Kara Ufuoma, 25, graduated with a first class from the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Benin, Edo State, having had a 4.59 CGPA.
Its enough work graduating with a First Class, but graduating with a 4.59 GPA is just incredible.
Kara Ufuoma, 25, graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Benin, Edo State, having had a 4.59 GPA, Punch reports.
He spoke in an interview about how he managed to pull off the achievement.
To do well in school, one needs to devote time to study. In my case, I ensured I was punctual in attending lectures and I studied several textbooks to help consolidate my understanding of the courses. I surrounded myself mostly with people who took their academics seriously. I was also constantly motivating myself whenever I was overwhelmed by the rigours of schoolwork. There is really no scale to measure how easy or difficult it is to have a first class, but I can emphatically say that it requires hard work, discipline, focus and a desire to be excellent. Initially, it was just a wish, but with time, the desire grew and I found out it wasn’t an impossible task. There were stories about how difficult it could be to get a first class and how students who merited it had been victimised by sadistic lecturers, but that didn’t affect my resolve, rather, it galvanised me to work harder. However, I wouldn’t rule out God’s grace because I know God has been gracious to me.
I will not completely shy away from the fact that people see engineering courses as difficult, but inasmuch as I don’t consider engineering to be difficult, it does require dedication, hard work, and I think passion for the chosen branch of engineering one chooses to dive into could guarantee good success. If you have a passion for whatever you engage in, the probability of success will be high. I enjoyed studying chemical engineering and gained deep understanding of the underlying principles, thus it culminated in my graduating with a first class. Nonetheless, I have always excelled academically right from my elementary school through secondary school days. I had the best result in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination in my school with six A1’s and two B2’s and I had a good UTME score when I wrote the exam. But when I got to school, I still studied hard.
Studying Chemical Engineering was not an accident, I was completely in love with chemistry and very proficient in mathematics. So, I thought of a field of study that didn’t only incorporate these subjects, but one that was also protean in its scope of application. If I didn’t study chemical engineering, I most likely would have studied chemistry or maybe biochemistry. I wasn’t really keen on being an engineer as a child because I grew up in an environment filled with military doctors, so back then every kid around the block wanted to be a doctor. When the time finally presented itself to make a career choice, I realised I had a predilection for the engineering field, chemical engineering specifically.
Chemical Engineering is a branch of Engineering that applies the principles of mathematics, physics, chemistry and economics to convert less valuable materials (raw materials) to a more valuable form (products). This can be observed in the refining process, where crude oil is converted to more valuable end products such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel etc. via the process of distillation and sometimes catalytic cracking. It should be noted that this field is not limited to the conversion process, but also subsumes optimisation to ensure that economic value is created at the end of the day. Chemical engineers are involved in the design of plant and specification of equipment to carry out the various processes and may also be involved in the daily operations of such plants.
Chemical engineering has a lot of applications in Nigeria, ranging from the oil and gas industry; where chemical engineers function as plant operators, reservoir engineers etc., to pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, cement, petrochemicals, textile, rubber and ceramics, soap manufacturing and many other related industries. It’s a course that finds application in a number of industries, even in Nigeria.
I never had difficulty securing admission, but I made a wrong choice when I wrote my first Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination. I was deceived into believing that Chemical Engineering was a provincial field and so I was persuaded to apply for Medicine. I never had the zeal or conviction to study Medicine, so I had to wait until the next academic session to write another UTME and apply for Chemical Engineering. Today, I’m glad I made that choice.
I performed well in my first year but I had a challenge in my second year because I wasn’t reading until a day or two days to my exam. That was my undoing. My GPA suffered for that recklessness and that was when I had my lowest GPA. I had 3.92 whereas I had 4.67 in 100 Level. When I saw my 300 Level result and my GPA rose to 4.71 after an abysmal 200 Level performance, that was my happiest moment as an undergraduate. In 400 Level, I had 4.8 and 500 Level, I had 4.65.
Even though I think I am naturally smart, I had to devote more time to studying. Sometimes I had to study for very long hours. Therefore, I feel mine was a blend of natural intelligence and hard work. I tried to stay motivated. Sometimes I read stories of people who attained great feats academically and such stories spurred me to work harder.
My life in school was like a triangle. I would go for lectures, went back to my room, and on fellowship days I would go to church. On other days, I stayed in my room. I ensured I rested well everyday. I was sleeping for at least six hours on the average, but there were days I didn’t sleep at all probably due to lots of assignments that I had to turn in at the same time. I didn’t really have a defined pattern of studying, I could study for as much as eight hours and sometimes I would struggle to read for one hour. I used to read at night right from my secondary school days, but at the tail end of my days in the university, I utilised my day time adequately and slept for the most part of the night. Exam periods were usually very hectic periods for me because during this period, I spent most of the time sleeping or reading. Sometimes I turned off my phones to avoid unwanted distraction, but exams never hindered me from attending fellowship. I rarely used the library. Throughout my days in school as an undergraduate, I’m not sure I used the library up to 20 times because I had most of the resources I needed to study. It was either I procured the hard copies or e-books.
I think I had a way of circumventing events that will propagate such gestures, but I had very good female friends. However, the girls in my class once accused me that I was only relating with ladies that I perceived to be intelligent, but that wasn’t true.
I wasn’t the gregarious type, so I hardly participated in social events, but I attended a few dinners. There were times that all I wanted was to just enjoy the solitude of my room, so at such times, I would rather stay in my room and read. At my leisure, I usually played video games or be in company of friends. I could take a stroll too.
The level of unemployment in the country right now is indeed high, but I do not bother myself with it. I try to channel my thoughts and energy into being the best I can be and acquiring as much knowledge and skill, which in turn will make me more valuable to prospecting employers.
I want to pursue a PhD in Chemical Engineering at the University of Austin, Texas, specialising in biotechnology and its application in renewable and sustainable energy development. Thereafter, I hope to start up a company in Nigeria that will utilise the knowledge acquired from my research to produce clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. If I can achieve this, I will be helping in a way to solve the unemployment crisis in the country.
I advise students to study hard, associate with students who are focused, and they should invest in books. They should also ensure they go through their entire coursework for the semester at least once before the commencement of exams. It will also help if they can find someone doing very well in their department to play the role of a mentor to them.