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I didn’t have money to register for a semester — Riwo, NOUN best best-graduating student

Mrs Aruoriwo Inegbedion, aka Riwo, a mother of three, emerged the overall best graduating student of the National Open University (NOUN) in Mass Communication. In…

Mrs Aruoriwo Inegbedion, aka Riwo, a mother of three, emerged the overall best graduating student of the National Open University (NOUN) in Mass Communication. In this interview, she speaks about her academic journey and challenges before her feat.

 

Tell us briefly about yourself?

I am Isoko by tribe from Delta State and the seventh child of eight children. I lost my beloved father in November 2019. My mother, Mrs. Margaret Ududua, has been the one championing the family since then. My father was a teacher and disciplinarian and I guess that helped to shape who I am today.

Growing up, I was the baby girl of the family and I guess I still am at my age.  I celebrated my 40th birthday on November 1st 2023. I am married to one of the rarest, loving and patient humans on earth in the person of Mr Festus Inegbedion. We have been together for 13 years and we are blessed with three talented children aged 12, 9 and 6 respectively.

How do you feel emerging as the overall best graduating student, out of over 15,000?

There are really no words to explain the feeling. I am just too happy. The days leading to the convocation have been a rollercoaster because when I got the call from the university management, I believe I froze for some seconds. ‘Are you for real?’ Then I had to put together a speech. I was just so anxious and excited at the same time. Then the fact that I had to be in Abuja brought another bout of excitement as I’d not been there before. So, I am glad, excited, and thankful, and I feel special all together.

How was it possible that you achieved the feat despite being a mother of three with a husband through your schooling period?

I have a very good support system. My husband is number one. He understands that his wife is a student and needs to study. As long as I carry out my responsibilities as a wife and mother, he is okay. He always wants the best for me. As for my children, they know mummy is a student and she needs her time alone sometimes. I ensure I use my time well: 24 hours lost can never be regained. So, I made sure I planned and followed through with the plan.

What was your reading pattern like? 

I am a very proactive person in nature. I plan before it happens. Being a student of NOUN is no child’s play. You must study and study very hard if you want to succeed. Therefore, I had to create personal study schedules at the commencement of every semester. I make sure I study the respective textbooks from page one to the end. As I study, I make good and informative notes. When I finish with the textbooks, I focus my attention on the notes I have made. I study them back to back until they are part of me.

During exams, I am always relaxed because I have prepared myself. If you wait till the examination before you study the texts, you will not do well because the textbooks are always voluminous, so you have to make hay while the sun shines. In addition, I love knowledge. Where I think I am lost, I consult with people that can guide me. I remember I took two law courses as electives. I had to consult with two lawyers for more insights to the extent they felt I was studying law. I just did not want to fail.

Why did you choose to attend NOUN?

NOUN is an institution with diverse opportunities. You are not pressured to do anything you don’t want to do. You are entitled to your time. The most important thing is that you use that time well. At a point, I couldn’t register for a semester because of lack of funds. I was not bothered because I knew NOUN had given me the flexibility I needed to study at my pace.

Another reason I chose NOUN is because it is an institution that covers the entire 36 states and there is at least a study centre close to you. The proximity of my centre also motivated me to choose NOUN. Their academic resources are well-researched and you can easily understand the materials if you are open to learning.

What are the challenges you encountered?

The challenges were enormous. For starters, finance was an issue because in NOUN you register and pay school fees for each semester. Secondly. I had to go for exams in bad weather conditions and the trips to and fro my study centre were by God’s grace. Also, I had to study some of my course materials on my computer as the hard copies were not available. This particular aspect was quite challenging because it is not easy to study a whole textbook on a computer screen but I was determined to succeed.

As for family responsibilities, there were times I couldn’t meet up with my study schedule. As a result, I had to create another time to study so I don’t miss out on anything. Here we are today. I’m just grateful it turned out beautifully.

What did you do differently that earned you the laurel?

I am a goal-getter. Once I start anything, be it a house chore, a novel or any task, I ensure I finish it. I believe it is this side of me that helped me earn this feat. In my book of principles, there is no failure, it is success all the way. I tell myself this every day. Then I put it into practice by studying. Also, I don’t joke with prayers. I tell God to give me understanding as I study and this has always worked for me.

What is next for you?

Riwo, as I am fondly known by many, is just open to more challenges academically. I intend to explore the world of academics, grow in it and impart knowledge. I love to teach so I see myself doing more of that. Learning never stops unless the person is no more.

What is your advice to others who would like to achieve your kind of feat?

Anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Start with baby steps and be open to growth. That degree you think is not important will speak up for you someday, somehow. Ignore the discouraging voices. Be determined and you will go far. School is not as expensive as ignorance. Get knowledge and you have conquered darkness. Nothing good comes easy. If you must excel, see challenges as your ladder to success.

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