Uyaietieno Okonnah is a recent graduate from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University where she obtained a first class degree in Accounting. She finished with an outstanding Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.71/5.00 among the top 81 first class students produced by the University during their 41st convocation ceremony.

In this exclusive interview, she shared with us the process it took to achieve such great feat, her undergraduate experience, thoughts on studying in Nigeria, and her plans for the future. She attributes her success to God, and expresses gratitude to him and the people who have inspired and mentored her in one aspect or the other.

All our dreams are possible, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

Congratulations on your achievement. How do you feel about this?

Thank you very much for having me here, it’s really an honor. Gratitude is all I feel right now. To God, Parents and Mentors. It’s relating to have been able to put certain principles to test and have them produce the results they are meant to.

Tell us more about the course you studied and your choice of University?

I accepted an offer of admission into Ahmadu Bello University to study Accounting and Finance in the fall of 2015. Growing up, I have always had a thing for numbers and arithmetical courses so it was no surprise I ended up in the Accounting department of ABU, Zaria.

Having been offered admission into two different universities in the same year for the same program, making a choice for Ahmadu Bello University as opposed to University of Calabar turned out to be a wise one. It was a tough decision at first but am grateful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit at the time.

What stood out for me in ABU was the fact that corruption and other irregularities associated with university education in Nigeria was almost nonexistent. The rich, diverse pool of students from literally all parts of the country and beyond also made the learning experience very insightful and entertaining.

How did you achieve such great feat? Was it something you had always envisioned for yourself or did it just happen? What was the process like?

Graduating with a first class was not so much as accomplishing a goal than it was about seeing a promise fulfilled.

I owe everything to God. I remember my very first Saturday in school. I had attended an FCS service that evening and it was during the course of the service that I heard God clearly ask me, “What do you want to graduate with?” and you obviously know what my response was. Lol. At this point, I knew absolutely nothing about how to go about achieving this but God held my hands all the way through.

Talking about the process would definitely take up a lot of your precious time but in summary, it took the grace of God. As opined in the greatest book in history, “But whatever I am now it is all because God poured out such kindness and grace upon me—and not without results…”

I was blessed to meet uncommon fathers, mentors, and friends. They taught me the principles of hardwork, discipline, focus, goal setting, and community. They all shaped me into the person I am today.

You look pretty young. How old are you?

Lol. Looks can be deceiving! I am 21 years old.

What part of Nigeria do you hail from? And what do you think about studying in Nigeria?

I am from Obot Akara in Akwa Ibom State.

Studying in Nigeria has its own perks and challenges but one thing I’ve grown to love is that it afforded me the privilege to taste the various selects of culture and ethnicity prevalent in the Nigerian society. But that’s as far as it goes.

Alvin Toffler once wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

It’s a known fact that most of the courses and curriculum plan in use in most Nigerian Universities are grossly obsolete. The best decision you can take is to take your learning out of the conventional lecture theaters and focus on other platforms that provide learning experience on the cutting edge of relevance. Youtube is the new university and your smartphone is the new classroom.

As cited in a Forbes article, “Adult education experts estimate that up to 40% of what tertiary students are learning will be obsolete a decade from now when they will be working in jobs that have yet to be created. Indeed, the top 10 most in-demand jobs today didn’t even exist 10 years ago. To say that we live in a changing world understates the speed of both the pace and the scope of ongoing change.”

The job description in the labour market out there is changing and so should the preparatory process.

What challenges did you encounter in school and how did you overcome them?

Looking back, the major challenge I faced was improper time management. Being involved with a lot of activities in church, social organizations such as Enactus and other commitments left little or no time for my academics. I had to sit down with myself and restrategize. One of the most efficient tools I learnt to use and even taught others to use, was the Vision Board. With this, I set my goals and priorities right and in perspective. I had my schedules staring at me in the face all day so it was easier to get what I wanted done at the right time.

What’s been your greatest motivation and inspiration?

My greatest motivation and inspiration has been the Holy Spirit. I literally gave up at certain points but He was always there to bring me back up to speed.

Who are your mentors?

My mentors include Apostle Joshua Selman, Pastor Ejimi Olufukeji, Elisha Mamman, Pastor Gbenga Oseke, and Unyime Anthony.

What are your future plans?

Giving back is an ingrained principle in me. I believe I have picked up some lessons along the way and I intend to reach back and help someone else even do better. I also intend to get a Masters Degree in Business Analytics.

What advice will you give to anyone out there looking to attain such feat?

My advice would be to trust God, get a mentor and give it your best shot. The goal is not to be better than someone else or fit perfectly into a stereotype, but to become the very best version of yourself. You’re not a copy but an authentic original.

Thank you for being here, Uyaietieno. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!


Thank you.