Nicholas Uchechukwu Asogwa, a former wheelbarrow pusher and shoe repairer, has shared his inspiring story on social media, detailing how he overcame all obstacles to work as an ethics professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
Asogwa, one of the freshly promoted UNN professors, spoke about his rise to fame as a way of paying homage to God and those who helped make his academic career a success.
Sharing photos of himself from the ceremony, Asogwa wrote, “Today is a momentous occasion in my life as UNN announced my elevation to the sublime rank of Professor. My gratitude goes to God. I stand before the world, overwhelmed. I am a living testament to the power of persistence and determination in the face of adversity.”
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He said he was born into a family facing poverty: “Times were hard, resources were limited, and dreams seemed unattainable. However, I was blessed with parents who instilled in me the value of education and the belief that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance.”
Asogwa said he navigated through financial constraints, societal stereotypes, and many doubts before becoming a professor.
He said, “The very day I was offered employment, I knew that I carried the weight of breaking the cycle of poverty in my family and proving to all those who doubted me that a person’s background does not define his/her potential.
“I faced numerous rejections, disappointments, and setbacks along the way, but I refused to let them define me. The position of Professor which I attained today is an affirmation of the truism in the saying that, ‘determination is the key to success’.”
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He also recalled his beginning as a wheelbarrow pusher, noting that, “I recall with tears my days as a barrow pusher at the popular Orie Orba market in Udenu LGA of Enugu state, and then my days as a shoe-mender in one of the female hostels (Bello Hall) in UNN.”
Asogwa dedicated his thesis to two women who spurred him to success. In his words, “They are Barrister Mrs Nkechi Ohanuka, and Mrs Proscovia Ndoboli from Imo State and Uganda, respectively. My relationship with them dates back to my days as a shoe-mender. Both of them were my regular customers then.
“Upon realizing that I attended school up to secondary level, Nkechi Ohanuka asked me why I didn’t want to further my education. I replied that I desired higher education badly but that owing to my background, I needed to make some money that would help me to forge ahead.
“Coincidentally, the discussion took place at a time that JAMB form was on sale. In the evening of that same day, Mrs Ohanuka came back to my shop, and handed a wrapped paper to me to buy the form. When she left, I unwrapped the paper, and it contained six hundred and twenty naira, the exact amount JAMB form was sold then.
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“In the case of Proscocia, when I informed her that she might not see me in my shop when next she comes to repair her shoes, as I was due to leave, having gotten admission to further my education, she was shocked; shocked because she said she didn’t know that I attended secondary school much less sitting for JAMB examination.
“After congratulating me, she told me that she would like to know my place and see my parents. We fixed a date and after visiting my place, she told me that even though my place is very close to the university, she wouldn’t want me to be attending lectures from my place. In addition, she told me that she would pay for my initial school fees. She fulfilled her promise and left Nigeria the following year after graduation.”
Prof Asogwa said because of his background, he would always be a model to his students. He wrote, “I promise myself that I will not disappoint God, my lovely parents, Nkechi Ohanuka, and Proscovia Ndoboli. In this regard, I have been doing my best to serve humanity and help in shaping the destinies of those that come in contact with me.
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“To invest in material things is good, but investing in people is far much better. Look at me: ever since I got employment as a lecturer, there has been no day without my remembering Nkechi Ohanuka.
“Look at what the seed she sowed in me some years back has grown into. I, myself, have leveraged on that seed to sow seeds in others, and it will continue like that. What I am today and the more that I will become tomorrow are in one way or another, the results of that seemingly small investment she made in me.”
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