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People wonder how I was able to break 100 years record in India – Emelife Stella Amagbor

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Emelife Stella Chinelo Amagbor’s 100 years record-breaking educational feat went viral few weeks ago and alot of Nigerians wanted to know more about the woman who had made the motherland proud. The story was shared across social media and on some international platforms.The Anambra State born academia got a scholarship from of the university of Mysore, India and graduated in March 2019 with a GPA of 9.26, and was awarded 20 gold medals during her convocation, this feat made it the first time in over 100 years where any student will be honoured that way. Little did Stella know her story was going to make rounds in the media.The Intelligent young woman who also has a bachelor degree, (BSc Applied Chemistry) ,was also awarded the best graduating student of Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto in 2013/2014 academic session, graduating with CGPA of 4.86.Stella is inspired by her hunger for knowledge and a better life for herself, she shares her inspiring story in this interview. In her words; “My parents were not the richest but they did all they could at all times to give me and my siblings the best quality education”.

Growing up
I GREW up in Sokoto state though born in Zaria, Kaduna state. I am the first of the seven children of Sir and Lady Christoper Emelife. My parents were not the richest but they did all they could at all times to give me and my siblings the best quality education available. I attended Federal Government College Sokoto from primary level to secondary level and this was by no means the best school in Sokoto at the time. All through my studies, I was outstanding. I always made the best grades which earned me several awards and scholarship. I went on to do my bachelor’s degree in applied chemistry at Usmanu Dan fodiyo University Sokoto where I also graduated as the best graduating student in 2012/2013 academic session. It was never rosy. I had difficulties and challenges especially with gaining admisssion into university. I wanted to study medicine but did not get that course for reasons I am yet to lay my hands on but all I knew was that I had the results required. I spent three years battling with JAMB UTME and POSTUTME until I eventually changed to chemistry. So I would say, yes, my childhood or my background indeed prepared me for what I do now.

Why Chemistry?
For my bachelor degree in Applied chemistry, I will tell you that I only chose to apply for it at the time because, firstly chemistry was my favourite science subject apart from Mathematics in secondary school, I would say I had a good foundation in chemistry and then secondly, I needed to apply for a course that had less traffic. By less traffic I mean, a course that did not have too many applicants just like medicine which was what I wanted to study. However, in the course of my studies, I fell in love with chemistry and decided to proceed in this field for my postgraduate studies.

100 years record breaking viral story
Yes, my story went viral after the announcement of my awards in India. I got an Indian government scholarship in 2016 to go for a master degree course in chemistry. I accepted the offer and began my master’s degree programme at University of Mysore, the course went on till July/August 2018. I returned back to Nigeria and this year 2019, I was invited to attend my convocation ceremony where I will be officially awarded my MSc Chemistry degree and along with it, I was informed that I will be receiving numerous awards as a result of my outstanding performance in the university. The university is one of the oldest universities in India and highly reputable. I was informed that in the over 100 years history of the university, no one has ever made such grades and most of all a foreigner. I made a percentage of 92.6%. Hence, the best graduating student of the university of Mysore. I went down to India in March 2019, received these numerous awards (25 awards that included 20 gold medals and 5 cash prizes) and almost all media houses in India had the news in all languages including English and eventually, Nigerian bloggers got to know and then some Nigerian news houses.

Reception
Abroad which of course is India, every single person who has come across the news is totally amazed and wonder how I was able to break such record of such university as notable as University of Mysore. More so were those present at the convocation ceremony. Even the dignitaries could not help but express how amazed they are and how proud of me they are and have since been offering to assist me in any way they can through recommendations in case I decide to take up a PhD course in India. I granted countless number of interviews both offline and online. In fact, my name has been everywhere in India especially amongst the academicians and the foreign students association in all parts of India are so proud of me and my achievement. Now, at home, yes the reception has been good amongst people who got to know about it, especially on social media. My husband, my entire family and friends, my church, my alma mater have all been so amazed at such performance. The Chemical Society of Nigeria have been so excited about the news. I have also been granting a number of interviews here and there. I am praying that apart from everyone getting excited and sending in congratulatory messages, that I will attract the attention of the federal government to at least consider me for a well-paying job here in Nigeria.

