During the 30th convocation ceremony of the University of Calabar (UNICAL) on March 11, Ekam Stephen Magor was recognised as the best graduating student both at the faculty and departmental levels.
This young man broke a 41 year old record (1975 – 2016) by being the first student to graduate with a First Class from the department of History and International Studies.
Born on August 23, 1991, he graduated with a total CGPA of 4.62.
Stephen Magor broke a 41-year-old jinx in the department of history and international students, setting the record of being the first student to achieve such
media houses had the opportunity of chatting with him and he opened up about how he was able to achieve this feat.
According to him, before he gained admission into UNICAL, he had heard a lot about the department of History and International Studies and the stories were terrible.
He was told that one might be on a First Class in year but will eventually drop along the way but he was not one of those who made First Class in year one so he put in more effort.
“From my second year of study, precisely after smashing all As I knew I could make it but it wasn’t certain. I had a dream of just being on a First Class and then whatever the departmentt likes they could do as I heard. Interestingly, it became certain in my final year when the new Head of Department came into seat, a fair administrator. The little whispers breezed past my ears that I would certainly achieve it. So I intensified the effort and made it certain by recording all As again,” Magor said.
Some of the challenges he had on his road to success were having to deal with academic witch hunting from both students and lecturers
His department did not make things very easy as you do not get to see your final year results at all and so anything could happen to your result either ‘intentionally’ or ‘mistakenly’ and “the end result will make you sad but you’ll accept the apology.”
On how his winning reading formula, he said: “I had a policy of not waiting until I’m in the best position. So I read anytime, importantly almost all through the night. Coffee was a constant because I was usually tired after my busy days. I bought more books than my lecturers. Sometimes, I often borrow their books as well. I made notes and my colleagues (friends) were very good so the competition was very healthy and motivating.
“One of the greatest factors was my urge to always research personally and then discuss same ideas with my colleagues. It makes me understand better and urge me to get more information since the already discussed doesn’t give me an edge anymore. So I and my friends often gather our mates before exams and have discussions in which we teach colleagues.
“There were the junior colleagues who usually ask for tutorials and academic help. They also helped. The library was a second home to the extent that I often walk in without a pass, and assist others in as well.
“I never dressed flashy to avoid attention. So I avoided certain school activities even though I was a strong Unionist and active sportsman. Lastly, I write very well. Put differently, I arrange facts and analyze them in a scholarly manner.”
Magor’s department did not make things very easy but by the grace of God he was able to pull through
Some of the challenges he had on his road to success were having to deal with academic witch hunting (both students and lecturers), pressures, backlashes, distractions from females, multi-tasking academics with other activities, financial constraints and last minutes manipulations. He was able to pull through by the grace of God.
Magor never wanted a First Class but gave it his best to prove the “Thomases” wrong and then it came along.
“I will say I wanted to be a First Class personality but ended with a concomitant certificate in the process of my hard and smart work,” he added.
His advice to students out there who are aspiring to graduate with a First Class.
“Firstly, sacrifices must be made. Certain distractions must be avoided. The individual should spend financially on academics more than luxuries. Also, such an individual must develop an insatiable habit for reading. Self motivation is important, but if he/she lacks such a character then the friends around should be a motivation i.e the kind of friends one keep is also a determinant. Sharing of knowledge is very key. Like the old adage goes “iron sharpens iron”. Intellectual discussions are useful. Asking both lecturers and students questions (in and outside the class room) also helps. Importantly, early preparations is the most vital I guess. Reading and preparing ahead of lecturers and colleagues is key.
“Importantly, never compete with colleagues. It puts the individual under immense pressure. Healthy competition is good. It ensures that at every stage in the academic journey of the individual, he/she should surpass previous standards.”
According to this young brilliant man, to achieve this feat, sacrifices must be made
Meanwhile, other students have been achieving great results in other universities. Recently, a pregnant woman identified as Remilekun Orefunwa emerged the best graduating student of the 2015/2016 academic session in the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. This is after trying and failing to pass JAMB 7 times.
Also, in 2014, Ubani Obinna Ranks made history as the third student to graduate with a first class degree from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
NAIJ.com met with this young and talented Nigerian artist who has made lovely paintings of prominent Nigerians like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, among others.