first year, that I could switch to Medicine.
That propelled me...and also owing to the fact that I wanted to prove a point to myself that despite my meagre school fees in high school, that I could compete favorably with those rich kids from rich schools if we're placed in the same study environment...learning with the same facilities.
After my first year, I came out already on first class...but I had already developed a liking for PSB. It was then that I decided not to switch to Medicine (which I later discovered was not my passion)...rather to channel all the energy and enthusiasm I'd have used to study medicine to get the best of PSB (my new found love).
When did you start thinking you could actually top the class?
I started thinking I'd be top of my class during my third year, but I was not sure. It was under a 50% probability.
My class was full of super brains...Sonia, Prince (both graduated first class too), Austin, Oluchi, Cindy etc...and when I saw these people studying, it would send shivers down my spine that made me sit up and up my game.
Was there ever anything that happened while you were in school to make you doubt your ability to eventually top your class?
The finances were a problem. I always saw myself as being financially disadvantaged...I never got the money for textbooks and other materials as at when needed (more like when wanted)...and I was not living on my own...I stayed with my aunt's family all through my schooling (and I stay there now; though not out of necessity now, but out of habit).
I told my dad, that if he wanted me to graduate with a first class, that he should meet just two conditions: First, get me a place to stay on my own. Second, get me my study materials as soon as I call for them. So bad..he didn't meet anyone of them.
That didn't deter me...instead I took solace in what my friend and senior prefect in high school told me, "poverty provides the best environment for academic success". So, I changed my mentality and started seeing my financial disadvantage as a blessing....though it's a blessing I'm fighting so hard to deny my children. Hahaha.
How did you avoid distractions? Did you have a girlfriend in the four years you were a student?
Hahaha...please, allow me to laugh out loud. I didn't mention that, apart from being financially disadvantaged, I was also socially disadvantaged. I never had a girlfriend...and that was because of my social disadvantage.
First, I don't have a sister, and my family upbringing never smiled at such boy-girl relations. Secondly, I'm a very shy person. My shyness is quite unique in that I'd rather face an audience of a million persons than face an audience of just one girl. I call it "single-person shyness". I think this developed because of my schooling...I attended a boys-only school.
Thirdly, I associate girls with time consumption and money consumption...and it so happened that TIME and MONEY were two things I never had. So, I never had a girlfriend...
What's the next move for you? Where do you go from here?
I intend going into the academia...establishing in UniPort, hopefully. I'll have to further my studies...in a more relaxed environment, hopefully outside Nigeria...then come back to apply my skills in full service to my fatherland...and probably do some politics. Hahaha.
At what level do you want to do politics?
State and national levels...haha..it's sounding funny, but I believe I can make a difference.
In what way do you believe you can make the difference?
Hahaha...I'll leave that question unanswered until I breathe life into my political being. I still have seven (7) years to voice out my answer to that question...and that's seven more years left to study the Nigerian political climate.
What advice do you have for undergraduates and people seeking admission into the university?
My advice for admission seekers and undergrads: A man who has a target, even when he misses, does not go far from it. When you have an aim and you pursue it diligently, pushing aside all distractions, that aim will surely materialize...God willing.
Then, some students set low targets for themselves...why will you aim to graduate with a second class upper when it is possible to grab a first class? Even if you miss the first class, you end up with a 2:1. "Why be a king when you can be a god?"
Set high standards for yourselves...that's prayer; then work towards it. I did...I slept for two (2) hours everyday for four years to rectify my academic disadvantages.
As universities open their doors to let in more students each year, this former student has set a standard and has become a shining example to both intending students and undergraduates.
Meanwhile, the president of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, recently awarded foreign scholarship to two students from Kwara state, for bagging First Class in the university.
NAIJ.com recently met with some Nigerians who were rewarded by the British Council, for distinguishing themselves during their course of study in the UK: