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Meet the Nigerian PhD candidate and academic trail blazer at Aston university – Uzoamaka Nduka


Uzoamaka Nduka on Richmond Okezie career session

Amaka was my guest this Sunday, 26 July on episode 2 of the Instagram Live Career Session and we talked about a lot, her journey, scholarships, studying abroad, and more. As someone I have known for years, she embodies consistency, diligence and excellence. I am positive she is headed to great places in the world, proving to young Nigerian and African girls that their dreams are valid and achievable. What follows is a dive into her story.


Background.

Amaka and I attended University of Port Harcourt and studied Economics, but I was class 08 while she was class 09. Although we were not close during our time in school, but we became very close after school, while we both tried to figure out live and career respectively. We have been great friends since. Fondly called the Scholarship baby, because not only did she study from bachelor’s to PhD level with scholarships, she made a 1st class in Economics from the University of Port Harcourt and a distinction in Economics and Econometrics from University of Nottingham.


Undergraduate days.

It all started in 2009 when 17years old Amaka took part in the CBN 50th Anniversary Scholarship Essay competition and won for the entire South South region, granting her the scholarship to study for her undergraduate degree in Economics. She reckoned how proud she was about this feat and determined that her bachelor’s degree was either going to be a first class or nothing. Her father reminded her daily too, how easy a 1st Class is going to make her life, and this further pushed her. Thus, from her first day in the University, she hit the ground running, studying a minimum of 3hours daily, covering the syllabus before exam and going the extra mile.

This part of the story is critical because academic excellence comes by brute smart work, and nothing less.

Postgraduate days.

After her bachelor’s degree, Amaka already had an idea of what kind of career she wanted, one in international development organizations, and such a career requires hard work, smart work, and some more hard work given their competitiveness – everyone wants to work for World Bank and World Trade Organization, but not everyone wants to get a PhD first. Amaka noted that she knew such jobs had high requirements, the minimum in most cases being a master’s degree and a few years of experience, and in other cases, a PhD is required. This led her to start applying for master’s scholarships abroad, another uphill task. She first got her transcripts, sat for TOFEL and GRE during her National Youth Service, and ensured her documents were intact. Then came the painstaking process of searching through various scholarship boards, days after days, school after school, for months. Then she eventually secured a place of study in Nottingham University master’s in economics and econometrics in 2016. But check this, the deadline for the Developing Solutions Scholarship was same day she got the admission offer, so she literally made the scholarship application on the last day, and it was successful. Amaka graduated with a distinction a year after and followed it up with the Aston Prized Fund Scholarship for her PhD study. Amaka is presently in the third and last year of her PhD study.


The future.

In the long term, Amaka still has her eyes on the career she dreamed of years ago, something on the lines of economic policy with international development organizations. In the short term, she thinks it is in order to follow her PhD up with a postdoctoral fellowship and conduct more research to make her overall grounded in different areas of economics. She also has her eyes on academia.

Amaka hopes to influence young girls in Nigeria and Africa to pursue academic excellence, take advantage of opportunities all over the globe to build world-changing careers. She plans to regularly visit Nigeria to set this in motion.


Side note

Amaka earns side income freelancing. She started freelancing in 2015 in Nigeria, after learning of it from a friend. She signed up to the major platforms like Upwork, Freelancer.com and Fiverr and eventually become conversant with Freelancer.com. Here, she made considerable side income, doing different jobs, from customer service, to academic writing. This is how she financially sustained herself through her master’s application period. She still freelancing till date, but focuses on econometric modelling, as it pays more, and she happens to be good at it.

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