Henry Ikenna Ozor and Joshua Ikenna Akuchi, are close friends with a common destiny and having the same middle name. After being classmates in secondary school, they were admitted into the Faculty of Engineering of the Nnamdi Azikwe University (UNIZIK) in Awka, the Anambra State capital, where they became roommates.
At the school’s 11th convocation last month, Henry and Joshua were the cynosure of all eyes as the best of graduating students.
Henry, from Iwollo in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, graduated with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.85 to become the best graduating student not only in the Department of Chemical Engineering, but also in the faculty.
Joshua, who hails from Ezza North Local Government in Ebonyi State, graduated with a CGPA of 4.66, emerging as the best graduating student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Their record-breaking academic journey started before their admission. Henry scored an aggregate of 332 in the 2011 United Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). After his admission, he represented the university in the maiden National Engineering Competition organised by Committee of Deans of Engineering and Technology (CODET). Joshua was the first runner-up; Henry the second.
Sharing their experiences and challenges with CAMPUSLIFE, the valedictorians said the feat would not have been possible if they had not won scholarships to complete their studies.
Henry said: “As an indigent student, I had a challenge of paying my fee. I remember I could not pay school fees and house rent when I was in 100-Level. I would have lost my admission, because I had no financial support. I searched for scholarship, and I wrote many examinations as possible. By the grace of God, I got scholarship from ABC Transport Company, Shell Petroleum Development Company and Chevron/Agbami Joint Venture. I was also encouraged and financially supported by Allied Energy. The money I got from these companies yearly helped me to pay my fees and buy books.”
Joshua said: “I squated in a friend’s hostel for about eight months when I was in 100-Level until I got money to pay my rent. Like Henry, I also applied and wrote many scholarship examinations. I was able to get Agbami Chevron/Agbami Joint Venture scholarship, which helped to pay my school fees.”
Their feats, the valedictorians said, got their parents excited. Henry said: “My parents were over excited, because of the challenges they experienced in getting me to the level I am today.”
Joshua continued: “My mum was overjoyed, though she expected it. She could not believe it when it was confirmed. My dad said he wanted to keep hearing the testimony of how I made it happen and each time he hears it, it is breaking news to him.”
Sharing the secret of their feat, Joshua said anybody’s success is dependent on the kind of company he keeps. “I have always had successful and hardworking people around me. So, I draw energy and motivation from them. I would say that God’s favour made it happen, but I enjoy reading in the night except at weekends,” he said.
Joshua continued: “Most of the time, I came back from night class around 5:30am to sleep before going for lectures. After lectures, I would return to my hostel to prepare for night reading. After sleeping for two to three hours, I would wake up to go for fellowship. From there, I would go for night reading till the following morning.”
Henry said commitment, consistency and discipline are the prices to pay for success. Anybody, he said, could be the best, if he shows discipline and commitment. “My daily routine is similar to Henry’s; only that I slept for more hours than I studied,” he said.
What is their sole desire? The valedictorians said they would be happy, if any of their junior colleagues in their respective departments could break their academic records. Achieving a CGPA of 4.85 would demand vigorous study. But, Henry believes his academic record could be broken if students set their priorities right.
He said: “The only thing that kills a mission is distraction. I will advise my junior colleagues to design a plan and timetable, because they cannot be reading at random and expect to have a well-structured result. They should try to summaries their lecture note and textbooks in their own understanding for better concentration, comprehension and retention.
“If, after reading, and one cannot clearly understand key concepts and highlights of a course, then it is a clear sign that such a person did not understand it or he may be cramming. I equally believe that everyone has its own way of achieving excellence. What is needed is self-discovery.”
Joshua said: “Academic excellence is achievable for students who wish to attain enviable feat and height in their studies. They must carefully choose their friends, dedicate quality time to studies and be ambitions. They must always make up for lost time. The Almighty God is the pillar of all wisdom and knowledge.”