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Abia

Abia varsity’s best graduating optometry doctor: How health challenge inspired me to study medicine

Chuks Onuoha, Umuahia

Thirty-Two graduates of the Department of Optometry, Abia State University, Uturu, Abia State, were recently inducted. It was the institution’s 23rd induction, held inside the university’s auditorium.

The number one inductee at the event, Dr. Okore Nnamdi Elem, was, as a child, always weaving in and out of hospital in a desperate bid to save his life. He rose from the ashes of his predicament to clear the prizes on offer.

Elem, who had a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 4.14, bagged the Registrar’s Optometrist and Dispensing Opticians Registration Board of Nigeria (ODORBN) Award for the best graduating student, the Department’s Award for the best graduating student, Commendation Award for Departmental Librarian, NOSA’S Meritorious Award, and an automatic employment award from the Vice Chancellor of ABSU, Prof. Uche Ikonne.

Elem told Daily Sun that it was during his frequent visits to hospital that it struck him that many people coming to the hospital were gravely in need of help. He also discovered that such people were often helpless, sick, poor and unable to pay their hospital bills.

“It was from there that the passion for me to be a doctor and help the sick began to grow,” he said. “Since then, I have always had a strong passion to help out. I figured that those people might not be able to pay their medical bills because such bills were always expensive.

“That was the reason I chose to go into the medical field. From that point in my youthful age, the hunger to help became like a passion inside me. Each time I saw a sick fellow, I always had this passion to help out. That was why I actually went in for medicine.

“Initially, I went for general medicine, but I was given admission to read optometry. I accepted that with some reservations, hoping that, after some time, I would apply for a change of course. But that didn’t work out. However, over time, I came to love the course much more than general medicine because I had begun to learn things that marvelled me.

“As it stands now, even if I am offered another opportunity to go back and read general medicine, I would not accept the offer. I would stick with what I’m doing at the moment and ensure that I do it better,” he said.

Elem also reflected on his days as a little boy: “My early beginnings were like that of every other young boy from an average family, because my siblings were always there for me. My parents, friends, and relations were on hand to attend to my needs.

“I attended some competitive schools for my primary and secondary education. Although my parents were not teachers, they were always eager to see me do my assignments; and they helped out whenever the need arose.

“While I was in primary school, I was excellent, especially in the numerals, such as mathematics. I was generally a very good student.

“But it never occurred to me that working hard would one day bring me honour; I never knew that I was going to make the best result some day and be celebrated.”  

He said that, right from his first year in the university, he had resolved to work hard and be outstanding.

“So I went full blast right from my 100 level until I was through. I am the first child of my parents’ five children – three girls and two boys. I strongly believe that whatever I encounter in life holds one lesson or the other for me. 

“While I was still in the university, there were times I read and thought that I had grasped nothing, but I was wrong. Things like that help me to learn better and to gain more life experiences.”

Elem advised every student wishing to make a First Class and those gunning for the best prizes in their respective classes to be hardworking and diligent.

“They should be able to manage their time effectively, because time management is very important. That is a very good factor because, in the higher institution, there are very many extra-curricular activities that students get involved in. So, for anyone to be successful, they need to have a very clear understanding of how to manage their time. That will help them in achieving the success they desire.

“Every student should know how to make time available for whatever they want to do. They should always keep to the time-management plan they have made; that is very important.

“I am very happy to be celebrated by my parents, colleagues, teachers, the school and other admirers.

 “I would like to let students to know that the only limitations they will ever face are the ones they place on themselves. Anybody, no matter their background, family status or position in the society, can attain any height of excellence if they are willing to put in the right effort at the right time.

“I hope and plan to go further in my educational pursuits; that will be after my internship and NYSC programme. I wish to go back to school for my master’s degree and then progress to acquire a PhD. I hope to be among the best professionals in my field,” he said.

In his opening remarks, Ikonne, the chairman of the induction ceremony, jocularly told the graduates that for their title to change from “Mr.” to “Dr.” was a great feat. He urged them to be very serious in all their endeavours. “I feel fulfilled regarding what has become of this department. Today, it has become a reference point globally,” he said.

In his address, head of the Department of Optometry, Prof. (Mrs.) O.U. Amaechi, said the event marked another level in the lives of the inductees. She thanked God for seeing them through, while imploring them to be great ambassadors of their school.

Prof. C. Aluka, the school’s provost, reminded the inductees that the only legacies they had, which would endure, were sincerity and uprightness. Quoting from the Bible, Psalm 112, he advised them to abide by the oaths they had taken.

Before administering the oath on the inductees, the registrar of ODORBN, Prof. (Mrs.) E.B. Uzodike, advised them to remain faithful to their oath of practice: “Today is special, as you go into the field of practice. Improve yourselves, create opportunities to learn more and don’t mingle with those who will deceive you,” she said.

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