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international education magazine of TIEC

June 2010

TOM CHIGBO Meet Britain’s Obama

BOLA ATTA Role Model


ENGINEERING Career Profile

HENRY BONSU Career Interview



June 2010


FEATURES 07 City: Aberdeen 09 School: Strathallan 13 Career Profile: Engineering 16 Topic: What Next?

p. 07

20 University: St Andrews


INTERVIEWS 11 Role Model: Bola Atta 18 Career: Henry Bonsu

p. 09

31 Cover: Tom Chigbo


REGULARS 04 Editor’s Note 02 TIEC 05 Mailbox 06 Overseas Education

p. 31 Photograph: Michael Derringer

COLUMNS 17 Visa Advice: UK Student Visa 27 Young Exec: Otoide Ayemere 33 Away from Home: Mega Ofodum 34 Travel: Calabar 36 Q & A 38 Your Space


22 News: ICONS 2010 23 Event Review: Let’s Talk Africa 25 Where Are They Now? 28 Reviews 29 Extras 35 Just for Fun 37 Classifieds

p. 29

Style House 03




elcome to the sixth edition of Aspire magazine and a big thank you to all our readers, advertisers and supporters. It has been so much fun putting our Graduation edition together despite the challenges. Thankfully the bizzare ‘Ash Cloud’ has come and gone and we can all get on with business as usual. I am really glad to be a part of the dedicated team at Aspire. The encouragement and support from everyone at TIEC, our parent company has been overwhelming that I don’t feel that new anymore. My publishing experience covers m a g a z i n e s, n ew s p a p e r s a n d o n l i n e publications covering a variety of areas including education, books, careers, fashion, interviews, music and so on. I am happy to bring that expertise to Aspire. We’ve also listened to your ideas; added new sections; got more students and professionals involved; doubled our print run and of course our new cool A5 format. This edition brims with so much for everyone; student, teacher and parent. Whether it is deciding ‘What Next?’ (p. 16) or getting inspired by my role model Mrs. Bola Atta (p. 11), Henry Bonsu (p. 18) and Otoide

Ayemere (p. 27), you are bound to learn a thing or two, I know I did. Aspire also travels to Scotland, we feature one of its cities, Aberdeen (p. 07), schools, Strathallan (p. 09) and University, St Andrews (p. 20). We are also saying thank you to all our s u p p o r t e r s. O u r a d ve r t i s e r s g e t a complimentary ad in our new Classifieds section of the magazine. Our readers also get a discount on their next TIEC consultation. Just remember to mention ASPIRE when next you make your booking. Happy Reading! Isabella E.C. Akinseye

ASPIRE TEAM Publisher: Olugbenga Ogunbode | Editor: Isabella E.C. Akinseye | Contributing Editor: Temitayo Olofinlua Graphic Designer: Akeem M. Ibrahim | Photographer: Michael Derringer | Publishing Consultant: Lee Tilbury Contributors: Oyindamola Olofinlua, Rayo, Mafoya, Yemi Akinyugha | Write to us @ TIEC: Lagos: 57 Oladipo Bateye Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. Tel: +234 (0) 1 7655704, +234 (0) 1 7656039 Mobile: +234 (0) 8061396406 | Abuja: 10, Owenna Close, Off Yedseram Street, Maitama, Abuja Nigeria. Tel: +234 (0) 1 7655704, +234 (0) 1 7656039, Mobile: +234 (0) 8061396406, +234 (0) 8036673419 UK: St John’s Innovation Centre, Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WS, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0) 1223 422256 Fax: +44 (0) 1223 420844. | International Student Centre, 46a Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1LA, United Kingdom. Tel: 01223 422256 Aspire is a termly publication of TIEC. The articles, adverts and opinions expressed in Aspire magazine do not necessarily represent the view(s) of TIEC.



Mailbox Star Letter Thanks for providing a magazine that really shows that the black youth CAN and do succeed in what they aspire to be! So often we are represented in the media as underachievers, thugs and criminals, it is so refreshing to read about the accomplishments of my fellow brothers and sisters. I also like the fact that you provide information about courses and issues regarding studying in the UK because so many miss out on going to the best schools because of lack of knowledge or are afraid to apply to the top schools because they don’t see anyone like them there. As much as the international universities are widely acclaimed and hold much prestige, I think it is also important to show that there are universities back home in Africa which also have very high standards. How about showing some examples of students who have completed their undergraduate degree in their home African country and then come to the UK or elsewhere for a postgraduate studies etc just to create slightly more balance? Also would like to see perhaps a section on the social aspect of university life and ways to adjust to studying in a new environment and perhaps something on spirituality, how to maintain /keep your African and Christian values when studying in a new country as well as sections on societies (e.g. Christian Unions). I think a section on money management would also be very useful as students here sometimes struggle with managing their finances. Overall, however I love ASPIRE and the concept behind it. I look forward to seeing what is in store in the following issues. Keep up the good work! Ama, Cambridge Ed: Thank you for your letter. We will be introducing sections to cover the topics you mentioned in future editions.


Dear Editor, Well done. I really enjoyed your UK Visa advice column and the selection of well researched articles about international education. My son and I took turns in reading a cool but informative magazine. Great cover; being in university doesn’t mean you have to look like a nerd! Happy Parent, by email

To t h e T I E C a n d ASPIRE team, keep up the good work! I saw a copy of Aspire in my school library. Thanks for enlightening us about the different academic routes available i n t e r n a t i o n a l ly a n d scholarships. Kelly, Nairobi WRITE & WIN S h a r e yo u r t h o u g h t s, comments and feedback on Aspire magazine for a chance to grab a prize. Email us at : Please include your full name, address and phone number. We only print the name and city. We reserve the right to edit the letters for clarity and c o h e r e n c e. A l l l e t t e r s published in this edition have won a pair of cinema tickets with the Star Letter winning a shopping voucher.



Feature City


Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again” thus the Aberdeen motto welcomes visitors to the beautiful Scottish city. Dubbed Granite City because of its architecture which dates back to the Victorian era of granite, Aberdeen lays between two rivers the ‘Dee and Don’ which create a beautiful backdrop to it. The natives of this relatively small city are called Aberdonians, and ‘Doric’ (a variation of English language) is their native language. Aberdeen is the centre of Europe’s petroleum industry. It has the second largest heliport in the world and an important service ship harbour port serving oil rigs offshore. Established in 1136, Aberdeen Harbour has been referred to as the oldest business in Britain. No visit to Aberdeen is complete without a trip to this historic harbour. The City is proud home to two universities; the University of Aberdeen, founded in 1495 and the fifth oldest university in the English speaking world, and the Robert Gordon ASPIRE MAGAZINE | June 2010

