They have never met,but they share some things in common. Apart from studying the same course in schools that are miles apart, Mrs Janefrances Okafo-Ofomata and Miss Chinasa Ofondu are women of excellence. They surmounted life challenges with sheer willpower to achieve distinction in pharmacy.
With a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.90, Chinasa became the Overall Best Graduating Student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) – a feat, she said, was propelled by her father’s death. She was also the best in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
In a class of 76 students, Mrs Okafo-Ofomata, a young mother of one, was the Overall Best Graduating Student of the 2016/2017 graduating set of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) in Awka, Anambra State.
Chinasa, who hails from Ozubulu in Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra State, said her father’s death almost terminated her academic career, but added that she never despaired despite the challenges she faced during the period.
Chinasa said the death of her father encouraged her to strive towards achieving life goals.
She said: “The death of my father came as a rude shock to us and I had thought that would be the end of my education. But, rather than being discouraged, it served as a source of motivation for me while I struggled to go to school.”
Chinasa’s strength of mind to get education earned her a scholarship from the late Bishop Eke Obiefule and Valerian Okeke, who were astonished by her brilliance and determination.
After graduating with a First Class in pharmacy, Chinasa said: “I was not the one who read the most in the class. A good number of colleagues read far more than I did, but I read smartly. I knew exactly what to read in all the courses.
“I aimed to be the best graduating student in my faculty, but being the best in the whole school was what kept me awake at night. Achieving this feat is like an icing on a cake. This is evidence that God never abandons his children.”
Chinasa said she did not expect to be the school’s valedictorian, having engaged in extra curricula activities. She was a strong member of the National Fellowship of Christian Pharmacy Students, in which she served as Vice President, Music Director and Academic Director at different times.
She said: “In the midst of my academic and extracurricular demands, I devised a formula which is rooted in hard work, smartness and fervent prayer.”
Chinasa expressed gratitude to the late Bishop Obiefule and Okeke, saying: “The scholarship they gave me laid the foundation for my academic excellence and future.”
Sharing her story with CAMPUSLIFE, Mrs Okafo-Ofomata, who graduated with a CGPA of 4.72, described her academic journey as one “riddled with sleepless nights, disappointments, struggles, failures and pains”.
She said: “I didn’t always keep to my study timetable, because we always had tight class activities. But, whenever I read, I assimilated faster. This worked well for me.”
Mrs Okafo-Ofomata explained that she had always wanted to study pharmacy, but she was disappointed when she was offered admission for Pure and Industrial Chemistry at the UNN. After graduating with a Second Class (Upper Division) in Pure and Industrial Chemistry, she sat for another Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and applied to study pharmacy at the UNIZIK. After two attempts, she was admitted for pharmacy in 2013 through Direct Entry.
Mrs Okafo-Ofomata got married to Mr Franklin Ofomata, as a student, and had her baby in 2016. She described this period of her life as “scary”, saying she juggled between taking care of her family and attending to demands of academics.
At UNIZIK, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences runs a strict system which requires a high level of concentration from students.
Despite all odds, Mrs Okafo-Ofomata studied hard to become the best in the faculty. At the induction held for graduating pharmacy students, Mrs Okafo-Ofomata went home with 10 awards and a cash prize of N500,000.
Appreciating her lecturers for the knowledge imparted on her, she said: “We take pride in knowing that we have a set of intelligent, dedicated, updated and hardworking lecturers who have given us the confidence to touch the lives of others. We have been taught to act true to our calling in saving lives and not take them. These values inculcated in us would open doors for greater achievements in the future.”
Congratulating the inductees earlier, the UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor (VC), Prof Joseph Ahaneku, represented by his deputy for Academics, Prof Charles Esimone, reminded the graduands of the need to guide their professional practice by the oath they took.
He urged them to always remember the school’s values of discipline, self-reliance and excellence. He said the university would continue to encourage staff and students of the faculty by providing the infrastructure needed to facilitate teaching and learning, including classrooms, laboratories and hostels, among others.
Administering the oath on the graduands, Registrar of Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) Mr N.A.E Mohammed urged them to be acquainted with the code of ethics which prescribed the professional and moral responsibilities to patients, colleagues and the public.
He urged the graduands to maintain strict compliance to the ethics, noting that a stringent penalty awaited anyone who engaged in unprofessional practice.
UNIZIK’s Acting Dean of Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences Prof Ikemefuna Uzochukwu said the university has contributed 431 pharmacists to the profession since inception in 2006. He disclosed that the school was working hard towards implementing the PharmD programme which had been approved for implementation in all universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC), beginning from the 2019/2020 academic session. The Sun