"4.91/5.0 CGPA": UNILAG's Female First Class Graduate Who Won N150 Million Scholarship Speaks

"4.91/5.0 CGPA": UNILAG's Female First Class Graduate Who Won N150 Million Scholarship Speaks

  • A Nigerian scholar won the N150 million Vanier Scholarship and has achieved academic excellence in biochemistry and cancer research
  • She started her journey in Lagos, where she learned to adapt and overcome adversity, and continued to excel at the University of British Columbia in Canada, where she received several awards and recognitions
  • Zaynab enjoys the cultural diversity and quality of life in Canada, and advises students who want to pursue graduate studies to ensure that their living situation is conducive to their mental health

Kehinde Abisola Zaynab has always strived for academic excellence, and her efforts paid off with remarkable achievements and recognition.

Photo of Zaynab Abisola Kehinde
Zaynab is a Vanier scholar at UBC. Photo credit: Zaynab Abisola Kehinde
Source: Original

Zaynab is one of the few Nigerian scholars who have won the prestigious Vanier Scholarship, worth N150 million, to pursue her PhD at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada.

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A beginning in Lagos

Zaynab’s passion for science and learning began in Lagos, where she grew up and attended the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

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She graduated as the best student of Biochemistry in 2016, with a CGPA of 4.91/5.0.

She attributed her academic success to her adaptability and resilience, which she developed in the face of adversity in Nigeria.

“I developed adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity from my home country, Nigeria. These qualities have been essential in adapting to the challenges of graduate school and overcoming setbacks along the way," she said.

Zaynab’s outstanding performance opened many doors for her to pursue her graduate studies abroad.

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She chose UBC, one of the top-ranked universities in the world, due to its conducive environment for learning, leadership and research.

She told Legit.ng:

”One of the most delightful surprises for me at UBC and in Vancouver is the accessibility of local foods and connections with people from my community and religion. I also find it fascinating that UBC's campus is home to many tourist attractions, and I always love to invite my friends to bask in its beauty. The university is situated on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by forests and mountains, which provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and kayaking. Moreover, UBC has many green spaces and gardens, such as the Nitobe Memorial Garden and UBC botanical garden. Vancouver, the city where UBC is located, is culturally diverse and stunning, offering a high quality of life.”

Novel research on infant nutrition

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She enrolled in a Master’s programme in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, where she focused on developing novel research that could help address food insecurity and malnutrition in tropical regions.

Speaking about it, she said:

"My Master’s research allowed me to develop the technical skills I was interested in, while also investigating a topic of personal interest—infant nutrition—and to make contributions that will help millions of children worldwide, most notably in tropical nations. The quest to fulfill my passion for clinically relevant research is what attracted me to my Ph.D. supervisor, Dr. Parker at UBC, who is working to improve cancer therapy by studying the unique metabolic/nutritional demands of cancer cells."

Her innovative works in research have earned her several awards and accolades, including the 3MT People’s Choice Award at UBC, the Four Year Doctoral Fellowship, and the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative PhD Award.

Zaynab’s research is at the forefront of cancer biology, and has significant implications for improving cancer diagnosis and treatment.

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Self-doubt and other challenges

The UBC scholar's towering achievements have not been without challenges.

She admitted that she sometimes faced self-doubt and imposter syndrome, as well as the intense competition and pressure that come with pursuing an academic career.

She also acknowledged the difficulty of keeping up with the rapid evolution of science and technology.

“Despite these challenges, I am confident that I am actively working to overcome them. I am continually striving to improve my scientific and grant writing abilities by attending workshops and seeking feedback from mentors and colleagues. Additionally, I recognise the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest research and innovations in my field and regularly attend conferences and seminars to deepen my understanding. Ultimately, I believe that with hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn and grow, I can overcome any obstacle and succeed in my chosen career path,” she said.

She also credited her family and friends for their support and encouragement throughout her journey. She said they helped her cope with stress and maintain a healthy balance between work and life.

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“I have been able to overcome my challenges by talking to my family and friends,” she said.

Zaynab is an inspiration to many young Nigerians who aspire to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world.

She is a shining example of what hard work, dedication, and passion can achieve.

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In an earlier report by Legit.ng, Uchenna, a graduate of Literature in English at Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, narrated how he topped his class from primary school to university.

He was the best graduating student in Literature in English and one of his school's top 20 influential graduates.

He also received the Federal Government Award for Academic Excellence in 2022.

Source: Legit.ng

Authors:
Basit Jamiu avatar

Basit Jamiu (Editor) Basit Jamiu is an award-winning journalist and a human interest editor with more than 5 years of experience in the media (Ikeja Bird, Prime Progress, The Movee). He started his journalism career after graduating from Ekiti State University in 2018. He is a 2023 MTN Media Fellow, OCRP Fellow at ICIR, and Accountability Fellow at CJID. He also has professional certificates in Information Management, Technical Writing, Digital Marketing from Google. He can be reached via basit.jamiu@corp.legit.ng.