University under which there are two artistic schools; Gray’s School of Art, and The Scott Sutherland School of Architecture. MUST SEE The main street in Aberdeen is Union Street. It is wide and around a mile long with beautiful buildings on each side. Union Street is the thriving heart of the city of which many of Aberdeen’s main attractions are located, including the technically accomplished Union Street Bridge which was built in the 19th century. MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES Marischal Museum holds the principal collections of the University of Aberdeen, comprising some 80,000 items in the areas of fine art, Scottish history and archaeology, and European, Mediterranean & Near Eastern archaeology. Aberdeen’s Art Gallery is the largest public


gallery in the North of Scotland. Situated in the heart of the city, with its impressive architecture, outstanding collections and excellent special exhibitions, it attracts over 200,000 visitors each year. The Art Gallery houses important art collections which include a collection of Impressionist, Victorian, Scottish and Twentieth century British paintings. The Aberdeen Maritime Museum, located in Shiprow, tells the story of Aberdeen’s links with the sea from the days of sail and clipper ships to the latest oil and gas exploration technology. Built in 1593, the Provost Ross’ House is the second oldest dwelling house in the city and still retains some original medieval features. EVENTS Aberdeen is home to a host of events and festivals like the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (the world’s largest arts festival for young performers), Aberdeen Jazz Festival,


and the University of Aberdeen’s literature festival, ‘Word’. Aberdeen is very much a “festival” city with events throughout the calendar ensuring a real buzz of activity so that no matter what time of the year you visit, there is most likely a festival for you to attend. SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE For peace and quiet however, head North! Old Aberdeen is a gem lying within the better known city of Aberdeen. Aberdeen is the modern sister while Old Aberdeen, like its name suggests, has preserved its heritage. Old Aberdeen provides a tranquil environment in contrast to the bustle of Aberdeen itself and is home to the University of Aberdeen. One of the oldest structures in Old Aberdeen is Brig O’ Balgownie or the bridge over the River Don. Other sites of interest in Old Aberdeen include St Machar’s Cathedral (one of Aberdeen’s three cathedrals) and Seaton Park. Welcome to Aberdeen, the city that offers all!


Feature School

STRATHALLAN Rated as the Top A Level School by The Financial Times (Sept. 09), Aspire finds out from both staff and student what makes Strathallan so special.

STAFF VIEW The ethos of Strathallan is to provide the opportunities for all pupils to excel, challenging them and also offering support and building confidence through a range of experiences. Central to this is academic success which is based on our small class sizes which allow work to be tailored to individual needs and with a staff: pupil ratio of 1:7. We are committed to high standards in sports, music, theatre and a range of extra curricula activities (with over 50 to choose from including equestrian, badminton, shooting and skiing). This year saw district and national success in 23 different sports with 18 national champions and 12 national representatives. The Music Department is central to school life and has its own concert room, keyboard room and classrooms, together with a number of individual practice rooms. Over 60 concerts take place a year from 20 different ensembles. Pupils have achieved places in national orchestras, bands, the RSAMD, national theatre courses and success in the national Marines competition. We have a unique Choral Scholarship programme in conjunction with Perth Cathedral and our Choral Scholars were recently featured on Radio 4. We are an international community with pupils, foreign nationals (14%) and expatriates, travelling from some twenty different countries, and we relish the range of cultures, beliefs and experience to which our pupils are thereby exposed. The focus is very


much on the individual who is appreciated for his/her contribution in whatever area of school. We have an exchange programme with schools in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and run cultural and sports trips abroad and within the UK. We are proud of our reputation for outstanding pastoral care which is reflected in the two recent Care Commission Reports which are available on our website. Strathallan received outstanding recognition by being the only school to have achieved a 5 grading in every category and the only full boarding school to have achieved a 6, the top grade. We are located on 150 acres of Perthshire countryside yet within easy reach of 3 international airports, our facilities are outstanding with a new girls’ house just completed to meet increased demand, two synthetic hockey pitches, swimming pool, golf course, shooting ranges, squash courts, purpose built computing, art and design technology facilities all on one campus. Being a member of the Strathallan


community is a wonderful experience in itself but vitally it is also an outstanding preparation for the future. All A-Level candidates gained a place at their first choice university, leaving Strathallan prepared and able to deal with what the outside world brings them – we give them opportunity to excel.

STUDENT VIEW Why did you choose to go to Strathallan? We chose Strathallan because we were looking for a school with a strong record of academic excellence and somewhere I could develop my musical ability and generally have the opportunity to try a wide range of different things. We visited other schools but preferred the friendly atmosphere at Strathallan. How did you find settling in? I found it very easy to settle in as everyone here is so welcoming and helpful. My Housemaster is very dependable and extremely supportive and makes boarding great fun while also ensuring everyone feels safe and secure. What’s boarding life like at Strathallan? Life is really wonderful at Strathallan and I have made a lot of good friends. We all have our own study bedrooms which can be decorated to reflect our own personalities and I enjoy hanging out with friends. The food is excellent with a great choice available each day and we even get a say in the menus through our food committee. There is never a dull moment at school as there is always so much to do academically as well as sport, music and extra curricula activities. Each house has a mix of boarding and day pupils. The day pupils also tend to spend most of their time at school because there is so much going on outside of the normal academic day. How do you keep in touch with friends and family back home? I phone my mum most days and text friends and family each week. We have wi fi in each study bedroom so this makes things very easy


to keep in touch. My parents bring me over at the beginning of the school year and I have no other relatives in the UK but I sometimes go out with friends for the weekend (there are no set ‘weekends out’ so there are always lots of people around during this time) and I tend to go back to Nigeria for the longer holidays. Because there are also day pupils in my House, I sometimes go home with them at weekends as they live locally. Do you know which university you want to go to after finishing at school? I will stay at Strathallan until I go on to university. My dream is to go to either Oxford or Cambridge to study Law or Psychology and I know that I will get all the help I need from Strathallan as they have a great Careers department and everyone goes on to university from here. What’s the best thing about being a boarder and how have you changed? I really love boarding in Scotland as the campus is so beautiful and peaceful; it is a very good safe environment to be in. It is great to be able to try lots of new things as well as improving my English and I would certainly recommend it to everyone. It certainly prepares me for life beyond school. The main change that I have felt since starting Strathallan is not only the improvement in my English, Music and swimming but I have become more independent, focused, organised and my confidence has grown. I love it here!


Role Model

Mrs. Bola Atta Aspire catches up with the CEO of Flair Productions, Mrs. Bola Atta best known for her role as Editor of True Love West Africa since its inception. She is now concentrating on her own magazine Flair West Africa which was launched in May 2010. How was your childhood? Fairly normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. Describe your educational experience? I have a first degree in Economics and an MBA. My educational experience has been very diverse and has spanned 3 continents and 5 countries. How important is getting an international education? It is not so important that one gets an international education. Although, it does make it easier for you to broaden your scope when you have been exposed to various cultures. But there are people who have had international educations who are not as exposed as some who have been educated in just one city throughout their lives. What is extremely important is to be educated. It doesn’t even really matter what you decide to study initially. What is important is that one does goes through the experience of being at a higher learning institution. How do you balance career and domestic duties? I never know how to answer this very clichéd question. Does one ever really learn to balance both? I just take each step at a time and ensure that I plan and use my diary properly. How do you relax and recreate? I like quiet times. I enjoy reading. I like washing dishes because I am able to think peacefully when I am washing dishes and nobody ever comes into the kitchen to talk to you when you are washing dishes for fear of being asked to help out. What does family mean to you? Family is what makes our world go round. You always want to share with them (good and bad times), laugh with them, be around them....Once all is well with you and your family, other challenges are easy to overcome. The biggest challenges in one’s life are often associated with family problems.



