Twenty-eight-year-old Samson Chibuzo Ugwu is the poster boy for the word 'perseverance.'
The palm tree climber recently graduated with a first class from Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike as the best student in his department and college.
In this exclusive interview with Legit.ng's Victor Duru, the promising young man bares it all on how he achieved academic success against all odds.
Samson came from a humble background
Samson Chibuzo Ugwu's story became public knowledge and caught the attention of Legit.ng after he celebrated his academic feat in a Facebook post on Tuesday, November 28.
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Samson shared a picture that showed him on a plan tree and another of him in an academic gown as he graduated.
In the said post, the young man stated that he hails from Olido Enugu-Ezike in Igbo Eze North LGA of Enugu State and was born on December 24th, 1995 to the family of Pastor Jonah Ugwu.
He said his father is the founding pastor of a local church while his mum made a living as a petty trader.
As a result of his family's financial challenge, he said he attended a community primary school where pupils submitted crafts such as brooms as payment for their fees and this was how he began palm tree climbing. In his words:
"I attended our community primary school where pupils do not pay fees but instead submit crafts such as brooms every week.
"From primary one, we were taught how to make brooms. By primary four, I was climbing small palm trees and cutting fronds for myself and others using ordinary rope when we went to fetch brooms in groups. I became the designated frond cutter and received payment in brooms from my peers."
How Samson combined palm tree climbing with school work
Against all odds, Samson got into school and was still able to overcome the challenge of finance thanks to support from his aunt and money he made from his palm tree climbing side 'hustle. He wrote:
"Whenever we had semester break, strike or holiday I would come back home and switch from student mode back to palm tree climbing mode. My parents tried their best in supporting me financially but it wasn't enough for me.
"Those days if you see me, you won't believe I was an undergraduate. My customers used to pray for me that God should change my life because they pitied me so much."
The Benue State Corps member recalled how tough palm tree climbing was and still is.
"...Almost every year I hear the news of how a man from my village or neighbouring community fell off the palm tree and died.
"I faced a lot of challenges. Sometimes my leg would drift, sometimes I would almost cut my climber(climbing rope) up there. Sometimes the palm fruit would almost fall on me.
"Sometimes the climber would twist me and my head would be upside down. How about snake? I can't count how many snakes I have fought and killed up there."
The forestry and environmental management graduate now runs a bee-keeping business and hopes to land scholarship opportunities to further his studies in the nearest future.
Samson affirmed that he never tapped palm wine. He told Legit.ng:
"Please note, I didn't climb palm tree for palm wine tapping o, as I don't take alcohol."
Man bags first class after losing two loved ones days before final exams
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that a man had bagged first class after losing his dad and grandma a few days before his final exams.
According to him, he lost his dad nine days before his bar final exams. Some weeks before that, his grandmother had passed.
To show how overwhelming the situation was for him, he said that he could not breathe. Despite everything that he had to face, the young man came out with a first class. He tweeted:
"But God held my hand and walked me through the fire. He made me proof of his love and grace."