EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH BEST GRADUATING STUDENT, UNN PSYCHOLOGY DEPARTMENT, IFUNANYA MBANEFO
In a quest to get admission to studying psychology, she met with difficulties, so much that her admission was almost denied her. Today, she has merged the best graduating in her class and shares her experience, challenges and success secrets with JOSEPH DINWOKE of BROJID.COM. As a bonus Ifunanya Mbanefo explains how to handle wired roommates and talked about the men in her life. Please enjoy the conversation….
Good evening, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Ifunanya Mbanefo, a graduate of Psychology university of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Was your admission into psychology by accident or a choice? I have always loved psychology even before I knew the course called psychology. I like studying behavior and that was one of those things I did in my secondary school which I enjoyed. I love psychology and I’m glad today that I’m a graduate of psychology. It was very deliberate.
When you came into school in your first year, what were the challenges you faced as a fresher? I remember the first day I was in class. It was a physics class and a guy was answering almost all the questions, not just that he was good, he was trying to prove a point to us. You see people from different background and you are wondering whether your secondary school was good or not (laughs). I think the challenge I saw many people face is that they don’t really know where they belong. You know everybody is a fresher and nobody knows who is who. You see some people trying to prove a point probably with money, clothes and phones. I saw many people falling for that – trying to belong to one clique. But God helped me. I had the best of friend then; friends who don’t look at all those but have their primary focus. By God’s grace, after the first semester result were out, everybody field into their class. Another challenge was working with people you meet – roommates. You enter a room and you are like, “God why did I get into this set of weird human beings?” Actually, even if I don’t ask the question, people ask me, “Ifunanya, it seems that because you are in psychology, God allows you to meet these set of people. It was tough at some point but I thank God that finally I really coped with them. Even most of them end up saying, “I think I had good roommate; I know my character has not been so well but thank God she was able to tolerate me.” In almost all the rooms I stayed, the same experience persisted except in my final year.
What were your secrets of handling weird roommates?
I learnt to tolerate so much. I had good friends that also taught me that. I can proudly tell you that the Bible helped me. Just understand that everybody can’t be you and everybody has not understood what you did and they have to learn. At first, you tolerate them, pray for them and sometimes you wave things off. Just see it as the person doesn’t know what she’s doing. I have friends around me that when you try to complain, they tell you that your right have to be denied you and you look at yourself and you know that you are not standing alone and so calm down.
Are you saying you never fought as it’s characteristic of ladies?
Fighting? I have never thought of fighting in this world; not just in the university.
So, nobody has collected your weavon without telling you…
Nobody please winks
When you were in school, were you always into book things all the time?
Book things? What do you mean by book things?
Always reading, from library to class, class to library and that cycle…. (Cuts in) I had social life please! One of the things I don’t like was seeing people who graduated with very good grades tell me that they didn’t have social life. I hated it. Personally, I hated it.
I believe everybody should have a balanced life but finally when you look closely you find out that those weren’t actually bookworms. They have friends that they chat with. I read, I believe that my purpose of being in the university is to study not just read. So, I studied; I gave it my primary attention. I had friends around me that made sure that I did and they did that with me. I go to fellowship.
Social life is beyond going to fellowship or church where you go to clap… (Cuts in) I didn’t mean going to fellowship as in church. I had friends I charted with and we talk about things.
In the UNN last convocation, you were announced as the best graduating student in the psychology department. How did you feel about it? I was not elated when I found out that I was the Best Graduating Student. I have always believed that I’m the best whether UNN recognizes it or not. So, if it happened that I wasn’t, I just believed that I’m the best. I loved psychology so much that I just believed that I will be good in psychology, so, I don’t see the reason I shouldn’t be good in psychology. What really made me happy was not that I was the Best Graduating student as recognized by the UNN. It was because most of my friends called me, without even knowing that the result was out and I am the best, they believed that I was the best because of the way I love psychology and took my studies seriously. Some people believed in me so much that even if UNN did not say that they know I’m the best.