How did you get into publishing? I think it might have been accidental but maybe it was meant to be. I always enjoyed reading magazines. I remember at the age of 13 reading Essence magazine and Susan Taylor’s column In The Spirit and thinking one day I would also really like to have a column in a glossy women’s magazine. I was really inspired by her words and would eventually subscribe to the magazine for many years thereafter. I had just left the banking industry after 5 years of wondering if I was on the right path and like a light bulb decided one day I could publish my own magazine. I was 28 years old and started working on publishing my first magazine called Flair magazine. What is your vision for Flair West Africa and how are you fulfilling it each day? My company is now publishing Flair West Africa which has a vision that is a continuation of my vision for True Love West Africa. I hope that it will continue to inspire women all over Africa and the ones in the Diaspora too. We fulfill this everyday by highlighting the amazing things that Africans are doing at home and sometimes, abroad. Someone once asked me a few years ago if I was worried that we would ever run out of content. I answered ‘absolutely not’. How could we ever run out of people doing amazing things everyday? Describe a day in your shoes. I wake up really early. I have always done. I don’t remember the last time I was asleep after 5 am on a weekday. I check my mail to ensure there isn’t anything important to attend to. I sort out my family obligations first and then get to work. I am often in bed by 9pm unless I have been invited out. Do you have any mentors and role models? I have too many to mention and wouldn’t like to leave any out. But I am constantly being inspired by people around me. They are not necessarily high achievers or famous people. What advice do you have for people with an interest in the publishing industry?


You have to be very focused. People will tell you what they think you should be doing or what you should not be doing. Some of them you are able to incorporate but you can’t incorporate every comment or idea into your publication or you begin to lose focus! You have to be patient with your readers. And finally, you can’t do this without the passion. It is the passion that drives most people in editorial. If you decide to do it because of the financial benefits, you probably won’t last very long in the industry. If you were not in publishing, what would you be doing? I am not sure at all. I can’t imagine not doing this right now. But I have been in varying industries: banking, entertainment, television and publishing and I think I will one day want to try something new. What advice in general do you have for the youth? Always look before you leap! Many people in their youths are spontaneous. I was also prone to being spontaneous but often thought carefully about the next step before making the move. What is one thing that not many people know about you? Well I am not really sure what people know about me so this is difficult to answer. Describe your sense of style? Simple and always comfortable. What is your mantra? Don’t be too bothered about what people think of you. That can be really distracting. What are your guiding values in life? Be upright and always fair to people. In one word you are? Uncomplicated. How would you like to be remembered? I don’t know. It’s not something I have ever thought about! Interviewed by Isabella E.C. Akinseye ASPIRE MAGAZINE | June 2010

Career Profile

ENGINEERING By Yemi Akinyugha Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems available, they create their own problems. – Scott Adams


hen you hear the word “engineering�, what image does it evoke in your mind? A man in blue overalls and yellow hat who is constantly fiddling with a tool? Or perhaps a nerdy mathematician with restless fingers? These descriptions represent just half of the story. Engineering is far more than that; it is arguably the principal driving force behind modern lifestyle. Come to think of it; no other profession has revolutionised the world as much as engineering in the last few centuries. Look around you: television, radio, mobile phones, automobiles, the railway system, airplanes and computers. Every one of these innovations were birthed by engineers. What exactly does an engineer do? Engineering is the art and science of contriving, designing, inventing and manipulating matter and energies to create new processes and products. Hence, wherever new products and structures are being designed, an engineer is the brain behind such venture. Perhaps you are most familiar with most traditional engineering disciplines: civil engineering (the study of stationary objects: roads and structures), mechanical engineering (study of materials and fluids in motion), electrical engineering (pertaining to power generation and the working of electronic devices) and chemical engineering (concerned with studying the conversion of chemical raw materials into innovative products). Other ASPIRE MAGAZINE | June 2010

semi-traditional disciplines have also emerged; food engineering, metallurgy and materials engineering, petroleum and mining engineering, environmental engineering and computer/software engineering. However, as with other mainstream disciplines, engineering has caught the bug of cross-disciplinary collaborations and studies. In the 21st century, engineering has broken the boundaries of all stereotypes previously associated with the profession. From the built environment to the virtual environment, engineering and its principles have been applied to solving problems. For instance, it was aforethought that the love of biology is incompatible with the pursuit of engineering as a career. Newer disciplines such as biomedical engineering and genetic engineering has enlisted the help of software engineers to develop algorithms to decode the genetic make-up of carriers of deadly diseases such as malaria. Furthermore, engineers are


involved in the design of artificial limbs for disabled people by modelling the limbs after the principle of locomotion. Engineering has found further applications in popular culture, pastimes and in entertainment. For instance, if you are in love with fast-moving cars and are a fan of Formula 1, then you could be a motorsport engineer. In a similar vein, sound and acoustic engineers are key drivers behind entertainment and showbiz; they specialise in the creative production of sound both the hardware and software production. If you are passionate about climate change, consider being an environmental engineer. Interestingly, an engineering department of a UK university designed the Adidas football to be used in the FIFA 2010 World Cup. That is how diverse engineering is! What skill sets do you need as an engineer? A measure of restlessness? Perhaps! Considering the introductory quote from Scott Adams, we could conclude that continual intellectual restlessness is the basis for all creative innovations, engineering inclusive. But it is not enough to assume that a child's aptitude for fiddling with tools and equipments in the house pre-disposes him/her for a career in engineering. To study the traditional engineering disciplines, a strong background in mathematics and physics is highly recommended. Innovation, creativity and persistence are at the heart of every engineering practice.

They are forever looking for cheaper ways of making quality products. These skill sets position them as potential candidates for top management in firms, which might not necessarily be engineering based. In addition, since engineering skills are universally applicable, it is not uncommon to find sizeable graduates of the revered discipline ending up in the business sector including financial services and management consultancy firms. In essence, the choice of engineering is not limiting but in fact, opens a wide space of infinite possibilities. Interested? If you really want to change the world, then be an engineer! For further information on how to gain entrance into a UK university to study engineering, visit Yemi Akinyugha is a doctoral candidate in Geoenvironmental Engineering at the University of Cambridge. He is passionate about developing young talents to fulfil their potentials. He can be reached through

What is in it for you? Career track of engineers are varied. Most graduates end up practising in engineering design and solutions firms. In the UK, engineering-led companies are estimated to contribute about 40% of GDP. Hence, job opportunities are endless. Due to their costcentred thinking, engineers generally are excellent managers of resources and men. 14


Feature Topic

WHATNEXT? Exams have come and gone...graduation and celebration too... ‘What Next?’ Aspire finds out from its readers and offers some useful advice for those still on the fence on the next step. Parent “Things keep changing when it comes to higher education both abroad and home. Different universities in different countries offer different qualifications at different prices. As parents, it is important we have good and strong relationships with our children in order to guide them in the right direction. There are so many factors that play into choosing the course and school; even after you have weighed all your options, it is good to hear from people who are presently in the system. Praying to God for direction too cannot be overemphasised as university can be make or break!” College Teacher “Explore the options you have. For some international students who under-aged, attending a Sixth Form College might be the best solution as you can do A-Levels over two years and still engage in a healthy variety of curricular activities. It is also a preparation for not just University but life because you are given more responsibility and freedoms.” Graduating student “I am going to take a Gap year to try different things and of course a break from all the studying and exam pressures. I feel going to university is a big decision and should not be rushed into. You have to know what you really want in order to make the most out of the educational experience. Plus it is a big investment, so must be considered wisely.” UK University Admissions Officer “It is better not to leave things to last minute, in


the UK prospective University students already start applying up to a year in advance. The best universities get filled up very quickly. So my advice to international students is to start doing their research during the long holiday of their penultimate year in order not to shortchange themselves. Different universities have different deadlines and accept different qualifications. Start Early!” Aspire Says... If you are still deciding which course and institution might suit you, take the Stamford Test free of charge on the website. It is a short questionnaire which can help to match your interests and abilities to possible higher education subjects. Many students find this helpful when trying to make up their minds. After you have checked your Stamford results, you may also use Centigrade Online ( Centigrade goes into much more detail, matching your interests, study subjects and qualifications to direct you to up to eight course areas. Once you have answered the questionnaire, COA can email the report to you, or post you a detailed bound report with well matched selections. Centigrade costs £20 (£23 overseas) for a full colour printed personal report (approx. 48 pages), or £15 for an emailed report. Consult the professionals at The International Education Consultancy (TIEC). TIEC is a multi-disciplinary consulting company specialising in international education strategy, professional development training facilitation and student recruitment services. Remember to mention Aspire magazine to get a discount.


