A Story Of My Academic Journey
An Excellent Beginning
“Our child is a genius!”
I beamed with pride. I was on top of the world, or so I thought. I just hadn’t met my match yet…
Growing up, I was very intelligent and this made people call me a ‘brainiac’. Right from kindergarten till my final year in secondary school, I was the youngest in my class. Despite being the youngest, I was still the best. In my neighborhood, I was the child that parents would tell their children to imitate because of how smart I was.
In my SS2, I took an exam that would enable me go straight to the university if I passed. Sadly, I got an F in chemistry, an E in physics and a D in mathematics. This made me reconsider becoming an Arts student. I had always wanted to do Arts but my parents felt I had a high IQ so I should be a science student. By now, it was too late to change so I tried to put in more effort.
I was really fortunate and passed my WAEC with C’s and B’s. But this wasn’t the case with my JAMB. I failed in both my first and second attempts. My dad got to hear about the A’ level program done in University of Uyo and I was offered admission to study pharmacy after applying and taking their exams. Now concerning my choice of course, Pharmacy, it was suggested to me by my dad since his friend’s son was doing it. Prior to that suggestion, I had never known about pharmacy as a course of study or that there was a difference between a chemist shop and a pharmaceutical outlet.
I resumed the A’ level program and being there made me realise that I wasn’t as intelligent as people made me feel. I started off sitting in front of the class but I got discouraged by the fact that I couldn’t understand what was being taught or give answers to the questions I was asked in the class. I became a back bencher as a result, coupled with the belief I had that, ‘it’s better you don’t try at all than to put in effort and not see results‘. People thought me to be unserious and I was okay with whatever mindset they had about me. I’d rather be unserious and failing than be ‘serious’ and failing.
When the time for my final exams [in the A’ level program] came, I fell seriously ill. I had to be taken to the exam hall and back home. I still don’t know how I passed but my scores were exactly what I needed to be admitted to study pharmacy in the University of Uyo. I mean, people who were much more intelligent than I was didn’t get in. It was indeed a miracle.
A Careless Student
I slipped into it; was I walking with my eyes closed? Here, I was sinking into the quicksand, no help in sight
Because I was admitted through the A’ level program, I was to begin from year two in the University of Uyo upon resumption. I continued to be very unserious with my academics. I either went late for classes or missed classes completely. Sometimes I would go to school in the morning with a serious hangover from the previous night’s party and drinking. I was expecting to fail as usual, so I never tried.
In my third year, the story didn’t change much. I even went on to contest for the post of ‘Director of Socials’ in my faculty. I thought, “Well, since I am not serious with my academics, let me engage in other activities asides it.” I knew I was going to fail my third year and have to repeat the year because I wasn’t writing my tests and exams well. But I didn’t care, or let me say I couldn’t help myself. I would go to the exam hall and suddenly just go blank (remember absolutely nothing), then end up submitting a blank sheet. I never cheated, either by bringing papers in or by asking people, not because I thought it was bad but because I had to protect ‘my pride.’
And so I slowly sunk into the quicksand of failures I had walked into. I was neck deep and didn’t see anyway I could possibly come out.
Just as my head was about to be buried in completely, a hand reached in…
…And Oh! Hope
At the end of year 3, I failed as I had predicted and had to repeat the class. I also lost the election I had contested. I tried committing suicide after this because I couldn’t bear the pain and shame but I was unsuccessful. To worsen it, during the holidays after that school year, I found out I was pregnant and had an abortion.
These turn of events gave me a serious wake up call. I began to ask myself questions like, “What are you doing with your life?“
So, I started to look for a church to attend. Before these things happened, I used to skip church for like 6 months, then I’ll go for some time and stop again. Then during exams, I never went to church, I’d claim that I was reading.
When I was told about God’s Lighthouse earlier by my friend, Esther, and how the church wasn’t complicated, I wasn’t really interested. But looking at my life and seeing how I was still alive despite all the things that happened, I decided to give church a try.
