Twenty two-year-old Zainab Abdullahi is one of those listed at the recent combined convocation ceremony of the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto as having bagged First Class Honours. Zainab, who graduated with a CPGA of 4.81 in the 2017 /2018 Academic session, emerged as the university’s first female First Class graduate in Physics.
“It was just dedication and prayers. Since my UG1, I’ve worked hard towards graduating with First Class,” the brainy and hardworking Physics graduate remarks.
“I read to understand, not just to pass, so I do not like cramming,” she says, adding “anytime I had free period, I did not waste it. I read, if not in class, then in the library, or in group discussion.”
Zainab had always demonstrated impressive intelligence. She was overall best at the University Primary School where she did her basic education, and in her final year at the University Model Secondary School Sokoto, she was also overall best in NECO.
Though an indigene of Katsina State, Zainab was born and brought up in Sokoto State. It was not surprising that all stages of her formal education were within the university community because her father, Mallam Abdullahi Muhammad, is a lecturer at the institution.
The enthused young lady, whose initial desire was to study Medicine, said though she had all credits in the WAEC and NECO examinations, the problem was with the JAMB for the year 2014. “The highest in our school was 190 and I had 185 so I was not offered Medicine which I wanted to study.”
On why she settled for Physics, she says “My mentor advised me to go for the course I was offered, which was Adult Education, but I told him I did not like the course because I do not have interest in it.
“I told them I preferred they change it to Chemistry or any Science subject. I was then told there were three chances for me – Maths, Physics or Statistics. I chose physics because I was sure I could do it and I never had a problem with the subject in secondary school.”
Zainab said she did not try JAMB the following year to study the Medicine she desired because “I just felt if after all the prayer and hard work I could not get this course, maybe there was something God wanted to show me, so I just appreciated what He gave me.”
She recalled that in secondary school, Physics was her favourite among the science subjects. “I just didn’t realize that I could go for it in my higher studies; it was God that showed me the way.”
Zainab said despite pressure from many to discourage her from studying Physics, she was resolute.
When referred to as a genius, an unassuming Zainab says, “I am not a genius, maybe I am gifted from God. Geniuses do not read, but I do.”
Zainab, who lived off-campus as a student, said she never spared a minute while at the university, and ensured she did not miss lectures. She noted that if the lectures or materials were not comprehensive enough, she does her own research on such topics on the internet, consults her seniors and lecturers, or uses her textbooks to understand it better.
“If I want to cover a particular topic while in school, I made sure I did. Whenever I sat with my friends, it is just to read, I do not have time to gist.”
She expressed gratitude to her family for the support and enabling environment to concentrate on her studies.
The Physics graduate wants to go into teaching. “I want to remove fear in students about Physics, and I also want to contribute my quota towards imparting knowledge of Physics.”
“Physics is not difficult; from the lowest to the highest level, all you need is just to have the interest. The insinuation that Physics is difficult is wrong. Physics needs constant research,” she advised.
Zainab graduated in November 2018 and got married in January 2019 to a medical doctor, Dr Aminu Abdurrahman. She hopes to continue her education.