Visa Advice



n previous editions of Aspire magazine, we have regularly featured up to date information from the UKBA concerning student visas. However, in this edition due to the new government in power in the UK, the current immigration rules are currently being reviewed. Nevertheless, below are relevant and timeless information which would remain the same despite the change of government. Good luck! What are the key things to consider before applying for a student visa?  Make sure you understand both what the visa rules are, and how the visa application process works. This is available on the UK Visas website( We know that many students find it difficult to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds for their stay in the UK. This is very important to get right. It goes without


saying that you should only submit documents that are genuine and verifiable. Make sure you complete the application form as accurately and as clearly as possible. The new application form which was introduced recently should be easier to complete on-line and will enable us to make decisions more easily. Finally, leave plenty of time to get your visa. It's often not very high up the ‘to do’ list when preparing to go to the UK, but if it’s left to the last minute then it can delay things. Although the visa process itself is quick, remember that lots of students tend to want their visas at the same time. In Nigeria, I’d recommend you apply for a student visa at least 8 weeks before the course is due to start, or at least 12 weeks in the busy summer season. The actual processing time for a student visa in Nigeria is currently one week. Guidance to students on how they qualify and what they need to do to get a visa can be found on the UK visas website. Finally, NO visa system in the world is perfect, so if you were unfortunately refused and you believe your application was not adjudged on its merits then you can reapply or exercise your right to appeal!


Feature Interview


BONSU (ex-BBC Presenter)

Tell us a little about yourself? I was born to Ghanaian parents in Manchester. I attended a Catholic Grammar School in Manchester and then went on to Magdalene College (University of Oxford) where I read German/French Language and Literature. After my degree, I took an apprenticeship job at a local newspaper; this paved the way for me to get a trainee job at the BBC. After that, I worked on a BBC Radio 4 programme and then Black Britain. I did a lot of news and current affairs programme—most of my career has been in broadcasting. I am now a co-owner of a radio station (Colourful Radio). In short, I can humbly say I have been blessed! Did you take part in extra-curricula activities at Oxford? I didn’t really do a great deal in terms of extracurricula. I joined the Afro-caribbean Society but that was more by default! Although I was confident in myself, I avoided things that were too formal and chose to hang out with people that were ‘like minded’. That was a mistake and I should have been more ambitious socially. Young black students generally have a Dilemma between what they are passionate about and what their parents want them to do you deal with this? Oh I know what you mean—my parents wanted me to be a doctor (they always saw me as the doctor in the family). Despite what my parents wanted I knew I was stronger in particular subjects especially the arts and wasn’t strong in the sciences. My parents were not happy at first with my decision to read


languages at university but when they heard I was going to Oxford they were ok in the end. I think the real issue is knowing what is available career-wise. We need to use the power of information and what is available. Success very often takes time and it is important to bear this in mind. It is important to take the time one needs to succeed in that particular industry or field. Unfortunately, the problem is that many of us (blacks) always look for the shortcuts. We have to be able to take the long term view that there are certain other professions out there but the route is a bit longer but when you get there you stay there a lot longer. This is why most black people perhaps are not seen in some fields and key professions. Who were your role models? Whao! Quite a few—Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King and so on. But I think to a large extent my parents had a great influence on me. They taught me that there are certain things I will do in life and will succeed in—even if I have been a fool there are certain things I wouldn’t do and this is to my parents’


credit. I still hear that ‘Ashanti’ voice even at this age. In the world of sports – Sebastian Cole, Carl Lewis (they inspired me because they were student athletes) and also in the world of e n t e r t a i n m e n t , p e o p l e l i k e D av i d Attenborough. What is a typical day for you? I get up around 5:15 am. I head off to the studio afterwards. I will have a chat with the team about the big stories of the day. I then host the morning show from 7am until 10am on Colourful Radio. After the breakfast show I sometimes do some writing for some of the major dailies in the country such as The Times, The Guardian and others) and I then head off to a few meetings; raising funds for the radio station and generating adverts ( we made a decision to be self-funded and not rely on grants). In the evening, I might be in Parliament (Westminster) for a function and usually get home around 9pm and 9.30pm. It’s


fantastic but a very full agenda. How do you socialise? I am a very sociable person, so I like to go out to functions and I like travelling a lot. Thankfully, my job affords me that opportunity to travel round the world. I like food A LOT especially Indian and South East Asian cuisine. I am very athletic so still visit the gym three times a week. I am a Manchester United Fan. Fashion: you won’t be caught wearing? Primark! No just joking. I am flexible; I don’t think it is about what you wear and more about how you wear it. Last word on your epithet? Here lies Bonsu...he did his best and his best was good.... By Gbenga Ogunbode and Isabella E.C. Akinseye


Feature Uni



he University of St Andrews was founded between 1410 and 1413 and is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. The University is situated in the town of St Andrews, in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. In 2009, The Guardian ranked the university third best within the UK, after Oxford and Cambridge, and it is regarded as one of the most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom. It was ranked first in student satisfaction. Diversity The University of St Andrews welcomes students from around the world. Approximately 20% of our student body is from overseas with some 1,000 undergraduates representing more than 75 different nationalities. At St Andrews there are students from almost every region of Europe and North America. Others arrive from Japan, Taiwan, China, Australia, Malaysia, Africa, India, the West Indies ... the list goes on. Exchange Programmes Emory University in Atlanta runs an exchange programme with St Andrews called the Bobby Jones Scholars programme, which allows for recent graduates of both universities to study at the other university. The Robert Lincoln


McNeil Scholarship is run in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania and students are routinely sent to Berkeley, UCLA, and UCSD. The School of International Relations and the School of Modern Languages also oversee an undergraduate student exchange with The Sorbonne Paris. Qualifications The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Fr a m ewo r k ( S C Q F ) i s b r i n g i n g a l l qualifications in Scotland together in a unified framework of credits and levels. Honours degrees are at SCQF level 10, degrees without Honours are at level 9, HND and Diploma in HE are at level 8 and HNC and Certificate in HE are at level 7. For further information, see Famous Facts St. Andrews was the first university to enrol women (1862), the first to have a student union and the first to have a marine laboratory (1882). Amongst its famous graduates have been the 15th-16th century poets William Dunbar and Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (1612 – 50), and John Napier of Merchiston (1550 – 1617) the inventor of logarithms. One of its Principals, Sir David Brewster (1781 – 1868), invented the kaleidoscope in 1817 and went on to play an important part in the development of


photography. Prince William and ex British Prime Minister Gordon Brown also studied at St Andrew University. Thinking about applying? Interviews Not generally required, except for medicine. English language requirements All applicants to the University whose native language is not English must either obtain a satisfactory score in a recognised test of English language competence or produce other proof of English language proficiency as a condition of entry. S t u d e n t s w h o s e p r e s e n t l a n g u a ge qualifications do not completely satisfy the General Entrance Requirements of the University may be asked to attend a four-week pre-sessional course in English and Study Skills. This course is designed for all overseas graduating and non-graduating students whose mother tongue is not English. All such students


are recommended to attend this course to make the best start to their studies at St Andrews. The course lasts four weeks between August and September. Foundation Programme The University offers Foundation programmes f o r s t u d e n t s w h o s e s c h o o l - l e av i n g qualifications do not meet the minimum General Entrance Requirements or whose English language proficiency may not yet have reached a suitable standard for degree level study. Student Recruitment and Admissions t: 01334 462150 f: 01334 463330 e: w: University of St Andrews St Katharine’s West 16 The Scores St Andrews Fife KY16 9AX



