Twenty-one year old Inyang Comfort, with a 4.96 CGPA in Computer Science, emerged as the overall best graduate of Babcock University in the 2015/2016 academic session. She tells TUNDE AJAJA what she did to be ahead of several others
What fond memories of your growing up do you have?
I have a lot of my memories. I remember my mum waking me and my sisters up early to go to school. I remember looking forward to holidays so that I wouldn’t have to go to school. I also remember being very mischievous. But I think the fondest childhood memories I have are those I had with the people I love. Memories of us laughing and playing in school, being on family trips or being in the neighbourhood.
What did you hope to become at those times?
As a child, I think I must have had nothing less than 10 different future ambitions. Once, I wanted to be a biology teacher. There was also a time I wanted to be a gymnast. Another time, I wanted to be an artist. But I think what I really wanted to do as a child was something that would allow me create things.
Would you say you have achieved that by studying Computer Science?
Yes, because there is a lot that can be created and achieved with a computer. I started working with computers at a very early age, including playing games with my sisters. My dad spent most of his time on computers. He also has a company where people are trained on developing computer skills. I developed an interest for programming during my teenage years, when my dad and my uncles sent me various website urls where I could learn and create simple computer programs. So, knowing the many things I could achieve with the aid of a computer, I chose the course when I obtained my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination form.
With your early exposure to computer, would it be right to say that made it easy for you to have a first class?
It wasn’t difficult having a first class. Apart from the early exposure, I had a lot of amazing people who encouraged and believed in me. I had also prayed and committed all my efforts to God. When I got to school, my goal was to graduate with a first class, not really with the intention of being the overall best, but we had a seminar in school in my first year and after listening to what the guest speaker said, I made up my mind to do my best and be the best. And interestingly, my first result in Babcock was a surprise even to me. What can I say? God is always faithful.
What was that first result?
I had 5.00 GPA in my very first semester and I think it is safe to say that I started leading my class then. That first year was one of my best years in Babcock. It was the year I had the most fun. I had very interesting roommates and met amazing people. I was part of a dance group and an art club called Sketch House because I went to a dance school once during 100L summer break. I love being involved in creative things. It was in my first year that I got to understand and build my own perspective of Babcock University. It was also in my first year that I decided what I wanted to achieve in Babcock.
To have a 4.96 CGPA, you must have had that 5.00 result a couple of times. What was it like?
I offered roughly 66 courses in Babcock. I had ‘A’ in all expect three courses in which I had B. So, in my very first semester, I had 5.00, but in second semester I had B in one of my courses. In 200L, I had 5.00 in the two semesters, while in 300L, I had B in first semester. Also in 400L, I had B in a course in my first semester. These were what gave birth to the 4.96 CGPA, and I remember that my lowest score was 72 because A starts from 80 per cent in our school. There were times I got discouraged and times I wasn’t sure about reaching my goal but it was at such times that I remembered that God was in control and I learnt to trust Him better.
How would you have felt if you didn’t have first class?
I would have been disappointed in myself, because that was my plan when I got to school.
Would you have felt the same way if you didn’t emerge as the overall best?
I wouldn’t have been unhappy, really, knowing that I gave it my best. It wasn’t until the beginning of the graduation week that I was certain that I had made it as the best graduating student. My success is as a result of God’s grace, faith, discipline and the love and encouragement of the amazing people around me.
Would you trace that excellent performance to your previous schools?
I have always had such results in my previous schools, but I wasn’t always the first academically, even though I was always among the first five each term. To the glory of God, I passed my Senior School Certificate Examinations in one sitting. I had prayed and studied as usual and God saw me through. I gained admission into three universities, one of which was Babcock University.
What were the two other schools and why did you choose Babcock?
I had offers from Covenant University and American University of Nigeria and I chose Computer Science in all of them. I chose Babcock because my dad preferred it. He knew someone who graduated from the school and he was quite impressed with the person’s performance, so he felt it would be better if I attended same school.
Did you miss the liberty available in public schools?
Not exactly. Yes, there is not much freedom in private institutions like we have in public schools, because we didn’t have the freedom to do whatever we wanted due to the rules, but it wasn’t so bad. We got used to it eventually.
Perhaps you missed cooking your food yourself being in a private school?
Cooking? No, I didn’t miss that. I cook, but it depends on the food.
Having developed interest in programming during your teenage years, what was it like when you got to school?
I looked forward to it and I enjoyed it. I loved programming most. I enjoyed using logic and writing codes to solve problems. It always gives me an opportunity to think and learn. Programming is fun once you understand the basics properly. It can be challenging and frustrating sometimes but it’s worth it in the end.
Some students use this knowledge to make money whilst in school. Did you make some money too?
No. People do that a lot but personally, I prefer showing people how to get it done. Writing program for someone makes the person lazy about knowing it and the person might not have a grasp of it. With that, you would have denied the person of the knowledge he or she could have about it and you would have made money from the person as well. I prefer to put people through and let them try it by themselves, so they can get it done next time.
When did you write your first program?
That was JSS3. I went for a training programme, where we were taught about web design and a little of graphics. That was when I wrote my first program and it was scripting. I like the satisfaction that I got from writing codes, and that convinced me that it’s a course I should read.
Many parts of Computer Science are now accessible at training centres, what are your thoughts about this?
It depends on reasons behind the person’s need to study Computer Science. To acquire computer related skills, one can go to other computer centres, but for the holistic knowledge, one must go to the university. Computer Science is a course that deals with the study of computer. It is the study of both hardware which is the physical part and software which are set of instructions that the computer follows. Studying Computer Science for four years has given me in – depth knowledge that I need as a computer scientist. I have also gained knowledge and opportunities as a student which may not have been available to me outside the university. I wanted to create something and being able to write a soft code that could solve problems. I was also interested in computer graphics. I believe I have achieved all those to an extent.
Tell us, what was your typical day like?
I drew a timetable each semester, so I didn’t have any definite time for studying. My goal was to read each course at least once weekly and I read in my room most times. I love my sleep. It was important for me to have at least six hours of sleep daily. I had my goals and priorities set and I tried as much as possible to follow them. I tried my best to study prior to exams so that during exams, I would only need to revise and for me, it was an honour to do the best I could in gratitude for all my parents had done for me. Overall, I’m a product of God’s grace and hard work.
Given the situation in Nigeria, are there some of our problems that the knowledge of Computer Science or programming could help us solve?
Yes, there are so many systems and processes in Nigeria that can be automated so that they can operate efficiently and effectively, especially when it has to do with information management. Some institutions still rely on hard copies for keeping records, but that system is harder to deal with because you have to keep opening files, when a click could run the search in no time. Its application cuts across.
Were you sociable?
Not very sociable, but I attended social gatherings. I could be extremely playful as well. I loved to play as much as I loved to read and I spent my leisure time with my friends playing or watching movies.
What kind of movies do you like?
I have preference for animations and I prefer movies to reading other books. I like a few authors, like Michelle Hammond.
What are your future (career) plans?
I want to be a skilled software developer and graphics designer.
Where would you like to work?
A software development or graphics design company.
What were the decisions that you took about your academics that helped you eventually?
I chose to trust God completely. I realised that in life, it is not always the strongest that wins the battle nor the fastest the race, but all who put their trust in God are radiant and their faces will never be covered in shame. This meant standing up for what was right even when people didn’t understand. Students should make the best use of the time and opportunities they have. They should believe in themselves and not be afraid to dream big. Above all, true success comes only from God.
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