Mary Ofure Ebhomielen, since setting foot in the University of Ibadan (UI) in Nigeria, knew she wanted to graduate with first-class honors in Computer Science. She ended up making history in her school as the first female student to maintain a CPGA of 7.0 till her fourth year. This made Ebhomielen the first female student to achieve such a feat in the school’s 71-year-history.
Attaining such a feat came with lots of sacrifices; she had set the bar right from her first semester in the university and challenged herself to see it through.
In an interview, Ebhomielen said she deliberately stayed out of many social activities and sometimes church services so she could squeeze in extra hours of learning. It took a toll on her sleeping pattern because she had to sacrifice some sleep as well.
All the sacrifices paid off because she ended up as the best graduating student of the University of Ibadan, having read Computer Science, and the fourth ever person to graduate with a perfect CGPA from the first to the fourth year.
“I started with a perfect CGPA in my first semester of 100 level. So, from then, the challenge is to maintain it. I didn’t drop in 200 and 300 level. I was having As in my courses. All that was left is to wrap it well in my final year. I saw perfect CGPA coming.”
Ebhomielen is from Uromi in Edo State and is the second of six children. Her entire family and parents who are both engineers are super proud of her achievements. Per The News Nigeria, her mother is an electrical engineer currently pursuing her master’s at the University of Ibadan and her father is a recently retired mechanical engineer.
Growing up, Ebhomielen had always been academically gifted. “I was the best student in my primary school, but secondary school became more competitive and I think I came second overall in JSS1 and 2 but I struggled in JSS3, SS1 and SS2. I finally found my feet in SS3 when I had the best IGSCE result in my set,” she told the Punch. “Then, I worked really hard for my O’level exams and I had six A’s in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination while I passed the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination as well.”
Ebhomielen caught the attention of her schoolmates in UI when she began tutoring others on campus. But she sometimes resorted to her friends to help her stay on track and it worked because she was able to keep a 7.0 CGPA during her entire undergraduate studies.
Not long after graduation, she applied to some universities including Stanford University, San Francisco to pursue a Ph.D. but the school recommended she does a master’s degree in Computer Science instead and that offer did not come with funding.
That sent her on a row applying to different scholarship bodies to no avail. The determined Ebhomielen sent an email to the course coordinator at Stanford seeking help with funding and stating categorically that the naira to dollar rate is too high. She told the coordinator there was no means for her to fund her studies.
Stanford got back with an offer nearly a year later when she least expected it, taking her on as a teaching assistant and covering her school fees while giving her monthly stipends as well.
Speaking of her experience at Stanford since January 2021, she admits it is entirely different, more flexible, and accommodating than her experience in Nigerian institutions. The open-door policy makes the lecturers approachable and they are constantly seeking feedback from students to improve the way they teach, she said.
The 23-year-old’s plans of pursuing a doctorate right after the master’s degree may be on hold for now as Ebhomielen intends of having work experience under her belt, beginning with internships and then moving into full-time roles, especially since she is into computer science and Artificial intelligence, and in close proximity to Silicon Valley.