International Conference of Nigerian Students (ICONS) 2010 By Olugbenga Ogunbode


he 4TH International Conference of Nigerian Students (ICONS) was hosted by the University of Kent on its Canterbury campus on the weekend of 17–18 April, 2010 with over 200 Nigerian students in attendance from across the UK. The conference was organised by Xn Foundation whose founder Akanimo Odon was the recipient of the British Council International Student of the Year in 2006. The organisers have a number of objectives for the ICONS initiative, but the key objective is to create a forum where Nigerian international students in the UK can meet every year to discuss their roles as ambassadors and change agents for the present and the future. The distinguished speakers and guests included: the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Councillor Dr. Harry Cragg, Dr. Mustpaha Betara Aliyu, the Minister for Welfare from the Nigerian High Commissioner’s Office, Dr. Mark Abani of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Chairman, Central Association of Nigerians in the UK (CANUK), and Dr. Anthony Ward, Master of Keynes College. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Networking for Development’. Student delegates attended to discuss their experiences in the UK, to network, and to explore careers opportunities and ‘the next step’.


The annual ICONS awards were presented to delegates for their achievements and contributions to the conference. And the evening continued with entertainment provided by the delegates and a London-based Nigerian DJ. One of the delegates summed up the event perfectly: “This was a fantastic event and I am heading back to my university really blessed to have rubbed minds and shared ideas with many young Nigerians...I am confident that the future is bright.” Sue Hopkinson, Senior International Officer, said, “We are delighted to have hosted ICONS 2010 at Kent, and that the event was a success with the largest number of delegates in the event’s history so far!” TIEC was one of the sponsors of ICONS 2010.


Event Review

Let’s Talk


Let’s Talk Africa’ was conceived due to the increasing number of African students acquiring excellent quality education overseas and in light of the global economic climate that is forcing many overseas graduates to consider returning home to contribute to the development of Africa. The event was organised by The International Education Consultancy (TIEC) in collaboration with Cambridge University Nigeria Society and held on May 1, 2010 at the Cambridge Union with a hundred students from all over the UK in attendance. The event kicked off formally at noon with Henry Bonsu, former BBC presenter and co owner of Colourful Radio, who gave the opening address in his capacity as chair of the day. The first speaker Dr Adesina Iluyemi (Executive Secretary, New Partnership for Africa Development NEPAD Council) talked about the investment opportunities in the health sector of Africa. This was followed by Cambridge alumni, Osamede Okhomina, CEO of Energy Equity Resources whose speech was broken into three philosophical acts that challenged the student delegates to think well about their motives for returning home and consider its challenges carefully. Mr. Onche Ugbabe, Chief Strategy Officer of ASPIRE MAGAZINE | June 2010

First Bank Nigeria Plc was the last speaker to address the delegates before lunch; he made a good presentation on the nature of the banking sector in Africa using First Bank as a case study. In between each speaker’s address, students were allowed to pose questions to the panelists. And this continued over lunch where the delegates were also able to network and get advice from representatives at the Careers in Africa stand. The afternoon session was opened by Tommy Garnett, Director of Environmental Foundation for Africa who made a case for ‘Sustainable Development in Africa’ using his country of birth, Sierra Leone as case study. This was followed by a presentation from Jesse Ndika, Business Development Director of Careers in Africa about how students could participate in their upcoming three day


conference in London where they would have the chance to meet potential employers and in some cases be offered jobs on the spot. The final speaker of the day was Martin Woolnough, Managing Director and CEO of Nestle Nigeria & Ghana who gave six good reasons for people to return home to work showing the role of the manufacturing industry as pivotal to economic progress. He listed three things as key for a successful career, “Skills, knowledge and attitude.” For an hour, questions were taken from the audience which covered a wide range of issues from funding to deciding when is right to return home. The day ended with a Vote of Thanks given by Mr. Olugbenga Ogunbode, CEO of TIEC who thanked all the participants, apologised on behalf of Ms. Pratibha Thaker, Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit's Africa department (part of the Economist Magazine) who was unable to make it due to the ‘Ash’ situation and wished


everyone success in their pursuits. ‘Let’s Talk Africa’ was sponsored by Nestle Nigeria and EER and supported by Careers in Africa, BBC Focus on Africa, First Bank and the British Council. 234 Next and Business day were the media sponsors.


Where Are They Now? Aspire catches up with former TIEC student and Aspire Cover Girl (June 2009). Name: Yetade Ayileka Age: 18 Current Course: Computer Systems Engineering with Management Year: 1 Current School: University of Sheffield Secondary school/college attended: Olashore International School Nigeria; Abbey College Cambridge (A-Levels)

What was the main reason you decided to study in the UK? I decided to come and study in the UK because it offers world class post-secondary education in my chosen field of study. How have you found the University of Sheffield? The University has been amazing! My department, Automatic Control and Systems Engineering is the largest of its kind in the UK and its teaching and research ratings are the best possible. Outside academics though, the university community is the best you could ever ask for. Our Student Union has been ranked number one in the UK and there are a lot of societies/clubs available for students to join. The facilities at the university are top of the range; from our sporting facilities to our state-of-the-art library which is open 24 hours. There are


also numerous support systems in place to help new students settle into university life. Have you or are you planning to work during the holidays? At the moment, I am applying for summer placements, both here in the UK and back at home in Nigeria. That way, I would be occupied over summer and I would also be gaining experience in a field relevant to my course. What do you plan to do when you graduate? On completing my course, I would have developed skills to help me succeed in the workplace as an individual and also as part of a team. Armed with my degree and these skills, I hope to secure a job working in the transport sector. What has been your greatest educational achievement till date?

My greatest academic achievement till date has been receiving the University of Sheffield Undergraduate Merit Scholarship 2009. A scholarship based purely on academic merit and which was applied for by loads of other students as well. How are you finding the course? The course is great. The lectures are insightful and group projects are fun. In addition to lectures and labs, tutorials are also available where students get help in solving exercises. The course requires a lot of research to be done outside lectures because The content in class is just the foundation. Describe your accommodation. I live in university accommodation. It an ensuite room in a flat for six people. It is on the University city and central campus which means that my lectures are only about 5 minutes away!


