Nigerian women have continued to show they have all it takes to make history across the country’s border.
Somadila Igboanugo, a medical graduate and a blogger recently graduated with a First Class with a 5.0/5.0 CGPA from Rostov State Medical University, Russia.
In this exclusive interview with Nigerian Tribune, she shares her success story.
I feel excited to have graduated from medical school with first-class honours and a CGPA of 5.0. I am grateful to God that all my efforts paid off.
Did you know this was going to happen?
Well, from the beginning, I didn’t know that I would graduate with a CGPA of 5.0/5.0. I only wanted to graduate with a first-class and be among the best students at my university. To be among the best students, you have to study hard and sacrifice some things like partying and other things that do not contribute to the success of your academics.
How would you feel if you had graduated with any grade other than this?
I would be unhappy for a while, but I would console myself with the fact that we would not always get everything we wanted. In life, we gain some and lose some.
Tell us about your educational background.
I did my secondary school at Godfirst International Secondary School in Abia State. In 2014, I graduated from secondary school with a WAEC result of six As and three B2s. I have been a bright student and always maintained the first position throughout my secondary school education. In 2015, I got an admission to study Medical Laboratory Science. Though I applied for Medicine and Surgery, I was not successful at that.
By 2016, I heard about the Federal Government Scholarship Board and I applied for it. I passed and was awarded a bilateral scholarship to travel to Russia to study Medicine and Surgery. I had to do the Russian language course for one year and after that, I resumed studying Medicine in September 2017. In June 2023, I graduated from Rostov State Medical University in Russia with first-class honours and a CGPA of 5.0. I was equally the valedictorian for graduation.
In my school, foreign students have graduated with first-class honours but not with a CGPA of 5.0. I am the first foreign student to break that record.
Why did you decide to choose medicine?
I chose Medicine because I like the idea of helping people to be healthy. When I learnt about the human systems in Biology, I enjoyed the topic and that made me want to know more. I admire the fact that a patient could trust that seeing a doctor would make them better. I am someone who likes reading about the human body and how every part relies on each other to function − and when one part gets dysfunctional, the rest are affected.
I am always eager to use the knowledge I’ve gotten from medicine to treat patients at the hospital. In other words, I can say that I’m drawn to medicine and believe that I would become a great doctor.
What was your study schedule like?
In medical school, during school periods, I study for 8-10 hours mostly. The reason I studied for long hours is because I’m a slow reader. I write notes when I’m studying, and I retain a lot of information when I write notes. Studying in the Russian language needs translations for words that I don’t know — so, sometimes, I would have to watch videos on YouTube that explain the topic that I was reading. I wasn’t working, so schooling was the only thing I was doing. Though I had my blog and YouTube channel, those didn’t take much of my time.
Did your gender impact your decision to pursue a medical career?
I don’t think that being a woman influenced my decision of wanting to be a doctor. I am not the first woman on earth who has studied medicine or the only doctor shaking tables in the medical profession. Being a person with dreams and desires made me choose the medical profession.
What is your take on the ‘japa’ trend? Is it the best for young Nigerians?
I have heard a lot about ‘japa’ and believe that people have reasons for whatever they choose to do. Nigeria is a developing country and some people feel they are not getting the kind of life they aspire and maybe another country would give it to them. Going to another country may still not give it to them, but there is no harm in trying. People should be allowed to experience life outside their own country whether for good or for bad. I am not in a position to say what is good for another human being if the person is not under my care.
Did you participate in extracurricular activities while in school?
Yes. I was part of the choristers at my church in Russia. I have my blog where I write about self-development and other educative write-ups. I also have a YouTube channel.
What were the major challenges you faced at the university?
I encountered some lecturers who believe that foreign students can’t get any grade higher than a B. With those kinds of lecturers, you have to prove yourself over and over again before they can give you an A.
Another challenge was the language. Studying in the Russian language made it seem like I didn’t have a life outside medical school because I had aimed for a first-class and that entailed studying even when I didn’t feel like it. Also, because it is another language, I spent much time trying to understand most topics. But, I thank God that it paid off in the end.
What do you believe to be some of the most pressing health issues today?
Some of the most pressing health issues are cardiovascular diseases and cancers. The best solution I could think of is finding out about those diseases early so that treatments could be commenced. People should not always wait till they are sick before they go to the hospital. Everybody is supposed to run medical checkups at least once a year because, without checkups, we won’t find out about these diseases early.
Malignant cancers are fast-deteriorating diseases and some could be asymptomatic till they get to some certain stage before you could see their symptoms. So, finding out about these diseases early would help initiate early treatments and prevention of unnecessary deaths. People should be educated to lead a healthy lifestyle because some of our lifestyles could also be affecting our health. For example, smoking causes lung cancers and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
How did Rostov State Medical University impact your academics and life?
Rostov played a valid role in my academics, from the teachers to the students. Though there were good and bad moments, I’m grateful that I studied there on a full scholarship. I met nice lecturers who challenged me to be better.
What are your career goals?
I aspire to specialise in Cardiology. All I need to do is to water it a little. I will get there by God’s grace.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy writing non-medical articles, listening to music, creating videos, and watching movies. I also enjoy going out with friends and family or having a chat with them.
Do you have any family members or role models who are physicians?
No family member of mine is a physician. I am the first medical doctor in my family. I have friends who are doctors, but I would not say that they are my role models. My friends who are ahead of me in the medical field, I ask them questions when I need their opinions on something.
What advice would you offer students who want to achieve great academic feats?
You need to have it at the back of your mind that nothing good comes easy. It sounds easy to mention a high CGPA and graduate with first-class honours, but are you willing to do what it takes to actualise it? You must be willing to sacrifice some other aspects of your life. It is usually better to resume active studying once school commences, so that before tests and exams you have covered the scheme and all you need to do is to revise.
There will be hard moments like failing a test due to one reason or the other, but don’t let one failure define you. When you fail, find out the reason why you failed and do things differently to pass the next time. Some lectures might be hard on you but you can pray about them and ask God to soften their hearts. It works.
You should know that you don’t need to be perfect to aim high. You can aim high with what you have. I was not perfect at the Russian language, but I graduated with first-class honours and a CGPA of 5.0. You can too.