Usman Bello Balarabe emerged as the best graduating student in the Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University Kano (BUK) with a First Class Honours degree in 2019 which earned him a scholarship for his master’s degree programme in India. He spoke on his experience and factors that pushed him to the lofty height.
Was studying Mass Communication your decision or were you persuaded to read it?
I have always wanted to study Mass Communication and become a journalist. Although, when I was a kid, I also picked interest in the Police Force having studied at Police Children School, Wudil, Kano. The morale and the uniform were always in my mind. However, while growing up I began to realise my potentialities in writing, confidence in speaking, presentation skills and curiosity as well as endurance to read any written piece of different disciplines; hence I developed a passion for journalism.
Having passed my WAEC and JAMB in 2014, I applied to study Mass Communication at BUK and I was admitted in the 2014/2015 academic session and graduated in 2019. Alhamdulillah, now I have two degrees in Mass Communication — a First Class Honours bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from BUK and a master’s degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from Mewar University, India.
In your first year at BUK, did you dream of graduating with a first-class degree?
Graduating with a first-class degree was a dream from the start, and since studying Mass Communication has always been my passion, I strived hard to see that I excelled in the academic environment. I can remember my first day in the department. I asked about the best student amongst our immediate senior colleagues and I was introduced to someone whose first-year CGPA was first class. I asked him for some advice and guidance on how to obtain and maintain that first class result.
He told me two things: to read books and make notes. Gladly, I was very young and I spent almost all my free time in the library reading books and taking notes.
And for that attachment to reading, some students started calling me names like ‘Karl Marx’ and ‘Professor’ amongst others. Lucky for me I have a supporting mother, an experienced and intellectually sound teacher, good mentorship coupled with hard work, dedication and prayers. After all the years I spent in the university, I emerged as the 2019 best graduating student with a First Class Honours degree.
What were the factors that pushed you to this height?
Understanding who I am, where I come from and what I want to always remain my motivational factors. I was four years old when my father died and therefore my siblings and I was raised by our loving and hardworking mother who is a primary school teacher. Thus, to actualize her dream and to ensure that I become a better and useful person to the society, which, having understood the apparent reality of Nigeria, I strived hard to achieve my goals; to change the status quo for positive and progressive social transformation.
Which aspect of Mass Communication interests you more and why?
Print and digital aspects of Mass Communication interest me the most because of my passion for writing and active engagement with digital and social media platforms. However, I still have an interest in every other aspect of journalism and I believe I should be able to partake in every aspect of it.
What is your most cherished moment on campus?
My most cherished moment on campus was the beginning of my success story and where my journalism career literally kicked started. It was the day I started my first lecture in the university in the course “Media English (1)” taught by Dr. Bala Muhammad, who’s my academic role model and whose mentorship and guidance made a positive impact on my life as a student and is still impacting on each of my intellectual steps.
During that first introductory lecture, I understood why everyone should be a journalist and why I must put effort into ensuring I excel in the academic environment. On that day, I was also able to screen out and form my best group of friends whose intellectual demonstrations and seriousness proved how passionate they were about Mass Communication. That was my most cherished moment.
What is your social life like?
I personally have no interest in so many social activities, even before I was in university. Unsurprisingly, during my undergraduate studies, I was never part of any student’s politics, sports, social excursions, social award nights and what have you. In fact, I was tagged as a “nerd” and therefore not invited to any of these social activities.
However, swimming has always been my hobby because I come from Wudil and the ability to swim is a ‘parameter’ to define whoever claims he is from the ancient city.
What next for Usman after NYSC?
I am waiting for any opportunity that comes in academia, journalism or any other aspect I can fit in. I have a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication which is part of the benefits of graduating with a First Class Honours Degree. I got a foreign scholarship to read for my Master’s Degree under the K.D.F Scholarship programme. The programme sponsored first-class graduates and indigenes of Kano State abroad in 2019.
I am now doing my one-year mandatory National Service (NYSC) and after completion, I will love to be employed anywhere that fits my qualifications and subsequently go for a PhD. However, securing a job is now the most important struggle; and prayer considering the reality of the country.
What advice do you have for students who are aspiring to attain the same academic feat as you did?
My advice for students is to understand and define who they are, where they come from and what they want to achieve. By doing that, they will be able to realise their strengths and potentialities as well as use their weaknesses to their advantage.
However, hard work, dedication, good mentorship and guidance are very important for every academic feat. And above all is a prayer for whoever that prays, peace, blessings and success will always be with him/her.
Soirce: Daily trust
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