The student community usually organises activities such as sports days, free film nights, ice skating trips, comedy nights and so on. These are great ways to meet people and make new friends. Do you engage in any extracurricular activity? I am involved in a number of extracurricular activities; I am a member of Sheffield SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise), a society that aims to use students entrepreneurial and volunteering spirit to make a difference in the community through social and commercial projects. I am also a member of United Nations Youth and


Student Association (UNYSA) Sheffield, a student branch of the United Nation Association UK. In addition to these, I am a member of the University of Sheffield Women Football Club and Sheffield Volunteering which provides volunteering opportunities for students who wish to volunteer. How would you describe your experience with TIEC? TIEC has been amazing! They have been very helpful. When I first arrived in Cambridge for my A-levels, I was shown around and given really good advice about student life and life in Cambridge generally. They

are very friendly and make you feel very much at home! What will be your advice to other students who are thinking about studying in the UK? Studying in the UK is a rewarding experience as you get first-class education and you also get the opportunity to meet loads of people from different backgrounds. It’s not much different from home, so settling in won’t be hard...however if you can’t settle in easily, there’s always someone to help from TIEC, your school and even the Nigerians around you! Interviewed by Isabella E.C. Akinseye


Young Exec

Otoide AYEMERE Aspire catches up with this young but mighty Exec who has designed websites for the crème de la crème of Nigeria from artists to multinationals, meet Otoide Ayemere of 2digits. What is 2digits about? 2digits is a Technology outfit that specialises in website and windows software development. It’s powered by youthful creative thinking. Details of the company services and portfolio can be found on Tell us about your educational background. For primary education I had a brief stint at Greensprings School then moved on to St. Gloria. My secondary school days were spent in Maryland Comprehensive Secondary School. Right after secondary school while trying to figure out what to do with myself I started a short computer course at APTECH and that changed my whole perception of the future. I had to make the most interesting and defining decision of my life. It was UNILAG vs Sikkim Manipal University, India (a distance learning course offered through APTECH). I eventually chose Sikkim Manipal. For me UNILAG just wasn’t an option but at the time everyone wanted me to go to a conventional university. I figured if Final Year students came to me


(while I was still doing a short APTECH course) for help on their project, then there must be something wrong. Technology changes fast every day and they were not updating their curriculum. Sikkim Manipal offered me the opportunity to learn all the current technology trends hands on. It was world class practical training all the way. I graduated with a B Sc. in Applied Information Technology. I’m now looking forward to taking a Masters program most likely in the UK. Share with us some of your greatest achievements? The greatest so far has been sustaining 2digits and placing it as an elite brand among other website development companies. The quality of our work has attracted big clients and it can only get better. What are some of the challenges you face? There are a few limiting factors to business in Nigeria we just have to get used to e.g. erratic power supply and the low speed internet access. There have been a few client payment

issues, but generally I’ve been blessed to work with great people. Notable people that have eased my growth include Obi Asika (Storm 360) and Remi Ogunpitan (IBST). What do you enjoy most about being in charge? Well, the fact that I am in control of my time and I can make plans without looking over my shoulders at what a “Boss” thinks. What advice do you have for young execs out there or people who want to set up a business or company? It’s going to be hard. It requires a lot of work, but it’s the way to go! If you have a business idea, do something about it. No matter how small, just START! I don’t think anyone has ever regretted being an entrepreneur. What is your mantra? Hard work + Prayer. Interviewed by Isabella E.C. Akinseye


Reviews Oyindamola Olofinlua, an English Literature student of Obafemi Awolowo University shares his top picks of the season.

MOVIE 2012

2012 is a movie about the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans. The predicted date is December 21, 2012, a date almost coincidental with the winter solstices sunan event that has been anticipated for thousands of years. Definitely, something tragically dramatic will happen but will not cause the world's end. The movie researchers and producers only exaggerated the Mayan predictions. The end of the Mayan calendar is not the end of the world!








“Run this town” stars Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West. The video contains occult symbols relating to secret societies which has strengthened the rumour that Jay-Z belongs to a secret society, probably Freemasonry. Performing in front of an angry mob that is out to overthrow the current order of things, Kanye and Jay-Z flaunt their wealth through their rap. Despite appearing like Che Guevara, they are in no way revolutionary!

So loving is the god, Zeus, the creator of humans that he comes down in the form of man to mate with an earthly queen. This union begets a son, Persius. Humans, at this time, no longer believed and prayed to their creator. Persius will eventually fill the gap of hatred that has crept into the hearts of humans but he has to admit that he is a demiGod before confronting the evil that will send humans into total damnation.

Walker’s is a nexus which touches on various aspects of human existence. Presenting the Mundos as the ideal, it gives a backing to Sigmund Freud’s postulation that human problems originate from the suppression of sexual desires. It depicts how hypocritical religion could be and reveals the roles the dead could play in the activities of the living. Above all, everything is given under the umbrella of feminism.



Entertainment TRIBUTE: DAGRIN (1983-2010) He didn’t just have rhymes that made us laugh; they also made us think deeply. It wasn’t just the attitude with which he delivered his lines; he also radiated so much humility. Maybe it was his ingenuity, and the determination with which this young man crawled out of obscurity into the limelight that warmed his way into our hearts. He was there, we didn’t even know it. Maybe he didn’t imagine it either. When the news first broke about his accident on the 14th of April, Twitter was filled with #prayfordagrin. Pray we did. Fate had a different plan. Eight days later, there it was on Twitter again, ‘is it true that Dagrin is dead?’ and others debunking the ‘rumor’. Then, the radio confirmed it. And Twitter went crazy with #RIPDAGRIN. For days, that was all people twitted; his life,

his lyrics. Facebook and Twitter users had his picture as their avatar. A star had fallen, never to rise again, but his memory lives on in the hearts of a multitude. He touched our souls. The 26 year old Nigerian rapper whose real name is Olaitan Olaonipekun Oladapo, had two albums to his name ‘Still on the Matter’ and ‘C.E.O’ before he met his early demise. His most popular hits include ‘Pon Pon Pon’ and ‘Kondo’. A posthumous release of one of his last tracks ‘If I Die’ got fans wondering if he had a premonition of his death as his lyrics said ‘if I die, make you no cry for me…’ Cry we all did.

Fashion Your One Stop Fashion Guide is proving to be the modern woman’s ‘Everything Fashion’ guide. The website provides fashion and beauty tips from an African perspective without failing to keep you abreast of global fashion. SHF tells you what’s hot and what’s not in fashion and if you are a ‘sales’ freak, it goes a step further by telling you where you can get your local designers favourite pieces on sale. SHF is, in its own


“Four years ago, the World Cup altered many people's perception of Germany. This time, people will be surprised by Africa's remarkable progress and good spirits – and hopefully, its football teams.” – Koffi Annan All roads lead to South Africa for the 19th FIFA World Cup. This is the very first time Africa will play host to the premier international football tournament. This edition of the World Cup is scheduled to take place between 11 June and 11 July 2010. Nigeria is in the group ‘B’, along with Argentina, Korea Republic and Greece. The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be facing the Argentine team on the 12th of June in the Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg. The last edition of the World Cup was hosted by Germany and won by Italy, who defeated France to claim their fourth World Cup title. The world waits to see if the defending champions can perform the feat a fifth time or if host country South Africa will show them who rules the land!

Style House words, ‘where fashion insiders and readers can voice their true opinions on fashion’s hottest debates: you hated that SS2010 collection? We did too!’ An honest fashion site; refreshing! Bringing you a weekly dose of fashion ranging from styling tips, to shopping and make up tips, interviews and reviews, Style House Files protects you from making fashion faux pas.

