I reached varsity library’s limit of borrowing 20 books at once –Anyiam-Osigwe, LSE first-class graduate

Tetsekela Anyiam – Osigwe , 20 , graduated from the Department of Politics and International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science , United Kingdom , with a first – class degree in the 2018 / 2019 academic session . In this interview with SIMON UTEBOR , she talks about her journey to success
What attracted you to reading Politics and International Relations?
I wanted to explore the national and transnational trends , from a multidisciplinary lens , and apply theories to a wide range of contemporary case studies in order to explain and perhaps , find solutions , to international challenges .
Was it then by choice that you chose to study IR in school or that was what you were offered?
It was definitely a conscious choice to study IR in school. I got admission offers from all the schools I applied to , but LSE was the right choice for me . Not only is it recognised as the top school for IR, but it also has professors who are leading figures in the field . I also knew that LSE attracts the best speakers to come in and speak to students . Over the course of my studies , there were public lectures delivered by people like President Nana Akufo -Addo of Ghana and Professor John Mearsheimer ( one of the most widely cited realist IR scholars ) . Even the then- presidential candidate , Dr Oby Ezekwesili , came to give a talk .
What was your dream as a child ?
I did not really have a specific career dream , if that is what you mean. I did both the arts and sciences in school. I only hoped that I would be among the vanguard of agents for positive change , perhaps expanding the frontiers of the possible for the good of society and the sustainability of the world we live in .
What fond memories of your childhood do you have?
The first memory that comes to my mind is my dad allowing me to listen to him practise his speeches . At the time , the Osigwe Anyiam – Osigwe Foundation had an annual lecture series , where my grandfather ’s philosophical writings were subjected to critical appraisal . He would call my sisters and me to his room and ask us to give him feedback. This started when I was as young as five . I vividly remember a particular speech titled “ Religion , Social Harmony and Development: Towards an Explicit Construct of Holistic Development. ” I was about nine years old at the time . He was trying to explain to us how religion was at the centre of the paradox of a unified global economy and a divided global society , which poses the greatest threat in our society . You could imagine how hard he tried to simplify the concept to his five daughters.
Would you say it was easy or difficult graduating with a f It was not easy . Attentiveness , dedication , hard work , perseverance , resilience and discipline are all needed . It was never easy . I had to put my all into everything I did. I knew , firsthand , that most people succeed because they are determined to, and I strived to be more than determined .
Did you plan towards it or it happened by divine providence ?
I think everyone plans on achieving the best possible result and it was the same for me . There was actually a glass -covered multi -layered shelf I passed by every time I had to go for a class or lecture in LSE’ s main building . On one of the shelves, there was a framed photo of a first-class certificate . Sometimes , I would stop by the shelf and tell myself that I could get that at the end of my degree programme . It was both a constant reminder and a persistent motivation.
Did you have such excellent results in your previous schools ?
Yes; it is a testament to the fact that hard work pays off and prayers work . I was both a head girl and valedictorian in ST & T primary school. For my secondary education, I attended Avi -Cenna International School, where I was head girl and valedictorian as well . My sisters told me that they still display my picture as well as the International General Certificate of Secondary Education results at Avi -Cenna, so that continues to be an honour and a blessing in itself . I will say this , though : we are what we repeatedly do . Excellence , in this sense, is not an act . It is a habit . I was always taught to be consistent, to never relent on my efforts , and never put a limit on what I could achieve .
Some people think one has to read at all times to graduate with a first -class degree ; was that the case ?
It was not all the time , but there was certainly a significant amount of reading involved . The key is being able to filter large amounts of information from very extensive reading lists . I didn’ t have to read all the time though . Some people will be surprised that I watched movies , I listened to music and I went to see shows . It ’ s all about having a right balance and managing your time well .
How many hours did you devote to studying ?
Most times, I finished classes around 5 pm , and would spend anything between two and five hours studying after . I had seminars almost every day and teachers expected you to have done the reading and they structured the discussions assuming that you did . This was LSE, so, as a student, you knew that most , if not all of your classmates , were studying twice as hard as the next person . You had to put in the work .
On average , how many hours of sleep did you have daily ?
I honestly don ’t know. I tried to get at least six hours , but I know that was not the case all the time . I did not read mostly at night . My mother had the habit of calling after 00 : 00 am ( midnight) just to see if I was still awake . She was adamant that I try to get my rest . She was right . I knew the difference it made.
How often did you use the library ?
I used it all the time . This was especially true in my final year when I was writing my dissertation. It was not as though it was my second home , but I did make use of it daily. There was a limit of 20 books , which could be borrowed concurrently, and I reached that limit quite early on .
What was your experience in studying IR ?
