Okoro Nzutechukwu Benjamin, who lost his father in 2010, in this interview, shared top secrets about his academic success. The 25-year-old Anambra graduate bagged first class in Pharmacy at Voronezh State University, Russia, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.65 making him the first Nigerian to achieve this feat in the history of the faculty. AROGBONLO ISRAEL reports.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Okoro Nzutechukwu Benjamin. I am from Ajalli, Orumba North Local Government Area, Anambra. I did my primary school education at both All Saints Primary School Onitsha (Primary 1-2) and Spring field primary school, Oyigbo PH (Primary 3-5). Afterwards, I got admission to do my secondary education at Pacesetters in Oyigbo and after a year I moved over to Federal Government College Nise, Anambra. I had to move after my father’s demise in 2010.
At FGC Nise, I remained one of the best students at the school. I became the deputy head boy in 2015 and graduated in 2016. I had 8As and 1B in WAEC. That was really impressive. I wrote JAMB that same year to study Medicine at UNIPORT, but I wasn’t able to beat the cut-off mark at that time. So I stayed at home for a year. I sat for JAMB the next year and passed the cut-off but never enrolled in the school.
In January 2017, I wrote the Federal Scholarship Board Exam and passed. That same year I was enrolled to study Pharmacy at Voronezh State University in Russia. I left Nigeria on 25th December 2017.
How do you feel about achieving this great feat at 25?
I feel great to have studied Pharmacy at Voronezh State University being one of the best in the country. Nigerians were mostly sent to study at Moscow, Kazan, or other cities but for the first time in a long time, I was sent there. In my 1st year, after passing my Botanical examination, the lecturer told me I was the first person in 10 years to ever get such a score. That was when I knew something big was coming (smiles).
The pharmaceutical faculty is a strict one. I studied all the subjects under Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Technology and Pharmaceutical Economics. This is a great achievement and I feel excited because a lot of hard work went into this, a lot of sleepless nights, and a lot of victories over struggles. I achieved this while studying in a foreign language.
What inspired the feat?
I have a lot of smart and intelligent friends around me. They always pushed me to read. And I must say, my mum’s prayers played a huge role. I thank God for her every day.
Were you in any relationship while in school?
Yea (sighs) I started dating in my final year. I was mostly focused all through my school years.
Do you think that would have affected your academic performance in any way?
Not at all. I’m dating a focused lady that understands the value of excellence.
What other extracurricular activities did you engage in while studying in Russia?
I was the president of the Association of Nigerian Scholarship Students in the Russian Federation. Currently, we have over 500 active students. This was a major highlight in my student years. I’m grateful to God for this opportunity I had.
What makes you unique?
I am always motivated and always focus on the future. Whatever is happening right now, I had already seen it years ago. And this makes me an inspiration to everyone around me.
What’s your next plan after graduation?
After my graduation, I just want to give back to my home country that sponsored me all these years. I want to improve our healthcare systems if given an opportunity.
How do you intend to achieve this?
During my school years, we conducted lots of research on drugs that I believe will play a significant role in our health system. I hope to replicate this in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.