Compiled by Rayo


Cover Interview


CHIGBO Aspire meets Britain’s Obama, Tom Chigbo who is just rounding off his term as the first black President of the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU).

What made you decide to run for President? I’ve really enjoyed my time at Cambridge and wanted to help other students to have as wonderful an experience as I have had. During my year as JCR President at St John’s College I began to appreciate the importance of students working together to solve problems and campaign for change. The opportunity to support students from all colleges in doing this was really appealing. Share with us a typical day in the President’s shoes. There’s no such thing as a typical day really! My time is mostly divided between University representation, supporting JCR/MCRs (College student associations), working on policy, organising events and promoting the work of CUSU to students. Over the course of a week I might have scheduled meetings with University staff and academics, like Senior Tutors or the Vice Chancellor, as well as meetings with other individuals and groups of students, like JCR/MCR Presidents. Alongside this, I will work with the other officers to research issues affecting students and develop campaigns or policy proposals for the university to consider. Sometimes this will require high profile public events and media interest, sometimes it will require more targeted lobbying behind the scenes. This job throws up all sorts of things. A single day at work might include a two hour meeting of University Council, an interview for


BBC radio, giving a talk to secondary school students, meeting JCR and MCR Presidents, writing a paper to present to a University and dealing with anything that arises in the course of the day. How has the experience been so far? It’s been incredibly exciting! I’ve not been bored once. I’ve enjoyed helping students to realise how much power they have and work out ways for them to improve their experience at University. The whole team has put in ridiculous hours but we’ve also had the privilege of convincing an 800 year old institution that it can change and evolve to provide an even better experience for students. The experience has reaffirmed my faith in collectivism and politics generally. It’s clear from our achievements this year and the positive effect that the student union has had on the lives of students that, in all communities, people are stronger when they work together and play an active role in decision making.


Have you been able to use your Geography degree on the job? Although I rarely need to bring up the complexities of Indian politics or discuss Victorian attitudes to sex work (as I did in my Geography finals), I reckon that my degree has given me plenty of useful skills, which I’ve used on the job. Most important has been the ability to present an argument in a convincing and clear fashion. During my degree, I had to do this every time I wrote an essay or had a supervision. Now, I apply the same skills when making a speech at CUSU Council or writing a policy proposal for a University Committee. As a human geographer, I also had to spend a lot of time reading and quickly working out what was important from the text. I still need to do this in order to stay on top of the immense load of paperwork and information that I receive every week before meetings. What would you consider as your greatest achievement on the job? Our University refuses to directly fund the activities of CUSU (most universities give their students’ union a block grant of hundreds of thousands of pounds) and we started the year faced with some very difficult choices about what we could afford to do in future. This year we have completely turned this situation around and have successfully convinced the University to pay us £50,000 so we can set up a brand new Student Advice Service. CUSU has campaigned for this for at least a decade, and the Student Advice Service has consistently been recognised as the Students’ Union’s number one priority. The Student Advice Service will open next year and will allow all students to benefit from free, impartial, non judgmental support from a full-time professional caseworker for the first time ever in Cambridge. This will provide students with much needed support and advice on a wide range of welfare and academic concerns, from disability and drugs, to exam appeals and eating disorders. This is without a doubt, one of the greatest achievements that CUSU has ever made. What





challenges you’ve had to overcome? Cambridge is a very decentralised university, so making any change often requires agreement and cooperation from several different parts, rather than just convincing one person or institution. It can sometimes be difficult to get all these different stakeholders to work together towards a common goal rather than promoting their own interests. What advice do you have for your successor and students in general? I would advise my successor to spend as much time as possible speaking to students. It can sometimes be difficult to get away from the office at busy times, but it is important to stay connected with what students are talking about day to day. I would encourage students to take every opportunity to get involved in shaping their university experience, whether through their JCR/MCR, clubs and societies or CUSU. Although life in Cambridge is great, we should always challenge the university to improve the way it teaches and supports students. If you were Prime Minister for one day, what would you do? I would take action to reduce inequality between rich and poor, such as raising taxes on high earners, building lots of new council houses and abolishing private education. Do you ever go home to Nigeria? Unfortunately not, however I am planning to go at some stage in the next year. What do you do for fun? I’m a big football fan and enjoy watching films with my housemates and keeping up to date with the news. I also like travelling and listening to music. What are your plans for the future? I’m not really sure about what I will do next year. Hopefully it will be something that involves helping people realise their potential or making our communities fairer and more sustainable.



Away From Home Mega Ofodum, an alumni of Greensprings School, Lagos talks about his experience of boarding house at Wycliffe College.


y name is Mega Ofodum. I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. After my secondary education, I decided that I wanted to further my education in an area with a wider range of facilities and technological advancement, which is why I chose to come and school in England. I began searching for sixth form schools but as I applied late, I was turned down most times. I came to Wycliffe College and I was accepted without any problems. I quickly adapted to my surroundings and began participating in some of the many activities available in the school. For example, I sing in the bass section of the school choir. The students are a mix of international and British citizens. All of whom are very warm and welcoming. The beautiful grounds and modernized buildings give the college a bright and eco-friendly look. Being in such a comfortable place I was able to be myself and grow physically and mentally. This helped me to achieve things I never thought I would have in the past. I am currently in the upper sixth form and I have roles of responsibility such as being a school prefect as well as the head of my boarding house. The opportunities here for sports are remarkable as you could be in the school team even if you are not the best. Even though I have only played rugby for one year I now have a position in the school's rugby team. The sports facilities in the school give you the chance to improve your fitness and ensure you remain healthy while giving you the opportunity to take part in big competitions. I aspire to become a


pharmacist in the future so as to improve health care in Nigeria. The subjects I am studying are Biology, Physics and Chemistry. As challenging as these subjects are, the support given by the staff of Wycliffe College make it easier as they provide a safe and organised environment for learning. Teachers are always available and pay special attention to each student to ensure everyone understands the topic. I benefited from this when I missed 6 weeks of school and with their support, I was able to catch up with my studies. I believe schooling in the UK has opened a lot of doors for my future and Wycliffe has played a big role in ensuring I have the best education that is available.


Travel Column


BUY Pick up textiles and handicrafts at Watt market


BED TIME Recommended hotels include The Mirage ( Plot 230, Mcc road Calabar, +234 80372 26046) and Metropolitan Hotel at Murtala Mohammed Highway (+234 80669 00009). 25 km from the airport, Tinapa Business Resort offers a host of facilities and activities (+234 87232300,


BON APPETIT Food from Calabar is renowned. Sublime suya is served up at Bogobiri corner. More formal diners can head to Freddy’s for Lebanese (Freddy’s, 90 Aketong Drive, 087/232 821). If you’re a fan of bars with kitsch names, have a post-prandial boogie around Nelson Mandela Street at La Luna, Paradise City and Tuxedo Junction.


or delve in to a local experience at Marian wet market.


BEHOLD Since the colonial era and crowning of King Archibong III by Queen Victoria in 1878; the 16th century port city has been a society holiday destination. Explore colonial architecture around Henshaw and Duke Town including the governor’s residence, Mary Slessor Residence and the Calabar Museum. Nature enthusiasts spare the time to travel to Agbokim Waterfalls surrounded by lush green valleys and near to the Afi Wildlife Sanctuary, Refome Lake and Kwa Rapids. For wildlife, visit the Drill Monkey Rehab Centre ( ywfakn) and Cercopan primate rehabilitation centre ( ywfakn) and Cercopan primate rehabilitation centre (


HIP TIP Every December 26th, Calabar comes alive for the week-long carnival featuring parties, parades and a load of fringe activities Arik Air operates regular flights to destinations all over Africa, London and New York. For more information, visit -Source: Wings, the inflight magazine of Arik Air.



