April 20, 2024

Unilagsun

Serving the university community

Anastacia Azuma: Surviving Setbacks and Strikes

By Esther Eiyegbeni, Mercy Nweke, Iseoluwa Onadipe, Fatimah Onabanjo and Tolani Oyekanmi

Anastacia Azuma, English BGS.

One, two, three…nine years.  

After three years, students in the English department lost hope of graduating with a first class. First, it wasn’t easy. Second, it was a wish that didn’t seem like it would ever come true. Until Anastasia Azuma finally ended the count by graduating with a 4.59 CGPA.

“You know when you study so much and your CGPA is stagnant? At some point, I wondered if first class was possible but again I thank God.” There were times she had a major breakdown. “During those times, I felt like if I didn’t graduate with a first-class, I might just die.”

An enthusiastic lover of African Literature, she was so happy when she realized she had to read lots of it at the University of Lagos. “Reading for school is different from reading for pleasure but reading is something I enjoy doing.” 

Her love affair with African Literature began in Primary 6 with the captivating storytelling of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus. It also remained one of her favourite books to date. 

Motivations 

Anastacia’s journey to academic achievement was not without its hurdles. 

The notion that a first-class degree was unattainable within the department initially discouraged her. However, her encounter with Dr Nurain Fola Alimi, a lecturer who believed in her, was a turning point. “Just one person believing in you can change a lot. Dr. Alimi was that one person for me and I thank God for him.” 

He had encouraged her to break the record and achieve greatness. She had been unsure, but his unwavering support had gingered her. He became her mentor, supervisor, and guiding light throughout her journey.

Azuma also recounted how her parents stood as support pillars, always believing in her abilities. Her aunt also provided her with a home during her stay at the university, which helped her during the challenging times. “I can’t take my family out of this. They were and still are a source of support to me. Even when my CGPA was not in first class, they would call me a first-class professor. Also talking about family, I like to talk about my Spiritual family in my fellowship, my pastors. They encouraged me at times. They were the core of my success and I am grateful for them.”

Challenges 

The 200 level proved to be the most challenging period for Anastacia. With her CGPA stagnating at 4.44, doubts crept in, and she found comfort in seeking guidance at the university’s counselling centre. 

“It was tough. Many times, I had to go to the UNILAG counselling centre because I started well with a first-class performance at 100 level. I thought it would continue that way, but 200 level wasn’t easy. I was overwhelmed by the courses and books I had to read. This is me telling everybody that your academics are not your entire life, and you can always reach out to somebody to talk to. During those times, I felt like if I didn’t graduate with a first-class, I might just die. The counselling centre really helped me.” 

The support she received there and her determination helped her overcome the obstacles she faced. She also drew inspiration from individuals who had overcome their challenges, such as Mr. Sam Abolaji, the best-graduating student of the last set, finishing with a second-class upper, with his responsibilities.

“I asked myself if Mr. Sam could do it with all his responsibilities, and then I told myself I could do it, even though he did not finish with a first class. I am not married. I don’t have children or responsibilities to cater to. I also reached out to the person who preceded me, the one who graduated with a first class before me, Mr. Kayode Ogungboni. He is a mentee of Dr. Alimi. Talking to him, he told me he didn’t start well but finished with a first class. I started better than him with a first-class CGPA, and he told me I could also do it. 

“God really helped me a lot to understand that I had to be excellent. I am a Christian, the Bible says, “The Lord has not given us the spirit of fear but the power of love and sound mind.” Before any test or exam, I remind myself that I have a sound mind to write as well as my lecturers will have me, to receive favour from them and do very well.” 

Their stories reminded her that she could also succeed despite her initial setbacks.

Extracurricular Activities 

Azuma is yet another first-class student who contradicts people’s opinion of scholars. She wasn’t the class-Library-hostel girl. “I was the editor-in-chief of the Shuttle Journal at 400 level, and I was the poetry editor at 200 level and 300 level.” 

She was also active in her faculty fellowship. “I’m not sure if it falls under extracurricular activities, but I was involved from 200 level to 400 level. I held positions there.” 

She wasn’t involved in romantic relationships because she had a different idea concerning it. However, she had close friends she went out with. 

Misconceptions 

She also debunked the misconceptions surrounding the department. 

“There was no point in my cumulative of six years in UNILAG where a lecturer called me or told me that I wouldn’t graduate with a first class. There was no point in which my result was withheld in a way to stall my success. I believe the lecturers of the department of English are humans and have empathy, they are not the demons people portrayed them to be and if you do well, you will get what you deserve.” 

Reflecting on her academic achievements, Anastacia recalled a moment during her third year when she got a perfect 5.0 GPA in the first semester. Despite the assumption that the accomplishment was impossible in that department, she received no negative comments or threats from anyone who wanted to alter her grades. 

Anastacia stressed that one person’s opinion should not be used to judge an entire faculty. She also encouraged students to strive for excellence. 

Future Plans 

“NYSC. I will be going for that next year.” 

Still, her dreams were far beyond that. “I want to become a professor, and that would need me going for my Masters and PhD. I don’t have concrete plans for that right now, to be honest, processing of visa, seeking scholarships to leave the country, and all of that, not right now but they are things I plan to do. I would like to become a professor of African literature and come back to give back to my society and talk about African Literature.” 

She recognises that her goal will require patience, so she plans to take one step at a time. 

About Author