A young man, Eke Ifeanyichukwu Emmanuel has graduated as the 2015/2016 best graduating student of University of Nigeria, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.83.
revealed that in order to survive as a student, he used ropes as belts and drank garri daily. Excerpts: By Kelechukwu Iruoma May I know you? I am Eke Ifeantichukwu Emmanuel, a first class graduate of the department of Microbiology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
How do you feel having emerged as the overall best?
I feel excited. I see it as a realized dream. During the 2012/2013 award night ceremony, I was opportune to have attended the award night. At the ceremony, I was so excited seeing students like me shaking dignitaries and principal officers of the university. Eke Ifeantichukwu Emmanuel, UNN best Graduating student That day, I desired to be like them. I was motivated. That same night, I went back to my room and brought out my diary. I wrote a prayer request to God, that God, I want to be a first class student of Microbiology in my department and in the whole institution; I want to be the best. It is a realized dream.
What were the challenges you passed through while in school?
I had a whole lot of challenges. One of them was financial challenge. I am from a very humble background. We reside in Aba. I remember in my first and second years, I used to drink garri (cassava flakes) and eat Fibre active biscuit. It was a daily ration to me. I also used ropes as belts as a student. I remember then, I had few clothes. No shoes to where, only slippers. Having money to pay my fees was an issue. I stayed in the hostel from first year till I graduated. In my first year, I was having an eye challenge. Then, I would be seated in front of the classroom. Yet, I would not see what was written on the board. No money to go to the hospital for check up talk less of getting glasses. I had a D in a three unit load first year course. It was a motivational factor that spurred me into reading more. Were you anti-social while in school? I do mingle around and participate in some social activities. Recently, my classmates analysed me. One of my classmates described me on social media as having ‘a carryover in social activities’. When we play class football matches, I do come around to motivate them. I do not play with them. I can’t say that I am anti social. I can’t say that I am also social. I am just a reserved person.
Why did you choose Microbiology as a discipline?
It was when I got admission that I started seeing the whole things about Medicine. I looked at Microbiology and I said why not study these little creatures that impede the world. They control the world. When you look at diseases, micro organisms are the ones controlling the world. About 70 percents of oxygen available in the world is being contributed by micro organisms. Studying Microbiology was my passion. And studying little creatures gives my joy. Did you attend night classes when you were in school? Night classes did not work for me. There is a difference between diligence and hard work. You look at yourself and try to understand yourself, the whole physiology and the way your body works. I tried going to night class but it did not work for me in the sense that I would go to night class and have two or three hours of sleep, come back again, I will still sleep. So, night class did not contribute at all to my success. You try to be diligent in your work. Diligence has to do with your work being efficient in the sense that 12 hours reading at a stretch do not work for me. I can maximize my time. I will go to my hostel, have enough sleep, go to my reading room, read, come back, prepare for classes and before I reach my hostel, I would branch the library and read again. I am not a night class type.
What did you do as the best graduating student that you think others did not do?
While in SS1, I came across Ben Carson’s book, ‘Think Big’. In that book, I learnt one principle which helped me. It is called ‘In-depth research study principle’. I try to look at various authors’ perspectives on one particular topic. I try to go deep by getting author A text book, author C text book and so on. That is one of the things that helped me. In class, I listen attentively. Though people call me ‘Prof’, I do not feel too proud to learn. Knowledge and pride do not go hand-in-hand. They are antagonistic in nature. I always give my best in whatever I do.
What is your dream having graduated from the university?
My dream is to continue giving my best. I see myself as an educationalist. I want to establish schools. I want to change the ways our secondary school students are being taught. I want to change the educational system of Nigeria. I want to bring good methods on how to teach them. But before then, I want to do my postgraduate study. I love teaching. I do organize tutorials for fellow students while in school. During holidays, I do work as a secondary teacher in schools. I love teaching and as I teach, I understand better. I see myself as an upcoming lecturer and a voice in my field. What advice do you have for students looking up to you? The advice I have for them is the advice Paul gave to Timothy when he said, ‘Study to shew yourself approved unto God first of all and unto men’. They should make sure they give their best, make sure they are always satisfied whenever they come out from exam halls. For those coming out from poor or humble background like me, your humble background cannot stop you from reaching an exceptional position. Let your humble background push you forward; let it not draw you backward. You can still make it, no matter what.