I was fortunate enough to go to London to school and this gave me a truly international experience. Imagine talking about the conflict in Syria , and having classmates and friends from Syria and Lebanon, who could give you their own first- hand experiences . I had a professor who specialised in China -Africa relations and lectured on his research , which I had previously read about in one of the journals published by the South African Institute of International Affairs. One of my IR professors was even conducting fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo and discussing her findings with us in her lectures . I enjoyed being taught by people , who I believe , were a subset of the best professors in the field . I was able to familiarise myself with high- level scholarship , continuously receive feedback that helped me improve on my work , and conduct my own research on UN -Africa relations. I don ’ t think it gets better than that.
Were you involved in other activities apart from your studies?
I did athletics ; I’ ve done it ever since primary school in fact. I was the President of the Duke of Edinburgh Club , which is an international student award programme. Part of the programme involved community service . I was part of the Debate Society , the Policy Society , UN Society , and the LSE Believers / Gospel Society . I am also involved in the Mission for Democracy in Africa Project . Throughout my time in university , I also assisted with research in my departments , which was separate from my normal degree programme .
Would you say you were sociable ?
Not really , and this was not because my studies prevented me from being so. It was not just in my personality to be .
What was your reading schedule like during exams ?
It was intense, that ’s the only word for it . With my course load, I had to have a timetable to make sure I covered everything
Were there times you ran to secluded places to read ?
There was a library in my college accommodation , which I used frequently , especially when I wanted a change of environment from my room or my university ’ s library . It was hardly used by students , so it was the perfect place .
Did you attend social gatherings or it was always about your books ?
I attended some . I was part of university societies , like the Policy Society and the UN Society , and that provided a direct avenue to meet with people .
How did you spend your leisure ?
I mainly volunteered during my spare time . I write as a Senior Contributor for The Intelligence Brief . Some people might not see it as leisure, but I do enjoy giving my opinion and analysing contemporary global issues, especially when it is not subject to an academic grade.
Is there anything you would have loved to do as a student that you could not ?
I don’ t think so. I am happy with the student experience I had .
Were there things you did differently from others that helped you ( in terms of special commitments , sacrifices , etc. )?
I did not shy away from hard work . Especially as an international student , and then, as a Nigerian student , I have seen people surprised throughout my academic experience that I achieved what I did. To top it off , they are even more surprised because I am a girl. There are added pressures that are invisible , but that I have now come to embrace . I wanted to transcend any preconception. At 15 , I was the youngest in my A level school. At 17 , I was one of the youngest going into the first year . I made the conscious decision not to let these things be an obstacle .
In what ways do you think Nigeria could benefit from the effective application of international relations tools ?
There is one major aspect that comes to mind and that is cultural diplomacy as a tool of international relations . You already see this being cultivated , not necessarily from government , but from institutions like Nollywood , and Nigerians , including writers , musicians, and other types of artists . This type of public diplomacy is often underestimated, but is an equally important tool in international relations for the country . It could help cultivate Nigeria’ s soft power, both within Africa and the world at large.
It is believed that men love to associate with brilliant and intelligent ladies, how did you handle guys?
That has consciously not been on my agenda and I don’ t think it will , for the foreseeable future . When it ’ s the right time , it will , but I have too much to accomplish before I can give thought to that .
What were your happiest and saddest ( most memorable ) moments ?
The saddest would be hearing about my father’ s passing in November 2014 . I would not call it passing actually, because he believed that personality outlives death . Still , it was hard to know that he wouldn ’t be physically there from then on . My most memorable moments also have to do with him.
Did you enjoy any scholarship or win any award as an undergraduate ?
I was the prize recipient of the Head of Department Prize in BSc Politics and International Relations . This prize is awarded to the finalist student with the best overall performance over all three years of study in BSc Politics and International Relations. I was also awarded one of the department ’s dissertation prizes . This prize is awarded each year to the top three finalist students with the best overall performance in a government dissertation .
Where would you like to work ?
I have admired those who are scholar -practitioners . So, I would like to work in international organisations and think – tanks, but would also like to give lectures . I have a friend who is convinced that I am going to work in the public sector, so who knows ?
What are your future ( career ) plans ?
In the short term , I hope to start my master ’s programme soon. In the long term , I would like to have a career that mirrors someone like Professor Ibrahim Gambari, who has had an incredible career spanning academia , government and international diplomacy . He went to LSE as well , so hopefully , I already have a good foundation .

I reached varsity library’s limit of borrowing 20 books at once –Anyiam-Osigwe, LSE first-class graduate

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