Miss Ojo Halleluyah Ebunoluwa, 20, who studied Mathematics at the University of Ibadan shares her experience with Vanguard Learning of how she graduated with the help of a scholarship when all hope was lost because her parents are retired civil servants. Excerpts:
By Tare Youdeowei
What course did you study?
I studied Mathematics at the University of Ibadan, in Oyo State.
Tell us about your family?
My parents are both retired civil servants – principal and a teacher. It’s just a normal family. We are five children and I am the last born.
How do you feel now that you are a graduate at 20 ?
I feel great being a graduate at such a tender age. And I feel that I can still achieve a lot more.
How long were you on the MTN scholarship scheme?
I have been on the scheme for two years. I got it in 2010. At that time, I was in my 300 Level, first semester.
How did you hear about the programme?
I first heard from my friends. They were saying that a scholarship was out, and upon further enquiry, I was told it was being offered to science students by the MTN Foundation. I later got the confirmation on my phone – when you checked your balance you would see ‘register for MTN scholarship.’ So I decided to register for it.
Did your friends get it too?
One of my friends got the scholarship.
How has the scholarship affected your life?
The scholarship has really done a lot for me. When I came into the school, I was naive. I came in with a secondary school mind and so I didn’t really read in my 100 Level. My first year result was just 4.6 out of 7.0 GPA, which we use in UI; 4.6 is where 21 starts from; 4.6 – 5.9 is a second class upper percentile. The MTN scholarship requires a 2.1 and so I just registered with that low 21. To my surprise, I was called to come and write the test. I was really surprised. I was like this must be God in action.
After I wrote the test, I waited in anticipation for a call or a message telling me I had made the shortlist. As God would have it, I got the message that I had been selected for the MTN scholarship. I was over excited. I was so happy – just jumping up and down. I felt that it would really do a lot for me.
I had so many needs which I had written down but my parents just kept telling me to hold on till they can afford to attend to my academic needs. So I just called my parents. My mum screamed. My parents did not believe that the scholarship was for real.
They had thought that perhaps it was offered to people with connections in MTN. So when I told my mum, she was excited and kept asking if the MTN scholarship was real? It made them believe that there is still something good in Nigeria, and that good things can happen to even the lowly in Nigeria.
So my parents were very happy that God had helped them and settled everything that had to do with my education. For the first time in my life, I was able to own a laptop. I bought a laptop for my studies and I was also able to meet all my needs. I was even able to give some of my friends that needed money to do some things.
It really helped me in a lot of ways. I am now more confident about myself that I can actually set out to do something and achieve it. Before now, I was really diffident. You know, I was the type that would say, ‘let me just stay in one corner.’
But when I got the scholarship, I became more confident. Then of course, I began to do very well in my academics, because I no longer had to worry about money issues. With peace of mind and focus, knowing that there was something in the bank, I was able to realise my potential.
Looking at the infrastructure and facilities in our tertiary institutions, how would you describe science and technology education in Nigeria?
I think we are still growing. We will get there. In Nigeria, we have intellectuals – people who can think and get things done. But the biggest challenge in the country is corruption. Even when a student is ready to study, when a student is ready to develop things, there are no facilities to help them and where there are, they are not functional. This is because they are not maintained. Corruption is really weighing things down.
I believe that Nigeria can get there in terms of science and technology. We can move much faster if corruption can be reduced, and the change has to start with everyone, not just the leaders. We have to determine in our hearts that we will contribute our quota – like when you see everybody doing something wrong, you can decide on your own to stand out.
Everyone is after the money and is not mindful of the means by which they get the money. So if we can decide to get the best out of Nigeria, the country would develop faster and become one of the best in science and technology because we have the brains.
Now that you are out of school, what do you plan to achieve?
Right now, I want to further my education, that’s the first thing. Because when you look at the Nigerian system, the B.Sc alone is not enough. I plan to do my master’s in Financial Mathematics (FM). I did my project along this line which gave me insight into the financial world. Mathematics has a way of making things simpler.
So, if we have FM in any company, their work becomes easier and simpler. Things which would take days to work out, using models from FM, you get them easily. So once I am done with my NYSC, I will start my master’s degree in Financial Mathematics. After my master’s degree, I want to get a job. It must be a very good job.
Even if I don’t get it, my kind of person is very innovative; anywhere I am I try to make money. If you leave me here for five days, I will try to make money. I mean, I can’t just stay stagnant. I decorate; I make cake and so many things. As I look for a job in the financial sector, I will try to find my way around to make money. Later I intend to have my own company.
Any word for MTN?
I really appreciate MTN. I want to say a big thank you to them. This is because they really helped my life; they have built me. Now, I know that there is something good that can come out of me. I can depend on me. I now have the confidence because the scholarship made me do well in my academics, and that is a solid foundation to do well in the outside world. This has given me an edge. MTNF didn’t just touch me; they touched my family and my future- My family and everyone is saying thank you to MTN. (Vanguard)