Hope you are enjoying the series so far… Today, I have the pleasure of sharing the story of my Nigerian friend, Benedicta Uweru. I met her at the ONE Youth Summit in Brussels, Belgium back in October 2017, there and then we clicked and kept in touch since then. She is so full of life and an ambitious young lady who is doing lots in terms of youth and women empowerment. I do hope you enjoy her story.
What is your name and what university did you attend?
I am Benedicta Chukwuyem Uweru and I attended Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria.
What year did you graduate and what course did you offer?
I studied Pharmacy, graduated in 2016 and offered a total of 100 courses within my 5years study.
Briefly describe how your university life; any extracurricular activities you were involved, scholarships, awards/honors etc.
My University life was obviously a very busy one, having 100 courses to read, study, attend classes and pass weren’t easy to come by. I had more “religious” extracurricular activities of which I went from being Music Director of my Faculty’s (Faculty of Pharmacy) religious Fellowship to being first female President. All of this coupled with my full coursework wasn’t funny at all. But I’m glad I took those giant steps as they built me up into being able to multitask and delegate duties. I remember joining the political arm to serve as Public Relations Officer (PRO) because I wanted to know how things work in politics. I believe I did poorly at it, I mean I could have done better but none of those experiences were laid to waste.
I did apply for and got granted the Jim Ovia Scholarship formerly known as MUSTE and that was so exciting for me as I was paid 150,000NGN on an annual base till I graduated. I had enough money to purchase one or two things while supporting my parents with paying my school and accommodation fees. I attended student conventions outside my State, took training within the Universities all of which make me the person I am today and I’m so grateful for all of it.
Based on your experience in university, do you regret going to university or did you regret at a point? If so why?
I never regretted going to school, I guess the only time I had regrets was having to study such tough course in of all Nigerian Universities, Delta State University because we believed learning could be a little easier. I remember crying severally in my room after some exams or hectic class or overloads of assignments with near deadlines but I’m so glad I came out victorious.
Upon graduation, did you have any plans as to what your next move was? Could you please share?
Upon graduation, I knew I wanted something different but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted.
Based on the answer from the question above, did these plans materialize in the short term or even long term? If it did what was the process like? If not, what happened? Did you have any backup plans?
I had attended this conference held at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, it was supposed to be a religious gathering precisely the National Fellowship of Christian Pharmacy Students (NFCPS) of which I was First Female President in my school. This lecturer, Dr. Ubah spoke about the YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) Network and I was thrilled. He is a pharmacist so that got me the most. So I began to read up on my own, joined the network and started community projects in that light and that was the beginning of my journey into Civic Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship leading to my creating an NGO, Girls Health and Education Foundation (GHeF), November 2016. Of course, it wasn’t as easy as it sounds, I had to first look beyond my “over-protective” parents especially my dad to be able to start. Also, I worked to build trust with school heads in my community to release their students to come for my events and projects on their school uniforms since I wasn’t and still am not yet registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
In the case where you faced rejections especially in applying for jobs etc, what effect did it have on your person? Care to share any experiences if you had one?
Of course, I got rejected here and there especially during fundraising but I refused to give up, I gathered personal savings and meager donations from family and friends, concerned individuals and put up massive projects reaching out to thousands of community girls.
If you were to be that 18/19 year old going back to university, knowing what you know now (irrespective of how many years after university) what advice will you give yourself? Any advice to others?
If I were to go back to being the 17/18year old girl who got into University, knowing what I know now, I would have started earlier with community projects, I’d engage in more extracurricular activities especially those concerned with Social Entrepreneurship, I’d add more value to myself realizing that just passing examinations won’t solve societal problems or give one job satisfaction. I’d bear in mind that what I studied in school especially for a first degree doesn’t define who I am and what I can be!
With the current state of the job market, do you think in like 10 years time, universities will still have value? Especially with the rate at which many graduates end up being unemployed or young people prefer to start their businesses or train in apprenticeships?
I think the value of our school systems would be dependent on what we can offer to the next generation especially seeing that we are entering gradually into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence etc, anyone can acquire such knowledge without even being in the four walls of a University. Especially judging from the high rates of unemployment among supposed University graduates.
What do you do now in terms of work or any other thing you are involved, care to share your social media handles so people could connect with you?
I for one have been applying for internships which is a one year compulsory prerequisite for getting a permanent license to practice as a pharmacist in my country. I’ve written interviews upon interviews, rejected here and there but I’m still positive waiting for other interview results. This, however, hasn’t stopped my community projects but even inspires me and gives me the time to engage more.
Social Media Handles
Facebook: Benedicta Uweru
LinkedIn: Benedicta Uweru
Hope you enjoyed today’s feature…Stay tuned for more 🙂