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PhD journeys of a 71-year-old Grandma and an ‘okada rider’

A septuagenarian and a 37-year-old biologist were among the 148 students who graduated with the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) during the 51st convocation of the University of Lagos (UNILAG). KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE reports on their academic journey.

Seventy-one-year-old Felicia Marinze and Rasheed Olatunji Moruf were among the 148 students who got their PhD during last week’s convocation at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

While Dr. Marinze was a wonder for completing her PhD 10 years into her retirement from the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Moruf was celebrated for producing the best thesis for the Class of 2019.

As friends and well-wishers surrounded Dr. Marinze, dancing with joy after the event last Thursday, she spared time to share her nine-year journey to a PhD in French and what she planned to do with it.

The Nnewi-born educationist, who retired as a chief lecturer from YABATECH, said she did the PhD to exercise her brain in retirement.

“Before I even came in I took it as a retirement project. I retired from YABATECH as a chief lecturer so I needed to keep the brain working. So I have been taught that the brain can be extended to any level. But if you allow it to be dormant, it would die. Once it starts dying, the whole system will soon die. And I am not ready to die yet so I decided to really use the brain and put into practice what I have experienced all my years of teaching in order to bring out solutions to problems I encountered in the classroom,” she said.

Having had all her degrees in education, Mrs. Marinze said she decided to specialise in French. And to do so, she had to do a Masters and M.Phil before the PhD.

She said: “It took me nine years to get the PhD. I came in first, I did a masters. I have had all my degrees in education and I needed to enhance my French because it was Education, French, English I read in my first degree at the University of Ibadan. I came here read Curriculum studies at the Faculty of Education – core French. And I wanted to pursue this PhD not in education line but French. So I had to come over to the Faculty of Arts to take on Masters in French. After that I did MPhil and from MPhil to PhD and that took a period of nine years. “For Dr. Marinze, going to school at such age was no big deal and was sometimes fun. She said studied at the same time as some of her children, who also attended UNILAG and even joined them for lunch in their hostels, while at other times, her lecturers hosted her. She said her only challenge with her thesis was that she had to type the project herself in French.

“I wasn’t really stressed because I have good friends in the faculty. When I am tired they take me to their offices. You know, as Mama is concerned, I would relax. Some take me to amala joint to really enjoy myself,” she said.

She added: “My children finished. Sometimes I go to their hostels to eat. Everybody is a student,” she said.

However, despite her age, Marinze said her supervisors were tough and demanded she gave her best.

“My supervisors were tough, but they were parents that can slap you with one hand and use the other hand to draw you close. They know why I am here. They had seen that I wanted to succeed. So they would not play with me. But they were very good,” she said.

Now that she is done, Dr. Marinze said she plans to use her findings from her PhD to advance the study of French in Nigeria.

An author of six books already, she said she was working on a new book that would help teach French to English speakers.

She said: “Right now I am writing a book based on my findings that will enhance students to better their communication research. The title is going to be “French for English learners”, because our area here is Anglophone and we speak English. So this should enable them tackle French from English point of view.”

For 37-year-old Moruf, getting to the point of PhD was not an easy ride as he had to battle financial challenges along the way.

The Lagos born who lectures at the Bayero University Kano, said while giving his valedictorian speech at the Ade Ajayi Main Auditorium last Thursday that he had to sell honey and ride commercial motorcycle popularly called Okada to pay fees.

“My gratitude knows no bound as this award is very important for me Rasheed Olatunji Moruf – the man from not so privileged background from a ghetto, Ajegunle Apapa; who sold honey and rode okada to meet up with tuition fee and family upkeep; the man who squatted and hung around throughout his university education days from UI to University of Lagos because he could not afford accommodation fees,” he said.

Rasheed said he was inspired to excel because of his wife, who graduated sumna cum laude from the University of Ibadan, where he also had his first degree in Animal Science.

Dr. Adewale Adebero with his wife, Adetola,
•Dr. Adewale Adebero with his wife, Adetola, celebrate after he was awarded a PhD in Exercise Physiology during the 51st convocation of the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
“The driving force and real inspiration has been from my wife who received numerous prizes as a first class honour graduate from the University of Ibadan. Today, I make vow to reemphasise the saying that behind every successful man is a woman,” he said.

On how his thesis titled: “Biometrics, gut contents and sexual dimorphism of a Gastropod, Tympanotonus fuscatus var radula from mangrove swamps in Nigeria,” won him the best thesis award and the UNILAG alumni association prize of N250,000, among others, Rasheed said he fell in love with the subject of study and put in his best.

“When I came first to the University of Lagos, I fell in love with shellfish biology, a discipline in the department of marine biology. Little did I know I would be winning the lead Unilag Nobel award, I only resolved to get the most of everything I layed my hands on. In the words of … “I never do only … I worked for it,” he said.

From his thesis, Rasheed said he published 12 papers.

He said: “Within my three years full time PhD programme, the journey to my current prominence began with a perfect CGPA of 5.0 in course work, 12 published paper extracted from thesis winning the 2018 University of Lagos post graduate scholarship fund alongside two other colleagues. During this period, I was also recognised and given the UNILAG Muslim Alumni grant and Bayero University PhD fellowship where I work as an academic staff to complete my project.”

Source:The Nation Newspaper

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