My Inspiration
I am inspired by my hunger for knowledge and a better life for myself, my family and the society at large and I believe that getting to the peak of my career in life will bring me all the happiness I seek for since at that height, I can inspire others and be make all the impacts I yearn for in the society.

Who inspires me? Firstly my parents inspire me greatly. Their determination to give us the best they can pushes me to be more and also be a great parent like they are to me and then also, I am inspired by every woman that I come across who is doing all she can to break all the conventional laws or rules that hold women back and strife hard to achieve her goals irrespective of her gender or whatever. If you ask for who my role model is, then it is Late Prof. Dora Akunyili of blessed memory. I adore her and hope to do greater than she did by the help of God.

What next?
I need a good job in the academia as a lecturer in the university or as a quality control analyst or research and development personnel in any reputable chemical industry where I can put in all my knowledge to use, develop myself and also earn a good living to take care of myself, my family and those around me that need help. I am also looking forward to getting a very good PhD scholarship to start up my research career as soon as possible.On the long run, I have plans to work with NGOs in the education sector to be able to make my own mark in education in Nigeria.

Challenges
The greatest challenge I faced while studying in India was the cultural shock I faced. It was my first time leaving Nigeria and for the fact that it was a totally different continent made it so difficult for me at the very beginning. The food, the way of life, the language, the accent and intonations, the religion.

No one understood me when I spoke because they say they do not understand my accent. However, time changed everything. I became very used to everything that I ate virtually every food, began to speak with the Indian accent and I could understand a few of the native language hence I was able to at least communicate with the bus drivers et al. Another challenge I faced was the overwhelming academic activities and being the only foreigner in my class. I stayed in school morning till evening from Monday to Saturday, stood for at least 4 hours in the laboratory and had loads of assignments to submit within short notice and practical records to submit also. It was so intense and scary but eventually, by the Grace of God, I got used to it and made use of all facilities at my disposal, used my time judiciously and became friends with virtually all my classmates.

Giving up
In my first year if I had the financial capacity, I would have ran back to Nigeria because I was getting too overwhelmed with the work load. It was so intense and I thought, I could not just do this. I was afraid I may not survive it. Many times I will cry while in the class receiving lectures, other times in the lab I will be so lost and confused. I could no longer concentrate. However, I cried to my family most especially my husband who is a huge support system, and they all encouraged me with their kind words and prayers and eventually, I got used to everything and even did not want to go back to Nigeria, when it was time to. Hahahaha!!!

My Support System
I am happily married to Mr. John Oshiobode Amagbor who has been of tremendous support to me. We live in Warri, Delta state. Also, I am looking forward to collaborations with NGOs or bodies that propagate education in public schools especially at the basic and secondary level. I will appreciate getting connections to such agencies and organizations, I can do a volunteer work with them even when I get a paying job.

Being a woman of rubies
I believe I am a Woman of Rubies because I am very focused and zealous. I do not let my gender come in my way of achieving the greatest heights. I do not think because I am a woman in the midst of men, so I am a second class ‘citizen’. I always believe I am even better and at advantage because I am a woman. I hold my head high and raise my shadows while defending myself or any right course because I am a human first then a woman. I am fearless when discussing what I know, yet very humble to learn anything new from anyone irrespective of gender or race. I am an inspiration to my own family, my own society and soon the world. I represent womanhood everywhere I go to. Yes, I am that Woman of Rubies.

To women who want to study Chemistry
Any woman can be anything right she wants to be. There is no gain going about wearing the cap “I am a woman’ about like Mo Abudu will say. You are a human first then woman. Therefore, there is no limit to what you can achieve just like everyother man.

Chemistry is not easy, however it is by no means the most interesting physical science course and is highly interdisciplinary. Go for it, as far as you are serious minded.


In this article:
Emelife Stella Amagbor
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