What do you think were the steps you took that ensured you merged the best graduating student in your class?
I think I like what you said, “What I think.” Now, what I think is this, I love psychology and I was sure I wouldn’t just be any other thing than being a psychologist. I love it so much that people would tell me that I made psychology look like the best course to study in the university. I knew there were hurdles but right from the beginning, I had made up my mind that I was going to scale through those hurdles. I read my books like what I really want; like what I really want to know. I didn’t just read my books to pass exams. Yet there are some lecturers that insist on getting answers the way they gave it to you in the note.
Most times, I have challenges in those ones because I’m not the cramming type. I just have to understand and write it the way I understood. Though what has always helped me is that I try to know it my own way then try to give it to them the way they gave it. One of the things I did was that I came back to school whenever school resumes and I read. Then there are no lectures and I read my textbooks and other books and people looked at me like, “Hey, what are you doing in school; lectures have not started.” One of the questions I put to them is: “Is it only what a lecturer teaches that you should know?” I am proud to tell you this: I loved that life.
Another thing is know how to plan yourself. I have a friend that insists on me reading for six hours. At first, it was very outrageous but one of the things he told me was that in a day, I have 24 hours, so, what is six hours to doing the primary thing you came to school for? So, that was one of the things that helped me study. How could I forget that God helped me? There are some places where you have challenges where you know you just can’t help yourself and it’s almost like quit school but God be praised. I never did “quit school” finally. He helped me.
We found out that while you were in school, you were the vice president of your department. Were you political?
I don’t think I belong to the class of what people call political. Actually, in my tenure, I was elected. I was appointed and I can tell you, if that position were to be a post you vie for, I wouldn’t have gone for it. I’m not the political type. I wanted to reject the post of a vice president when I was told but they didn’t even give me the opportunity to do so. The criteria then were academic performance and that was how I found myself there and did the much I could.
Ifunanya, you are good looking, you are intelligent and have good grades and a man will turn to look at you on the road. Who has been the man in your life all the while you were on campus?
My goodness!(laughter). Must there be a man in my life?
Are you saying that there is no man in your life all these while?
I don’t think I have a man in my life. Yes, am good looking. C’mon, I know that I have good grades and everything but I have friends – good friends, friends that understood what I came to school for. If you are talking about the man in my life, I have good male friends; some really close but I don’t have a fiancé.
So what you are saying is that while you were in school, you were not in love?
I think I was not in love.
If I were in your department, perhaps in first year, what would be your advice to me concerning scaling the hurdles you scaled through to merge the best graduating student?
From day one I hope you are not in there to get a certificate; if you are, change your mind set! Make sure you love what you are doing so much that even if you were told not to read, you will insist on reading. Attend classes. There are classes I don’t enjoy but I still attend them because that’s what I came to school for. I can tell you that in a semester, I may not have missed a class even if I missed, they weren’t on purpose. You should know when you read best. I never went for night class. I don’t enjoy reading at night. I have learnt to maximize my day and at night, I love my bed. So, it may be the other way round for you but just know that when you read well and follow it. There is something you can’t just help. I’m not trying to coerce you into being a Christian. My being a Christian helped me.
In my department they can vouch for me that for one day, I did not turn to see anybody or ask anybody anything or tell anybody anything or carry anything to any exams hall. Yet when the result comes out, you just know it’s God. I’m not saying that sometimes we don’t have tough exams that you just feel like, “I wish this wasn’t this way.” and that’s the point where people tell me they couldn’t help it; and did something (bad). What is the point? This is an exam for what you know, so why am I proving a something I don’t know? One of those things exams malpractice do is that it removes self confidence from you; so those things were avoided and I never lost confidence in myself.
I will tell you that it was grace. I did not struggle. I just lived my life. I did not struggle to be the Best Graduating student. I was not competing with someone like, “Hey, he’s getting better, better try and make up for it”. I just was myself and it happened that way.
Editor’s Note: You can ask Ifunanya more questions or share your view on this interview by using the comment box or facebook comment below.