Zainab Bello Kofa graduated top of her class in the Department of Mathematics, Ahmadu Bello University, with a first-class degree accumulating a whopping 4.85 CGPA! The best in the class of U16Maths ABU Zaria.
According to available records, she may not be the first female first-class graduate in the department as widely reported but her grades are the highest ever obtained by any student in the department.
Investigations revealed that the case of Zainab Bello Kofa is more special because despite being a married woman with children, she did not allow her family disposition, being a wife to be a roadblock to her academic excellence but saw it as an opportunity to carve out a bright future for herself. This genius is no stranger to awards as she has been the best student in her class ever since her nursery days. She spoke to MIDAT JOSEPH in an exclusive interview with Quest Times.
First of all
I am Zainab Bello Kofa, I was born and bred in Zaria. Zaria is where I had all my education, from nursery up to tertiary level. I graduated from secondary school in 2016 and got admitted into Ahmadu Bello University that same year to study Mathematics. Alhamdulilah (to God be the glory), I was among the top students in my nursery, primary and secondary days. I had 4As and 5Bs in my WAEC result.
Graduating with 1st class in Mathematics
I didn’t apply to study mathematics at first, I chose medicine, but the university admitted me into the mathematics department. In fact, I wanted to change to another course because some people told me not to study mathematics as a lady. One of my brothers encouraged me to go ahead with the course and I heeded his advice. And you know, my admission to the department is a bit unconventional because of the JAMB combination; medicine and mathematics are different. The department also didn’t want to take me in because of the JAMB combination; but due to late registration, they allowed me to stay in the department for a trial and to see if I am able to cope with the course, and glory to God I was able to stay through.
How did you cope?
I like reading. I studied hard when I was in school and did not have a specific time for reading. I read in the morning, afternoon, night, midnight, I don’t even go to classes to read, I always read in the hostel, because to me, reading in the classroom is a waste of time, I trained myself to read in the hostel and Allah made everything possible for me.
Your first semester result?
My first-semester result was 4.37, and it was so encouraging. That result was part of the things that motivated me to stay put in the department because after seeing my result I told myself if I read harder, I would get a better result, so that was how I kept on studying hard and everything became much easier day by day.
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You know, after graduating from secondary school, you just want to further your studies, so since I was given something, I took the courage to just go ahead with the belief that what is worth doing is worth doing well. There is a difference between what you choose and what God has chosen for you, so I just took to be that this is what God want for me and then I put in my best.
While at the university?
Yes, while in school
At what age?
I got married at 21 years
For how long now?
For three years now.
Balancing school and home
After the marriage, my husband allowed me to continue staying in the hostel because he didn’t want our marriage to affect my studies being that my result was very okay before we got married; he sometimes stopped me from travelling for the weekend so that I can attend to my studies. My husband really supported and encouraged my studies. It was even after I gave birth I faced some challenges, because I couldn’t stay in the hostel, I had to go back to my parents’ house and my mum took care of the baby while I concentrated on my studies. I was extremely prayerful during my studies as well.
Did you drop point during maternal period?
I gave birth during the COVID-19 lockdown period, so the schools were also on lockdown and by the time we resumed school, the baby was already seven months. I even had better results after I got married, my results were far better than when I was single.
Have you ever felt like quitting?
No, that thought never crossed my mind.
What about fun?
I am not a social person. I am not very social, there are many places on the campus I did not step my legs, I always move from hostel to classroom and I don’t engage in social activities in the school.
What’s your message to northern parent as regards to girl-child education?
I appeal to parents to support the education of a girl-child because my parents supported me at all levels of my education. The background they gave me when I was a little girl gave rise to what I am able to achieve, you can imagine if the foundation was not there, I wouldn’t have achieved this today. My father gave me the best of education; he took me to a very good school to the best of his ability. My mother too played a key role; she is the type of woman that is always there for her children. She always took us to school, she never got tired of taking care of her children and giving us support, she is my backbone, so, I think this feat is associated with the way my parents encouraged and supported me, and the only way one could pay them back is by being very good through reading. So, I think parents should support their children and encourage them to be better children.
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The support from my husband while I was in school was massive, and I use this avenue to encourage husbands to support the education of their wives.
Trending on social media?
At first, it wasn’t easy for me. Like I said earlier, I am not a social person, so, it was not easy for me when people were talking about me on social media, because I didn’t actually go to school for that to happen. It wasn’t easy, I even cried, but my family kept on encouraging me not to bother, so, I got used to it after some time.
Yes, you know when you are not a social person and all of a sudden this happens, it makes one become emotional. Even in school, I kept on hiding, nobody knew about the result and all of a sudden people knew about it and started talking about it, but I thank God.
Seven awards in secondary school?
I bagged the seven awards in my final secondary school examinations; my SS3 exams, I was given the awards of the best in English, Biology, Economics, IRS and Civic Education, I was also given an award as the labour prefect and also bagged the best in an academic award.