Nigerian breaks academic record in UK

A young Nigerian woman, Ms. Hauwa Umar Usman has achieved a historic academic record in the United Kingdom (UK) after graduating with a First Class (Honours) degree in Aeronautical Engineering in August 2017.

Hauwa Usman is the first Northern Nigerian woman to have studied Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Brighton, making her amongst the very few females in Nigeria to study such a discipline.

Findings on Saturday revealed that she is among the few to have bagged First Class in the history of the school and first Nigerian female to achieve such a feat.

Hauwa was born in Kano and attended Crescent International School in Kano from primary to junior secondary. Her family moved to Abuja when she was 14 years old and went on to complete her secondary school education at the British International School, before moving to England to further her Education.

Her education in England began at the EF Language school in Cambridge, where she studied Engineering for her University foundation preparation year 2012-2013. Hauwa got accepted to study Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Brighton in 2013.

Hauwa is the daughter of a respected retired Nigerian Army Chief of Transport and Logistics, Maj-Gen. Umar Tudunwada Usman.

The elated father said: “Hauwa has made us proud and she truly deserves to be celebrated.”

She is the third daughter of Maj-Gen Usman Tudunwada Usman, who is currently the International Vice President (IVP) for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) in Africa and Chairman of the Africa Forum, as well the former National President of CILT in Nigeria.

Hauwa says her curiosity for an aircraft’s ability to remain airborne, flight control systems and related aviation safety issues in the country led her to choose Aeronautics.

She shared her story, saying: “My choice to study Aeronautical Engineering was one out of curiosity for aircrafts at a young age. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into due to how challenging and demanding nature of the male-dominated”.

“My Father has been very supportive since day one of my academic journey. He always taught me to be patient, learn from my mistakes and always do my best, because ‘my best is enough.”

“Despite the odds, I was determined that I would not let myself down and most especially my Father, who sacrificed so much to make sure I have the best education.”

“During my studies in England, I experienced some challenges, which a British friend noticed were signs of dyslexia and suggested that I take a dyslexia test. I had never heard of dyslexia ever in my life. I contacted the dyslexia team at the University and they were very helpful in explaining the disability and I was told that even the smartest scientist like Albert Einstein had this disability.”

According to Hauwa, Dyslexia is a “specific learning difficulty” that can cause certain problems with learning, such as reading, writing, and understanding a task among others.

She, however, stressed that her intelligence was not affected as she undertook the stages of assessment for dyslexia “and it was discovered that I had a certain level of learning difficulty. The most important thing at that stage in my life was how to manage and develop a strategic way to understand where my difficulties affected me more.”

She said: “Whilst studying, I had my ups and downs and at the edge of wanting to give up. I always remembered my father’s words: “it’s a challenge studying Aeronautics and yet you have come this far and I am so proud of you.”

“My Mother had taught me to never lose hope in anything I do and that my hard work won’t go to vein and Allah’s mercy will always be with me.”

She stressed that her “success in Aeronautical Engineering has been through hard work, stepping out of my comfort zone, understanding strategic ways to manage my learning difficulties, having a positive mind set and most importantly, the encouragement from my family and friends during my most challenging times, allowed me to be amongst the very few with a first class degree in Aeronautical Engineering.”

Hauwa had some words of advice for young Nigerians, saying:  “Verily with hardship comes ease.” A quote from the Holy Quran (94:6).

“The need to diagnose dyslexia in individuals especially at a younger age by both parents and teaching staff in Nigeria must be given more emphasis,” Hauwa said.

She also appealed: “no child should be hit or beaten because they do not understand a task.”