By: Uchenna Emelife

Jennifer Chinenye Emelife, a 2012/13 graduate of Literature in English, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto has graduated with Distinction in a Master of Arts degree in International Education and Development from the prestigious University of Sussex, UK.

Jennifer during her undergraduate years was a committed and dedicated student. Upon graduation, the Modern European Languages and Linguistics department of UDUS awarded her the Most Outstanding Student of the year.

The second class upper graduate of UDUS is also a 2019 Finalist, British Council ELTons Awards for Innovation in English Language Teaching and a 2019 alumna of the highly competitive Chevening scholarship, which got her through the Masters Degree.

While this story may seem beautiful as it actually is, Jennifer tells us that the journey isn’t as rosy.

“I had quite a tough time adjusting in my first semester,” she shares about studying in the UK. “First, because my first degree is in Literature and here I was, neck deep into social science and suddenly, I had to pay more attention to things I’d normally gloss over.” She added.

“My second challenge was learning to write ‘academically’. I’m a creative person who loves to express herself as she’d like to. However, studying for my Master’s meant learning to fit into a certain structure. Use words a certain way. I found all of these a bit constraining and hectic until I realised that I was trying too hard to get it right. There was so much to read, so much to critique and so, much to write.”

Jennifer was however determined to succeed and she continued to remind herself that she could do anything, so long as she put her mind to it. Determination wasn’t the only contributor to her success though, Jennifer’s deliberate studiousness was second to none.

Her words: “My first step towards excelling was to learn to finish every assignment and paper ahead of the deadline. This leaves me with enough time to receive feedback from my tutors and edit my work thoroughly. It also meant I didn’t have to deal with the anxiety of late submissions. I had a word count I must meet daily and articles that I must study.”

When asked her advice to younger people especially undergraduate students who would want to someday succeed as she has, Jennifer said that it’s important for every young person to develop a mindset that everything is possible and that their dreams are achievable.

She explained: “It’s easier to see the difficulty in situations than the possibilities. Being optimistic helps you work through every challenge, as a student, as a citizen of the world. You probably don’t like your current course of study or hate your school or your teachers, and that’s okay. What you really need to do is ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Is it possible that that degree could lead you to greater heights? Is there something else that you can do to grow your passion or abilities? It’s entirely up to you. Take your life into your hands and be persistent. The future might be bleak at the moment but soft skills like optimism and persistence will take you far. The sooner you begin to cultivate them, the better for you.”

“It’s really never too late to do anything or be anything. So don’t worry about the years that have gone by. The important question is: what are you doing now?” She concluded.

On her plans for the future, Jennifer said she can’t wait to get back to the classroom and also resume work on her teaching initiative, Teach For Change Nigeria—an educational initiative borne out of the need to address the problems of teaching Literature in Nigerian schools by providing a relevant and a well-structured curriculum for teaching Literature in Nigeria.

“I intend to do more work on my initiative – Teach for Change Nigeria. There are lots of curriculum materials to be written and workshops to be planned. I miss working with teachers and being in the classroom. I can’t wait to get back to those. There are other plans that will unfold themselves as time goes by but for now, SLEEP.”

Jennifer Chinenye Emelife joins the endless list of Danfodites who after their first degrees in UDUS go on to shine at other universities. A list that has other names like Emelife Stella Chinelo (now Amagbor Stella Chinelo) who is actually Jennifer’s sister and in 2019 broke a 100-year record in an Indian university as being the first foreigner to be awarded the best graduating student.

Congratulations to Jennifer! Danfodites are indeed silent achievers.

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