I came to God’s Lighthouse first on February 14th, 2018. I had a valentine’s party to attend that night, but I was in church. That was the first time such a thing had happened! What I really want to thank God for is that, I went through that year again, and had an amazing A in a pharmacy course! Even if it was just one and the rest were C’s, I was so glad. It gave me hope that I could actually be serious again.
Unlike the proverbial leopard who doesn’t change it’s spots, I took on new ones…
I started reading hard for exams… but I developed a habit of cheating by asking others for answers in the exam hall, all so I could pass. This was in spite of the numerous times we had been taught in church that cheating was bad! The reason I gave myself to doing so was the experience I had in secondary school, where, since I was the smartest, I would ignore people who asked me in the exam hall and they’d beat me up after the exams. So because of the repeat year, the idea that ‘your brain isn’t yours, you have to share with others‘ became the order of the day, especially if you’re my friend, you have to want me to succeed therefore, you must be of help.
I passed the repeat year and got into year 4.
I was out of the quicksand up to my chest level, I was coming out slowly but surely. Alas! the quicksand fought back and forced me deeper…
The Test of Obedience
Oh no you don’t, not this time! I was determined to fight back and push through. I wasn’t going to let go…
In year 4, the ‘almighty class‘ with 15 courses and exams everyday for 3 weeks, I was scared. In church, my Pastor taught us that it wasn’t right to ask questions in the exam hall because it was ‘stealing‘ (the answers weren’t yours!). I would hear brethren testify about how they obeyed and passed their exams. But I still wondered how they wanted me to pass the exams if I couldn’t ask anymore. The whole cheating dependence made me lose confidence in myself. I couldn’t answer questions in the class even when I knew the correct thing, just so I wouldn’t hear that I was wrong.
Finally, when my exams began, I made very serious effort not to cheat and guess what?! I had three A’s and just one resit in 1st semester! I was happy because people were having 3-4 resits and these were people that I looked up to. I came up with an idea of submitting early when I was done writing all I knew, so I would not be tempted to ask anyone. So having three A’s and just one resit was something to be grateful to God for.
Sadly, in second semester, I had four resits. I couldn’t understand because I was more faithful, sitting in the front seat in the exam hall when my friends sat at the back, not asking anybody, but submitting early. Well, I fell sometimes, and asked people because I didn’t want to fail and I wasn’t happy each time I did so at all. The four resits made me really scared. I had another chance to write them and if I passed all, I would go to year 5 but if I failed, I would repeat year 4. The thought of this wasn’t good because my mates were already done with school and planning their induction and doing projects. I asked God so many questions like, why didn’t He just let me fail and repeat at once instead of having four resits?
It was torture to write the resits again. I became angry when I found out that my friend [J.] was repeating year 4 because I felt that she was more faithful in both the things of God and her academics than I was. I was ready to fight God for her. I was angry on her behalf! So I decided that I would repeat the class with her, I wasn’t going to read or prepare.
My friend [J.] was one of the people that encouraged me to read even when I lost all hope. There was even this course that we were meant to pay a bribe to pass; it was the norm. I always thought that all the people who passed always paid money to the lecturer, but I realized that some of them are here in church so they obviously passed without paying. This gave me courage not to pay.
My colleagues here in the church helped me a lot too. They spurred me to read even when I had given up. I wrote the resit exams and I passed! All four of them! Before then, I decided that if I passed, I would finally have the courage to stand in front of the church and give my testimony which I did. This whole thing made me remember when someone told me in my second year, that he wasn’t sure I was going to finish Pharmacy School because I was very unserious. So, on his seeing me in year 5 now, he walked up to me and told me he was proud of me.
So with one final pull, holding on to the the Hand of God, I made it out of the quicksand to solid ground! And I’m happy about what I’ve become. I’m so grateful to God!
– Sis W.