On the 8th of February, the University of Ibadan, Faculty of Pharmacy inducted about 93 pharmacy students into the pharmacy profession. Out of these 93 students, Pharm. Cynthia Okafor displayed outright excellence, academically amidst her colleagues by emerging as the best graduating student with a whopping Cumulative Grade Point Average of 6.9 out of a maximum of 7.0. Follow us as she speaks to Campus news on how she achieved this great feat.
Tell us briefly about yourself
CYNTHIA: My name is Cynthia Okafor. I was born on the 1st of October, I think that is really special to me. I am a dedicated person. I’ll give anything to see things excellently done. I am a believer.
What propelled you to choose Pharmacy?
CYNTHIA: Late Dr Dora Akunyili motivated me to study Pharmacy, the past Director-General of NAFDAC and also a pharmacist. She made so much impact on Nigeria’s healthcare system, especially concerning the provison of quality, safe, affordable and effective medications. That is in line with my objectives. So it served as a motivation for me. Additionally, Dora Akunyili was married in my home town, Agulu, so I felt her impact more as a role model, as I was hearing the news of her great exploits firsthand.
What was school like for you?
CYNTHIA: It was an awesome learning experience, a very demanding one at that.
What is it like being the best graduating student in your faculty?
CYNTHIA: Oh it felt good, I’m so happy I was able to set a good example for many.
What did you do to be the best?
CYNTHIA: I sacrificed. I did things differently. I took my academics into God’s hands. I prayed, fasted, sowed my seeds, listened to messages on exams, and outreach messages and worked diligently in school.
Did you adopt a unique study partner while in pharmacy school?
CYNTHIA: I know that I’m not the night reader. I’m not the type to forfeit night sleep because I won’t be productive enough the following day. So I avoid TDB (till- daybreak) method of reading.
The best graduating student from the Faculty of pharmacy many years ago who is now a lecturer here (Dr Adebolagun) advised us on the very first day of school back in 200 level, to always start reading daily and early in the semester from the word go so that the course work doesn’t pile. So I adopted that, and that advice from the BGS in 1988 influenced this BGS in 2022.
If I am taught a topic on the 1st of January, it’s my utmost desire to read it, dissect it, start from the basics, enter the topic deeply, fully understand it in class, flesh up my understanding, later on, watch videos on that topic if I have to, check past questions if I have to, all before 15th of January. Because in pharmacy school, and I believe it’s like that for most other courses, things can get really choked up if you pile your work waiting till the last minute.
How did you balance your academic work with extracurricular activities?
CYNTHIA: I used personal timetables to plan my time such that one activity doesn’t suffer from the other
What was the reward like for your achievement?
CYNTHIA: I received many opportunities from individuals and organizations.
Did you envisage being the best in your class?
What is next after your first degree?
CYNTHIA: I’ll go for my internship.
What were your pre-university years like?
CYNTHIA: I’ll describe those years as very interesting years.
Are there innovations you envision in the pharmaceutical industry as you forge ahead with your studies, and what aspect of pharmacy do you plan to major in?
People often see brilliant people as one with little social life. Is this so? If not, what extracurricular activities did you engage in school?
CYNTHIA: Fun is very relative, depending on the mindset of an individual. I had fun in school. I went to church almost every day of the week. I was an active member of the literary and debating society, representing my faculty in several public speaking events.
What was your best and lowest moment while in school?
CYNTHIA: My best moment is definitely now that the stress is over. No low moments for me.
UI has been touted to be a stress-cooker, how did you handle stress?
CYNTHIA: By speaking to my pastors and friends who would encourage me with God’s word. This was usually a source of strength to me.
Nigerian schools have a lot of challenges, this is not to say they are all doom. What would you miss about UI?
CYNTHIA: I would miss the unnecessary pressure now that it is all over.
What would be your advice to students aiming to attain academic excellence?
CYNTHIA: Personally, I learnt academic excellence on this level of ease with the word of God. I was constantly listening to exam outreach messages. These are sermons preached by the senior pastor of The Standing Church, Pastor Dr Tara Akinkuade. He taught on academic excellence in a way I have never heard it before and that shifted the gear of my academic life. The messages are available on the telegram channel http://t.me/TheSupernaturalStudent
Working hard is so essential and cannot be excluded at all. But many have worked hard in the wrong direction and have come out badly. I believe that the Spirit of God helps us to learn and understand, and should be the pivot of the academic life of any student who wants to see exceptional results.
Did you at any point have to cope with pressure from the opposite sex?
CYNTHIA: Pressure? Lol, no, please.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
CYNTHIA: I see myself making tangible impacts in my field.