“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela
Forty-two years after its establishment as one of the foundation departments in the Faculty of Sciences, Zainab Abdullahi, has broken the record to emerge the first female scholar of Physics Department, Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. Twenty-two-year-old Zainab at the recent combined convocation ceremony of the University bagged First Class Honours, graduating with a 4.81 CPGA in the 2017 /2018 academic session.
Zainab, although a native of Katsina State, is the daughter of Mallam Abdullahi Muhammad, an academic UDUS. Born and bred in Sokoto State, she has always shown remarkable cleverness. This has been evident throughout the stages of her education. During her basic education, she emerged the overall best at the University Primary School; and also emerged overall best in NECO, in her final year at the University Model Secondary School, Sokoto.
Recounting her days while in school, the University scholar said, “It was just dedication and prayers. Since my UG1, I’ve worked hard towards graduating with First Class. I read to understand, not just to pass, so I do not like cramming. Anytime I had free period, I did not waste it. I read, if not in class, then in the library, or in group discussion.” Stating that Physics was her favourite among science subjects while in secondary school, she added that “I just didn’t realize that I could go for it in my higher studies; it was God that showed me the way.”
Meanwhile, Zainab had wanted to study Medicine and was equipped with good results in her O’level, both in WAEC and NECO, save her UTME results in 2014. Fate seemed to have other plans for her; when she could not get her desired course. “The highest in our school was 190 and I had 185 so I was not offered Medicine which I wanted to study. 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.”
Unlike others who could rewrite the UTME, Zainab said she did not retry it the following year to study Medicine that 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.”
Likewise, she had a strong resolve to make the best of her course, despite the discouragement from some persons that she should jettison Physics. No doubt that academic excellence comes with some level of ingenuity; yet, Zainab who wears the regalia of humility declines being called a genius. According to her, “I am not a genius, maybe I am gifted from God. Geniuses do not read, but I do.”
Furthermore, she disclosed that prioritization of one’s goals and maximizing time on priorities contribute largely to academic success. She was always punctual during lectures and never wasted her time while in school. “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 said.
Explaining how she made the feat, she noted that if the lectures or materials were not explicit enough, she would do her own research on such topics, using the internet or by consulting her senior colleagues and or lecturers. At other times she would use her textbooks to understand it better.
Now married to a medical doctor, Dr Aminu Abdurrahman, she hopes to continue her education and also contribute to human development through teaching. Particularly, she wishes to demystify the jinx being tossed around about Physics being a difficult subject. “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 counselled.
Zainab’s success was also stimulated by family support. She heartily expressed gratitude to her family for supporting her and creating the enabling environment for her to concentrate on her studies.
Her feat brings to fore the saying of Henry Ford, that: “It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time others waste.” Get ahead, and succeed too.