This week, Tell! interviewed Ofure Ebhomielen, the best graduating student of Faculty of science (and possibly the entire University of Ibadan). In this interview, she shares her story on how she was able to graduate with a perfect CGPA and her ambitions for the future.
Most people already know who you are. Can you tell us 7 things no one else knows about you?
Oh my! Let me see. I think my close friends might know one or two of these, but here they are:
One, many people think I am a science whiz, a tech lady and an outright nerd (I mean, how else would one finish with a 7.0). The reality is, I’m more inclined towards the arts. I literally love the arts. Fine art was my best subject in secondary school and anything close to drawing, design or creative work fascinates me. In fact, I have gone to an interior design school, made enquiries to start painting classes, thought a lot about transitioning to a (User Interface) UI design role. I have mad interest in photography and video editing. I’ve thought of running around behind the scenes trying to ensure quality film production, of being a film maker, a DJ or even a movie director.
Two, I’m fearful of being out alone in the dark. I actually look back every two seconds if I’m walking alone at night and become panicky when someone is walking behind me. And if the place is really dark, I think I’d rather pee in my pants than walk through that path.
Three, I want to own/manage an auto repair shop.
Four, I think way too much. I’m aware that it is unhealthy and somewhat crippling, but I can’t help it.
Five, I once nursed the idea of dropping out of Computer Science to study Architecture because I believed I was going to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright
Six, I don’t have a best colour, best food, ‘best friend’, best song, best restaurant, best book, yadayada. I mean, out of all the goodies in this world, why would I single one out and give it special attention . Nah! We only live once and I just let openness and curiosity lead the way. I have lot of favourites though.
Seven: Is my best number.
Alot of people are quite aware of your academic milestones. How come you’re so smart?
To be honest, I don’t exactly consider myself to be so smart. I think I was able to map out a plan that worked for me.
What I can say is that I understood my kind of person and I knew that in order to maintain the CGPA I started with, I had to be completely immersed in each course I was taking and try to understand the course at a broad level before diving into the specifics. So I’d say that I had a special relationship with each course and we lived happily ever after. Well, that was until some of them fell into oblivion.
How were you able to balance your social life with your academic life and still come out unscathed?
All work and no play makes Ofu a dull girl. I mean, I couldn’t possibly do academics 24/7, that’s just a recipe for being a social disaster.
I’m more of an introverted person, so my idea of a social life was being able to take out time to reconnect with myself, take a walk, visit my friends, attend events or workshops and seminars, be a part of organizing committees, take up responsibilities in church, take online courses related to programming, geeking out on Medium, Quora and Flipboard articles, occasionally stepping out of school with friends, trying to listen to podcasts, etc. Basically anything beyond reading my books and going for classes.
There were times I had to just take a week-long break from studying and just do another thing that was not academic related (asides going to class though). At every point in my undergraduate years, I was engaged in two or three extracurricular. In as much as some could be time consuming, I think I had a pretty good strategy for balancing things out. There were times I was burned out and I just knew that it was time for a break. There were also times when I had to turn down responsibilities that were handed to me just because I didn’t quite see how I could fit such into my schedule. I’d rather not accept a position than take it and do a shoddy job at it because I am juggling three or four major tasks.
In a nutshell, I was able to identify that my acads was primary. When I perceived that other things were getting in the way, I had to calm down with others or increase time spent on academics
What has been the most exciting and most disappointing experiences you’ve had as an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan?
Here we go with ‘bests’. So you want me to pick a particular experience over all the others. I’ll try.
I would say that everytime I had to do something beyond myself, I found it exciting. When I had to volunteer to give a talk at a boot camp organized by my coursemate to teach kids how to code, I was thrilled, especially after seeing their enthusiasm. When I headed a cultural day planning event in church and got awesome feedback, I was happy. When I had to explain or tutor some of my coursemates on things that were not so clear and they understood afterwards, I was elevated. It delighted me when I had the opportunity to make someone feel good about themselves and I was able to.
As for disappointing experiences, the one that stands out the most is when I was robbed at knife-point in the night on my way to the hostel. I was even still trying to fight for myself and my property when his knife cut into my arm. It left a huge scar on my right arm. It was particularly disappointing because that dude could have been a student of UI and he has no better way of making money than frightening girls with a pocket knife.
Would you consider yourself a feminist?
I would not like to attach a label to my beliefs and practices, but I’m all for equality and the empowerment of both genders.
Some people believe you look a lot like Adichie. Is she your role model?
Ah! Chimamanda. I get a lot of people walking up to me or chatting me up and they are like “Omg… You look a lot like Chimamanda. Are you in any way related to her?“
I admire her a lot. One, because a close friend of mine is totally in awe of her, watches all her talks, reads all her books, follows her interviews, etc. I think she has a Chimamanda folder on her laptop. So yeah, the love for Chim became infectious, and well, I caught the ‘Chim flu‘.
I admire the way she is able to voice out her beliefs with close to zero worry about what the world thinks. I admire her bravery, her sense of humour and her efforts to empower the female gender.
Do you see the resemblance? pic.twitter.com/h7v75EI5KO
— Tell! (@tell_ng) May 11, 2019
Do you see the resemblance? pic.twitter.com/HgE6W1mr0e
— Tell! (@tell_ng) May 11, 2019
What are your 5 biggest sources of motivation?
Medium articles and TED talks. My friends who were doing exceptionally well in their respective fields. To all intents and purposes, I wanted to evaluate the theory of consistent hardwork = success. Daniel Nkemelu too, he graduated from our department with a 7.0 two years ago. Women in Nigeria and in the world at large who are exceedingly brilliant at what they do.
Do you have a special “reading” method you would like to share?
Like I said earlier, I created a relationship with all my courses and nurtured those relationships. There were some that needed more attention, and I gave them that, while there were others that I was able to roll with naturally.
What are your plans for after graduation?
First, I definitely have to get my Masters. I’ve started making plans for that.
Two, My curiousity-driven career begins. I’m on the lookout for frontend developer roles while trying to build my frontend skills too. Well, I said earlier that I liked designs, so frontend is more like design + programming.
Three, one of my plans is to work at an auto-repair shop (mechanic shop). I’ve always been fascinated at the dynamics of cars so I want to see how the individual parts work with one another. Another reason is that I don’t want to have to be clueless when my car has an issue or be stranded in the night if there is a minor breakdown. I’ll probably look for a place that I can learn on Saturdays
Four, other plans.
Any last remarks or some words of inspiration to people who look up to you?
Wow! There are a lot of things popping into my head at the moment.
Well, right now, I think the best thing anyone can do for themselves is to understand ‘You‘ and know how ‘You‘ operates. When you do that, you’d begin to understand what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ll begin to worry less about why things aren’t working the way you expect them to and focus on how you can tweak your responses to events in order to make things work in your favour. You’d begin to understand that you are unique and that is why you can’t be like the next person, and instead of getting jealous, you embrace yourself for the imperfect ‘You‘ that you are and try to work out how you can use your uniqueness to create a better environment. A friend once said that you can’t use someone’s schedule to plan your life.
Lastly, you’ll come to the realization that you are very much capable of being great in whatever path you’ve mapped out for yourself. Oh my! I think I just sounded like a Yogi Ji. But it’ll be worth it, trust me.
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What do you think?