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My ambition is fulfilled – ATBU best medical student

Dr Khadija Muhammad Garba emerged the overall best graduating student from among the pioneer medical students of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, who…

Dr Khadija Muhammad Garba emerged the overall best graduating student from among the pioneer medical students of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University (ATBU) Bauchi, who graduated recently. In this interview, she spoke on the secret behind her success and how she was able to emerge best student despite being married, among others. Excerpts

How do you feel being the overall best graduating student?

All I can say is Alhamdulillah, because the feeling was just overwhelming. I see my parents being very proud and moving with their heads held high, Alhamdulillah! I feel so blessed because graduating as the best student was not easy. 

So, how did you achieve this feat?

It was Allah’s doing because being the best graduating student doesn’t mean I am the best in my whole class and it doesn’t mean I am above all. A feat like this is a blessing from God Almighty and He bestows it to who He wishes. Alhamdulillah, I thanked Him for His blessings. 

I equally want to attribute the feat to the endless prayers of my parents, in addition to a very supportive husband that I had since I was in medical school when he was my fiancée and now my husband.

Also, I had a very strong reading team of three since I was in 200 level. That is the strongest team I’ve ever had and they’re the backbone of my success. Then years of dedication, hard work and sleepless nights but above all, prayers.

At what point did you discover that you were a potential first-class graduate?

Well, there was no first-class graduate in medical school. However, I saw that I could be best graduating student after our 500-level examination when I found out that I was best in courses we took during that time in paediatrics and O&G. Also, in my 400 level exams, I was the best in all the courses as well as in my pre-clinicals except for one, so from that, I saw it coming.

What was your reading culture like, and how did that help you achieve this feat?

I read mostly in the night and also after morning lectures or evening lectures or evening calls, especially when I come back from the hospital. I also read in the morning during weekends or holidays. I don’t read alone because I had a reading team of three; we mostly read in the night and during weekends or public holidays from morning to evening and that’s what helped me. 

We do group discussion, we share ideas and if I don’t understand, I ask and they make me understand better. They were my backbone apart from prayers.

Were there sacrifices you made to achieve the feat?

Some of the sacrifices made include not being in touch with certain family members and friends who at last felt that we abandoned them. Some felt that “she has changed just because she is studying medicine. She is now ignoring people and so on”. Meanwhile, I don’t stay in my hometown because of the nature of my studies, we don’t have much holidays and I rarely come home. I equally missed family gatherings and many friends were lost because of the process but they don’t know what you are going through and they don’t understand you, even if you explain. Also, I couldn’t enjoy my time like others because of the sleepiness nights.

What was the most challenging part of your course of study?

The most challenging part of my studies was mostly stress, and stress management was very difficult for me because sometimes I didn’t even know what I was doing. Another challenging part of my course of studies was the high expectations from my teachers, friends, colleagues and family of being the best. It was not easy.

Did you always aspire to be a medical doctor?

Yes, I have always wanted to be a doctor, from when I was in primary school. At that time, I don’t even understand who a doctor was but my father used to tell his colleagues that I was going to be a doctor. I remember some people calling me Doctor Khadija right from when I was in primary school. From then I developed the interest and passion to become a doctor, and Alhamdulillah, I am now a doctor.

How would you describe your best and worst moments in school?

My best moment in medical school was on that convocation day and the day that we were inducted into the Nigeria Medical and Dental Council because I was so happy that all the sleepiness nights, all the difficulties, all the challenges was worth it, I was very happy. I can’t pinpoint my worst moment but my 400 level exams were tough. At some point I was very nervous and didn’t even know what I was doing. I think exam moments are usually my worst moments but that 400 level was something else. I guess 400 level is the most difficult level in medical school and also the backbone of medicine itself.

How do you want to impact society now?

Well, I would want to reach out to my community in a large scale through community service like health talks, outreaches, health education to women and many more. I’m also nursing the ambition of having a foundation later in life; a foundation that would help women and young children because I am very much interested in that field.

How were you able to overcome distractions from the opposite sex and social media?

I never had two boyfriends at a time. If I don’t like you, I break off with you and that was before I married my husband. I don’t involve myself with boys.

I am not really a fan of social media and my only social media platforms are WhatsApp and Instagram. The Instagram account is even recent. I used to have a Facebook account but I lost interest. Basically, my best social media platform is WhatsApp.

What advice do you have for female students and youths generally?

I advice my younger colleagues, especially the female students to be prayerful and studious. Read like you never pray and pray like you never read. They should obey their parents and ask them to always for them. They should have good reading teams, and definitely, they will see wonders.

Also, one important thing I want to advise female students is to be wise in choosing a suitor. You can get married to that person while still in school. It will not stop you from achieving your dreams.

Marriage will not stop you from studying medicine or achieving your goals but that’s if you are with the right person. The key is to always pray for Allah to choose the right partner because in our class, we had four married women with children who all graduated. They delivered their babies while in medical school and that did not distract them from their studies.


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