Meni Roland, a native of Emeyal 2, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, has not met her governor before. Not on a very close range. But she prays for the opportunity to do so. And when she meets him, she would like to thank him for the state government's scholarship offer that made it possible for her to study at the Lincoln University, USA.
Maybe Meni would still have studied abroad, but surely when she did. The parents knew better. Perhaps, that was why the mother made sure she went through all the processes for the screening. When she finally got it, their joy knew no bounds. Today, she is serving the country under the NYSC scheme in Akwa Ibom State. But once she is through, she hopes to give back to her state, what she got from the government.
She told TNN about the journey to Lincoln, especially on the eve of her departure “My mind was mostly blank. There were a lot of possible things to think of, but nothing stuck. I was going to leave my home and family something that would have happened even if I was schooling in Nigeria. There was also the fear of the weather, and the people I would meet but on the day we left and the day before, I don't remember thinking much. I just let it all go.”
How did she get to know about the scholarship programme? Her response: “My mum came home with the news that application was ongoing for a government scholarship and had all of us apply; me, my cousins, my younger brother. We did because she would not let us rest without trying. The first test was the English test which we went for at 8am but ended up writing at 7pm at the stadium, which was filled. After that was the maths exams which was overseen by not just scholarship officials but staff from the university and then the oral interview with each candidate, the staff from Lincoln and some officials from the state scholarship board. I had not expected to pass the maths test as I had not studied maths judiciously after my WAEC and was surprised. For the oral interview, I remember meeting the other students and learnt about the school then.
“I was able to answer most of the questions I was asked during the interview from what I learned, by speaking with others. I got a text message inviting me to the scholarship board office by 9am as I was one of the successful candidates at 9:30 while trying to apply for my national ID but refused to pay attention to it as it was late and when I told my parents, they hurried me over where we found out it was true.”
That was how Meni saw herself with others, grabbing the state government's scholarship and getting ready for an all expenses paid education tourism in the United States of America.
She is particularly excited because given her background, the feat would not have been attained at this time. “Education was and is important for my parents they always stressed its importance while I was growing up. An overseas education would not have been possible though. I do not know which spoon I fall under, but we did not lack anything though we did not live in a mansion. Everything academic was provided for me.”
But would she count herself lucky to have benefited from the scholarship? Of course yes. That was her response. She also spoke about life in the school, saying “life at Lincoln was interesting. I liked how it was easy to interact with the professors outside of class and how we were welcomed and detested the parties though it was seen by the Americans as a norm, one of the reasons they are in college.
She hailed Dickson for his commitment to education advancement. “I think education is very important in any society and a strong education background would lead to the growth of any society. The governor's interest in education to me appears to be a mark of better things to come as he is investing in the future leaders.
“I don't think offering him(Dickson) money is one of the ways to appreciate him and as much as I tried to study hard and represent the state and country, the best way to appreciate him will be by using my specialisations, as I studied English and French. I am presently serving at Uyo where I teach French to interested individuals at the French centre of the ministry of education. I can always teach that which I know to others. With the globalization going on, the importance of foreign languages cannot be stressed enough.
“I am grateful and happy, I got to meet a lot of different people, learn about different cultures, made friends with people who were nice and hospitable. The scholarship covered tuition, room and board, health insurance, books, allowance, just about everything.”