A brilliant young man identified as Humphrey Ifezue, who graduated with first-class honors in Computer Science at Caleb University, Lagos State, talks about his academic journey and motivation in an interview.
What more can you tell us about yourself?
I am from Nawfia in the Njikoka Local Government Anambra State. I have two siblings, an elder brother, and a sister. I am 24 years old.
How does graduating with a first-class degree make you feel?
I feel very excited. I wasn’t expecting to be a first-class graduate; I intended to do my best and come out with a good result. Although I wanted a first-class degree I never chased it.
At what point did you hit first class?
I first hit the first class division in the first semester of my 100 level at school. I had a grade point average of 4.78 and that was what inspired me to do more.
What role did your foundation at the primary and secondary levels play in your success at the university?
I don’t think they really impacted my university. I was an average student in my secondary school. I was more in the 10th or 11th position in my class. I wouldn’t say my secondary school was what inspired me. I would say it was the dedication that I put into Computer Science because it is a course I love. It changed my story at the university.
How did your parents react when you informed them about your final result?
They were excited about it. I think they were very excited when I made my first 5.0 GPA. They encouraged me.
It was reported that a philanthropist and Chairman of Atlantic International Refinery and Petrochemical Ltd, Akintoye Akindele, gifted you and the two other best graduating students N5 million and automatic employment. How true is that?
That is very true. He gave the overall best female undergraduate, overall best postgraduate student, and me a cheque of N1.5million each. When he was offering the cheque, he also mentioned that there was automatic employment if we were interested. Two of us showed our interest and we were each offered an employment letter too.
What exactly came to your mind when he announced it?
I felt so excited; it felt like my prayers had been answered. I wasn’t present when he mentioned it. I came late to the convocation. It was after the programme that my friend – the overall best female graduate – informed me about it. At first, I wasn’t sure I was among them because I was the second-best, so I thought it was just for the overall best student. But I got confirmation from my vice-chancellor. I was excited because I have never received such an amount.
Have you received the money and employment letter?
Yes, the cheque has been cleared. Also, I received the employment letter as he promised. I was excited knowing well that the money will help with a lot of expenses with moving my plans forward.
What do you plan to do with the money?
I will use the money to go further in my education overseas in cyberspace. I plan on taking a professional cyber security course.
What were the things that attracted you to Computer Science?
As a little boy, I loved operating gadgets. I have always been fascinated by how individuals communicate with each other through a cell phone and the operations carrying out the transmission of our voices from one part of the world to another. I was curious about the field. I wanted to know more and how I can use it for my benefit. I will say my curiosity about the field attracted me.
I’ve been interested in computers since I was in elementary school. We entered an era when everything we used on the internet was based on trust and had a lot of access that should never have been allowed. So, with all of the evil people who began accessing the internet and causing havoc, I saw it as an area that needed more people to help stem the tide and stop people from doing bad things. I also wondered how communications worked and I was so curious to know.
What was the experience like in your first year?
My first semester was challenging. I was trying to figure out how to navigate the school and its rules. Making new friends was difficult because I was always indoors.
Do you share the view that many first-class graduates from private universities would not have graduated with that grade from public universities?
Well, I will agree in the sense that larger class sizes mean less individualised attention. But still, it depends on individuality. Attending a public university doesn’t mean one cannot come out with good grades. I agree that the educational system in public universities is poor, in the sense that the learning environment is not conducive, and the lecturers are unconcerned. A lot of distractions living off campus can be a factor. But, I still feel the result will be the same if the students are focused on what they want. So, I disagree with the saying.
What were your toughest moments at Caleb University?
I don’t think I had a particularly trying moment; every day was challenging, but it was an opportunity to build on my past achievements. There was a struggle of always waking up every day to meet up with classes, though it helped because I never missed a class.
What study method worked for you? Or did you spend hours at the library and study at night in a classroom?
I didn’t have a specific study method. I will say attending class was a study method because I always pay attention to lectures. I didn’t really visit the library; in fact, I will say I visited the library once. I don’t like using the library because it is too quiet for me. I’m fascinated by technology, and I do a lot of research on it for fun rather than for school. I believe that helped me a lot in classes because I already had an idea about most of the computer-related courses in school from my research. I also never missed a class. I benefitted from my lectures as well. I did the research for fun not to pass exams. I am not the reading type, I only read when I have exams. I try to cover up the course outline.
If there was anything that discouraged you or almost made you give up on your academic goal, what would that be?
Laziness in getting up early to get to class on time and attending classes. I dislike school. But even though I dislike school, it is necessary so I had to study but I never liked doing it.
Between hard work and flair, which will you say pays?
Hard work pays in all that we do because even when you have a flair for something and you don’t put in some effort, you can’t achieve anything.
Did your parents doubt the possibility that you would come out with first class, knowing that you did not like school?
No, they didn’t because when I was at 100 level at Caleb University, my first semester GP was 4.79. That was when they encouraged me and said they knew I was smart enough and that I could achieve it (first class).
Are you the only one with a first class in your family?
Yes, I am. My siblings graduated in the second-class upper division.
Have you started working in the company that offered you employment?
No, I have not started but very soon, I will. I am still working on the process. I wasn’t posted to Lagos for the National Youth Service Corps programme, so I am working on the process. I need to complete my relocation.
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