Isioma Osubor: Wunderkind with passion for a better world  heads for MIT

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  • Miss Isioma Osubor

 BY CHUKWUDI ABIANDU

“Good people, Great Nation!” When late Prof. (Mrs.) Dora Akunyili, former NAFDAC sensation and later Nigeria’s information minister came up with the foregoing cute rebranding slogan for the nation, not many Nigerians bought into her vision of a country with good people that make up a great nation.

Yet, Dora was unperturbed by the attitude of cynics, and went ahead to do a national launch of the slogan, because she truly believed in the inherent potential that God has vested in Nigeria, in terms of human and material resources.  At the launch that was chaired by former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, Dora said: “With the rebranding, it is hoped that Nigerians will begin to reject the negative labels and adjectives used to describe and qualify both country and citizens by the western media, and even by Nigerians themselves, and strive to do good; to think of nation first and stand proud and tall amongst other citizens of the world.  As the slogan suggests, Nigeria is a great nation of good people.”

Although now of blessed memory, Professor Dora Akunyili wherever she is will probably be pleased today seeing the great exploits being made by the up and coming generations of Nigerians who are silently but conscientiously making waves across the globe in various fields of endeavours, helping to rebrand the name of Nigeria and her citizens by showcasing them in positive light.

Among such spectacular Nigerians is the story of 17 year-old Miss Isioma Osubor, who hails from the sleepy town of Onicha-Uku, in Aniocha Local Government of Delta State.  At such a young age, Isy, as Isioma Osubor is fondly called by admirers has displayed potentials for greatness and leadership capability even among her western peers, in schools abroad, a greatness also acknowledged by those through whose hands she is being moulded into a person of value in life.

Isy’s outstanding academic brilliance has seen her offered admission into three prestigious universities in the United States of America, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), California Institute of Technology (CALTEC) and Harvard University. It would appear that she may have settled to attend MIT reputed to be the best in the world for engineering studies. Observers acknowledge that getting admission offer into MIT to study engineering is a feat that is usually the preserve of persons with exceptional academic brilliance.

Born in 1999, she attended Doha English Speaking School (DESS) from 2006to 2010 for her elementary school, Doha College (2010 to 2014) and Cranbrook Schools, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA for her High School Diploma.

Besides the highlights of admission offers from the three outstanding universities, other icing on the cake for Isy includes the following:

Obtained SAT score of 2,350 and 800/800 in mathematics and chemistry SAT single subjects. At 17 she was College resident Adviser, co-chair of the Model United Nation, Chair person of the Maths Association, and member of the Cranbrook basket ball team.

This child prodigy gives an insight about herself and eventful life so far in a sweet prose. She begins: “My life until the age of 10 can best be described as a series wide-eyed adventures that often ended with me moving to a new country and continent. This worldwide version of country hopping driven by my inner quest to discover left me dazzled by languages I didn’t know exist, and food I couldn’t begin to pronounce their names. My world was funny, unpredictable, and genuine. Most of all, it left my parents and siblings wondering what next. Eventually I grew tired of my capricious life and started to count the countries not as adventurers had, but friends lost and chances missed. My only consolation became the Nigerian mantra my community had instilled in me: Your life is already fated.

“ I was born in June 1st, 1999 in Lagos to the family of Joseph and Stella Osubor. My Dad retired early from Shell and the search for alternative employment took us to other countries such as the UK and Qatar. Finally, we settled in Qatar where we lived for a glorious six years. While in Qatar, I met Thomas who, like a thief in the night crept under all my defenses to become my best friend. To me, he embodied the excitement and adventure of every previous country and to this day is the only person whose school work scrutiny has made me feel better about my innumerable quirks. Yet somehow, over the course of our friendship I always knew the other shoe would drop. And eventually, did. My parents sat me down like they always had and told me that they would soon be moving back to Nigeria. After that day, regret became a rain cloud that followed me everywhere because unlike all those other countries I’d seen, Qatar had seemed as though it would be the adventure to last a lifetime. Or at least until graduation. In the end, I trudged on to the next continent with a heavy heart and a sour smile.”

Isioma continued: “Across an ocean, as I flipped through picture on Instagram and noted the empty spaces where my face should’ve been, I could feel myself floating away from my friends’ lives. Soon enough, my link to Qatar got looser until the only connection left was Thomas. But even that tether proved unable to keep me anchored against the unrelenting waves of life, school and sports. Soon enough I was moored along just like I’d always been. Destiny, I told myself. For months, I used every synonym in the book convincing myself that I hadn’t just lost the best friendship of my life. And it worked. But then at lunch, someone made a comment about a TV show called ‘How I Met Your Mother’ doubled over in laughter and looked to see Thomas’ reaction at our shared inside joke, just like I’d done a million times before, except the knowing smile wasn’t there. Instead, I was met with a series of confused faces. I was alone in my laughter. This is America.

