A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success-
It was a dream come true for Mrs. Anthonia Okoye, a 43- year old mother of five as she graduated from the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) last Saturday.
Mrs. Anthonia Okoye emerged as the best graduating student of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN)
Okoye from the Abuja Study Centre of the university did not only graduate with First Class honour in Peace and Conflict Resolution, the grade that was never recorded in the history of the 14-year-old institution, she was also the overall best of her set of over 7,000 students.
That is not all. Okoye was equally the best in her faculty and the department and she was consequently rewarded for the achievement. Aside the material rewards which came in cash and items, she was equally offered automatic teaching employment by the university.
Interestingly, becoming a graduate had been a long time dream for her. Okoye had attempted three different tertiary institutions in the past without success.
She was an OND 2 Accountancy student in distinction grade at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos when her first attempt was scuttled.
A fellow student, according to her, was caught while copying her answers’ script during an exam and the two of them were punished for the act.
“We were both asked to repeat the whole session as our punishment for what the school called exam malpractice and that was how I abandoned the school because of shame,” she recalled.
After that incident, she got admission into the University of Lagos, Akoka but she could not attend because of financial constraint. “I also got admission into University of Abuja much later but I couldn’t go because I’d just delivered a baby at the time of their resumption,” she added.
Okoye from Edo State almost lost hope of ever becoming a graduate until her husband bought her the NOUN’s admission form.
“He encouraged me to give NOUN a trial since studies there are done online and not like the formal and conventional university. I thank God I heeded his advice and that is why I can tell the whole world today of a success story.”
At the institution’s convocation ceremony, Okoye stole the show. Her name became a toast for audience including her mates as she was called now and then to the podium to receive one prize or the other.
“It is now that I have some sense of fulfilment and I give God all the glory,” she told our correspondent shortly after the ceremony. “He is the one who makes all things possible.”
The convocation was the fourth edition for the university. Okoye had been academically sound right from her primary school days such that she always came first in class. That was why she considered the entire period she was out of school painful.
“Although, I may not say I am a genius, I am above average academically. And I thank God I still maintain the standard even as a mother,” she said. “But I must say it wasn’t an easy thing.”
While in NOUN, Okoye had challenges of combining her tailoring work with the family demands and studies, yet she maintained a balance.
“It was really a stressful period but I didn’t allow that to scuttle my ambition. I might be reading at times while the baby would also be crying for attention. Oftentimes on such occasions, especially during exams I would have to do the two together.
I would be reading while the baby would be sucking the breast. But I thank God that I have a husband that understands.
He really supported me, especially during exams and my project to the extent that I almost turned him to a nanny. My first born, who is now in SS2 was also helpful.
So, everybody in the family sacrificed in a way to the success,” she said. Interestingly, Okoye still wants to further her education at least up to doctorate degree level.
She told schoolwatch.com.ng grapevine that while she would continue her tailoring job on a part-time basis alongside teaching job she has been offered by the university, she would also continue to study.
She noted that NOUN’s mode of operation was really assisting working class and married adults who desire higher education. “I give it to the school as I don’t know how I would have achieved my dream without providing the opportunity,” she said.
Congratulating Okoye and her mates, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ado Tenebe said the university’s sole interest was to make Open and Distance Learning a viable model of delivering university education to qualified men and women in the country.
He tasked the fresh graduates to be good ambassadors of the institution and their respective families by safeguarding not only their integrity but also the integrity of the university.
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