Twenty-six years old Mrs. Chidiebere Peace Nwankwo was among 57 First Class graduates of Lagos State University (LASU) at the 23rd convocation ceremony this week.
Chidiebere revealed how she rejected admission at Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT) and wrote Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) four times before she secured admission in 2014 at LASU. In between studies, she gave birth to four children and was even pregnant during her final year and still made First Class.
Dean, Faculty of Science, Prof. Benjamin Aribisala, said her case was unique because as the mother of four young kids, she managed the home front, taking care of the kids as well as the husband and also struggled with her university education. Despite the challenges, she came out with a First Class.
After my secondary in 2009, I wrote JAMB and got admission in ESUT to study computer science, but I did not go because I got married and my husband Mr. Theophilus Nwankwo is based in Lagos. I had to re-write jamb the following year, 2010, trying to get admission into UNILAG to study computer engineering but I didn’t get admission despite scoring 75 in UNILAG post-UTME. My father encouraged me to register for part-time studies in LASU Festac campus instead of staying at home mum. I gained admission into LASU part-time to computer science in 2010. While I was attending part-time studies and I was still writing jamb because I was determined to attend a conventional university. I wrote JAMB four times. The last one I wrote in 2014 before I was given admission to study computer science in LASU. I was the highest during LASU batch A post-UTME 2014/2015. I had to stop part-time studies at 300Level because I missed the semester exams due to childbirth. I had my 3rd child. I felt very sad because I knew I can never get a good result with nine carryovers. So I had to write JAMB in 2014, I scored 228.
FELT LIKE ABANDONING STUDIES
Yes, there were times I felt like abandoning my studies because of the stress, it was very difficult for me as I had to work very hard and study harder in order to maintain my grade. Also, due to the strikes, I felt like four years was taking too long. It was frustrating.
How I COMBINED STUDIES AND HOME FRONT
As a mother, I did the very best I could but I had a lot of support from my lovely husband, my entire family especially my mum, my friends even my counselor, Mr. Godspower Ikechi encouraged me not to give up but keep my eyes on the price. I had to take care of the home, get the kids ready for school, before going for my lectures. Once I am done in school, I go back home to take care of the home. From my secondary school days, I learned from my friend, Ezeibe Sandra, how to study at any time of the day, so I can study in the library, in class between lectures, or during the day with my kids at home or at night between 9pm – 4am. I still make out time to attend parties, school activities etc. but I also try my best to attend lectures.
MAKING FIRST CLASS
Before entering into LASU, I was told it was impossible to make First Class because of LASU high standards. I challenged myself. After my first semester in 100level, I had a CGPA of 4.86. I was very happy and called my elder sister she encouraged me to keep it up. I was also encouraged by my lecturer Prof. Aribisala Benjamin who told me it was possible to make First Class. So I tried my best to maintain the CGPA.
HOW I COPED DURING ASUU STRIKE AND INTERNAL CRISES
During the ASUU strike and internal crises in LASU, I study only at night and I usually go to my husband shop during the day or pick my kids from school. So basically, it’s family time during the day and studies time during the night.
MY KIDS ASK ME WHERE I GO WHEN LEAVING HOME FOR LECTURES
My kids grew up knowing mummy has to go to school like them because I started part-time studies when my first child was less than a year old. 2019 made it nine years of going to university. So they mostly ask why I couldn’t attend their school function, or why I can’t pick them after school every day like other mothers do. Also, they ask me every day “mummy, when are you going to finish schooling?”, “when you finish schooling, what do you want to do?”, “when you finish from LASU, will you start another school?”
PREGNANCY AND STUDIES
During 400Level first semester, I was pregnant, I had to stop doing a lot of house chores because of my health, I couldn’t read overnight because I was always feeling too tired. So I read during the day. After first semester exams, my GPA and CGPA was 4.70 and 4.67 respectively. I missed a few lectures due to a hospital appointment or traffic jam. It was my toughest semester because of my health, I never believed I will make a CGPA above 4.5 but God was merciful to me. At a point, I felt like deferring the semester, but my husband and lecturers encouraged me and asked me to do my best and pray. After the semester, we had three months break. In September we resumed the final semester in school and I was eight months pregnant. In October 2018, after a few weeks of lectures, I was delivered of a baby boy. One week later, ASUU started a nationwide strike. It was called off in February 2019, my son was already three months old. I took him to school and my mother took care of him while I attend lectures and I wrote exams my final exams in March 2019. I gave birth to my first child before gaining admission for part time. During my part-time study, I had my second child. I also had my third child, but while I was in the hospital for the birth, I missed the whole semester exams. When she was ten months, I wrote JAMB and got admission to LASU. I had three kids before resuming. I had my fourth child in 2018 in 400 level. He was four months old when I wrote my final exam
RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUNG COLLEAGUES IN THE CLASS
As a mother of four kids, I relate with my course mates well because my course mates were matured at heart, fun and supportive. I didn’t see anyone as being too young. I have four kids but I am not the oldest in class as some of my course mates were older than I am. Being a mom makes it easy for me to relate with them. Most of them didn’t actually believe I was even married when we first met, but with time they did.
TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE FIRST CLASS
Firstly, I will give all the praise to God for this grace, then I had a strong support system. My husband ensured I have all I needed and wants during my schooling, he supported me. I also had the support of my lecturers, my family, my friends, my pastor, and nannies. So all I had to actually do was study very hard and delegate some duties to my support system.