Books Study Lecturer Graduate Hostels Professor Scholar Research Examination JOKES “What is Pi?” A mathematician: “Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.” A computer programmer: “Pi is 3.141592653589 in double precision.” A physicist: “Pi is 3.14159 plus or minus 0.000005.” An engineer: “Pi is about 22/7.” A nutritionist: “Pie is a healthy and delicious dessert!”

Quirky ANIMAL Facts An ostrich’s eye is bigger that its brain. An iguana can stay under water for twenty-eight minutes. A cat has 32 muscles in each ear. The animal with the largest brain in relation to its body is the ant. The largest eggs in the world are laid by a shark. Crocodiles swallow stones to help them dive deeper. Sharks are immune to cancer.


RIDDLES Which weighs more? A pound of gold or a pound of feathers? Both weigh the same. If you take three apples from five apples, how many do you have? You have three apples. If there were 9 cats on a bridge and one jumped over the edge, how many would be left? None – they are copycats. How many times can you subtract 6 from 30? Once; after that it is no longer 30 (Don’t try this in a test!). How do you tell one bathroom full of statisticians from another? Check the p-value.


Q&A I am a bit nervous about University interviews. How do you prepare for an interview for a subject that you haven’t studied before? What should you wear? How do you reply trick questions? Should you ask questions when given the chance or is that also a trap? First of all it is understandable for you to be nervous. A bit of nerves is actually good as it keeps you alert and gets the adrenaline pumping! The key is to channel this nervous energy properly and not let it blow out of proportion thereby affecting your performance. It is important to READ about your subject of interest. Interviewers want to know that you have a real passion and commitment to your


subject because you’ll be studying it for at least 3 years. When deciding what to read, don’t fall into the temptation of skimming Wikipedia and surfing random sites that come up on a google search. Go to the library and read proper books, academic and professional journals and of course the newspapers. Read stuff that really interest you, that way you'll be able to talk confidently during your interview. Dress comfortably. Moderation should be your guide. So please leave out the torn raggedy jeans and stiletto heels. For questions that you think are there to catch you out. Take your time before answering to think out your answer properly. If there is something you don't understand in the question, ask the interviewer. It is better to

be truthful and learn. Most interviewers are more interested in your thought process as well as how you are able to cope under pressure. Don't lose your cool over one question. Ask only necessary questions. Say you read something in the prospectus about the course and you wanted to get more details, that is fine. But don’t ask obvious questions; it only shows that you didn’t do any prior research. Finally, look at the interview as a conversation. Don’t sweat it and remember to have some water before so you are properly hydrated. Do you have a burning question about anything to do with education and schooling? Email


St. Andrews College Cambridge University of Nottingham Newcastle College Padworth College Cambridge Tutors College The American School in England (TASIS) Abbey DLD Group of Colleges (Birmingham, Cambridge, London, Manchester) Cambridge Seminars Tutorial College Wrekin College ICWS Swansea Strathallan Kings College London Berlin Brandenburg International School Wellington College Ellesmere

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Lessons From a Search By Mafoya


can’t remember when I decided that a Masters abroad would make sense but I can remember why. The education system in Nigeria was falling apart. Union strikes. Student protests. I spent five years for a degree in Literature-in-English. Inaccessible resources, we relied on photocopies most times. Irrelevant curriculum, how would you explain a degree in English without a course in Creative Writing? We spent many months locked out of class; even when in class, the relevance of the courses to contemporary life was questionable. For many months, I dreamt. In some of my dreams, I was the black girl in a white class getting a ‘white’ education. It could be anywhere: Cambridge, Yale, Harvard or somewhere in the world of a fictive character. I fed on dreams. Dreams kept my sanity. I returned to school after the unexpected breaks; I pushed myself into studies; I worked hard. Personally, I strive for success in all I do. After getting my degree, I decided to bring my dreams to life. It was almost inevitable. I wanted to be a writer. I felt I needed to study Creative Writing. There was no Nigerian University offering the course at the Masters level. So, it was just simple calculation, I'd to travel out. For a minute, online classes didn't exist to me. I'm currently on my MA programme in University of Lagos. I'm not getting a 'White' education but I'm living my dream of being a writer, day after day. Maybe I didn't need a White education to achieve it. I also learnt my lessons. 1st lesson: the class of your degree may not open the door but your cash sure would. In my search, I was discouraged when I saw the thousands of pounds called tuition fees. It looked as if the universities ran on fees paid by international students. That was also the first time; I became so conscious of the burden of being a Nigerian. There it was on a particular university admissions page “Nigerians are requested to pay a down payment of $ extra because of visa issues.” Do I have a problem with that? Yes, why do I have to pay more simply because I am Nigerian? When money becomes a barrier to smart students who can’t pay for an education through their noses, it’s an issue! I forget, there are scholarships to cushion the effects, but maybe like me, you will get tired of sending emails about applications that almost never get any response. 2nd lesson: you may need to take a Language Test Exam. That was another thing I had to deal with. I found it hard to wrap my head around the fact that someone thinks that I need a language exam before I


gain admission. It is understandable for students who had previous education in other languages. I guess from the application stage, it’s clear whether or not I understand English. The language test bridge sort of says rather silently, “A second speaker of English needs a test to verify how much they can speak English.” It doesn’t really matter if my first degree is in English. And I forget all that comes with the exams: the fees and the classes. 3rd Lesson: Google may not be your friend. I started searching online for universities with courses in Creative Writing. I googled; checked online; visited university websites; checked requirements; collated on a Notepad before transferring to a Word Document so I could read offline. I didn’t have access to the internet 24/7. I studied the requirements. There are a thousand and one universities with different scholarships for the same programme you want to study. And my dear, there are a thousand and one other international students like you craving a ‘White’ education, so you need to do more than google. All it does to you after all the applications is clog your email with university newsletters and your box with university brochures. 4th Lesson: Take your search offline. Attend the university fairs in your country. You also pay some money for that most times. Maximise your money; ask questions and request for their brochures. Find a university representative around you. Visit their office and speak to them. Most times, they will tell you the truth about the situation. It was at one of such meetings that a young lady looked me in the face and said, “My dear, it’s very hard to get a scholarship. If you don’t have a sponsor, a full scholarship is almost impossible.” Something gave way in me that day. I told myself, ‘maybe a White education is not the end.’ After then, I decided to use the resources at hand to give myself an education. Call it defeatist if you like but it has worked for me! I went online. I read writers I loved. I attended writers’ workshops in Nigeria. I put my heart to every single thing taught. I practised. A ‘White’ education may open some doors for you but trust me, it’s not as important as it seems. What truly matters is what you make of the opportunities around you. And trust me opportunities abound everywhere; just open your eyes. For those who still dream of a white education, good luck! Do you have a burning issue you are dying to discuss or maybe you are cartoonist or poet. The best piece will be printed and will win a CASH prize. Email This is Your Space, so use it!


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Aspire Magazine Issue 1  

Launched in June 2008, Aspire magazine is the termly education publication of TIEC (The International Education Consultancy). It provides up...

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