“The realization that I should’ve fought harder hit me like a two-ton truck. “Destiny”, the blanket I had hidden behind for 16 years too long was no longer enough to keep me warm at night. Even the culture I had been brought up with had inadvertently led me to become a villain in the movie of my life when all I wanted was to be the hero. Looking back, I know that I let the notion of fate dictate the actions, or lack thereof in my life. I want to tell stories of what happened in my life, not just lament what could’ve been. More than anything, I want to encounter the glaring face of regret less and less as I grow older. As I look back at all Isy’s in Nigeria, South Africa, London, Italy and Qatar that I never gave myself the chance to be, all I can offer them is a heartfelt apology and a saddened goodbye as I finally let go of the mistakes that brought me to Cranbrook School. To this Isy, in less than a year, I will be on a new adventure of my choosing to MIT and I can promise them that this time, the story will be a little different. My aim is to use technology to make the world a better place for you and me.”

In another development, Miss Isioma Osubor was able to inform that she has clarity of perception into what she wants to do and become in the future. In an application review to questions put to her about her goals and aspirations, which was challenged to do within a limit of 1,000 characters, including spaces, which meant that she should respond to the question in approximately 200 words. The following is her response: “The idea of being an Engineer in the future was one that crept up on me without knowing. As a freshman, I was subconsciously drawn to clubs, experiences, and conversations that not only augmented my knowledge of engineering as a whole but also deepened my abilities. With regard to how far I plan on pursuing my education, I was recently admitted to MIT and I would love nothing more than to begin my career as an Engineer to understand how and why things work. During the course of my education, I look forward to working with the natural laws to invent things that will improve lives and leave the world a better place. After that, I endeavor to complete my masters and Ph.D. Although I don’t aspire to do anything as amazing as curing cancer or ending world hunger, my aspirations have oddly remained the same as when I was younger. No matter where I end up, I only want to be happy and fulfilled in both my career and my life and contribute towards making the world a better place as well.”

Again in response to another question I her application review interview Isy wrote the following essay: “As an international student attending boarding school in the US, I am split between two homes, two very different yet equally important communities. My Nigerian community fostered my love of education and strengthened my sense of purpose while at Cranbrook, I found an innovative side of myself I didn’t know existed. In Nigeria as a kid, my favourite place wasn’t the zoo or the local ice cream parlour but school. School gave me hope and confidence but most of all, it ignited a passion inside me that still burns today. But when I went back home to Nigeria, what I saw devastated me. There I met many kids, like me, who wanted to discover what the world had to offer but didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

“Long after I returned to my home and school abroad, the unfairness of it all stayed lodged in the back of my throat; a bitter pill I couldn’t bring myself to swallow. I wanted to do something about it but didn’t know what. Then I found the answer sitting on the numerous bookshelves in my basement. I started collecting used study guides, novels and textbooks from every source I could find; friends, schools, you name it. I became a scavenger of knowledge and material, and soon my basement was so filled that I couldn’t take two steps without tripping over an upturned box of books. Then every time I went back to Nigeria, instead of taking back clothes, I would take back books. Soon we had enough to fill a bookshelf, then two, three, and more. With the help of the kids I’d met on that day, we converted a long abandoned space into somewhere that could foster hope and education. We called it akwukwo nkwa, which roughly translates to The School of Promise.  Without the opportunities, determination and experience that my education has given me, I would be a very different person and I believe everyone should have the chance to discover that magic, especially the community that has taught me so much.

“While at Cranbrook, my impact on my community took a different turn. The inception of The Cranbrook Culture Book really began as a seemingly unattainable idea between a group of students. We each had divergent views of where the Culture Book should go and doubts about whether or not we had the capability to build something so time-consuming from the ground up. In an effort to simulate real business positions, each person decided on the role they wanted to play in the development of the Culture Book. That was how I found myself assuming the role of a part-time coder and part-time marketing strategist. The entire point of the culture Book was to give back to a community that had given us so much in life. We wanted a way to record the numerous opportunities and the various accomplishments of the students of Cranbrook in a way that would show what being a Cranbrook student really is. It is vibrancy, passion, love, and most importantly support. Eventually, all the blood, sweat and, yes, tears that we put into bringing the Culture Book to fruition paid off. The board of developers and the Culture Book went from being a dream to a reality.

“Regardless of where I have lived, finding a way to positively impact the community around me has always been a priority. Innovation and education are the two most important aspects of who I am and they ate the two things I hope to continue using as instruments of change. No matter where I end up, I know I can take the lessons and skills I’ve learned in Nigeria and Cranbrook to make a difference.”

 

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