February 3, 2023

Umuaka Times

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“People should think hard about their future.” Virtue Igbokwuwe.

6 min read

Miss Virtue Igbokwuwe, a Nigerian born British citizen is perhaps a child marked for global substance from birth. At her tender age, she has recorded some milestones many older persons across the world have not achieved. Despite making first class in her Master’s degree program at the prestigious University of Southampton in the UK, Chiamaka Igbokwuwe has developed a Youtube Channel where many across the world watch her often digest the mathematics of Civil Engineering. 

Recently, the Umuaka Times correspondent in the UK had a moving interview with the lady who is the first daughter of Chief (Engineer) Igbokwuwe Emmanuel Nwokejiezi, a world class chemical engineer known as Nwokeoji in the local parlance . She spoke on a wide variety of issues.

Excerpts:

Please tell us your name and a little about you.

Hello, my name is Virtue Igbokwuwe! I am a Civil Engineer working for a French company assisting with the Design and Build of different projects. I currently live and work in the UK.

Where did you go to school? I mean primary and secondary schools?

I attended primary and secondary school in the UK.

You have been a science student all along. Why do some people complain that sciences are very difficult courses?

From a young age I have always liked science especially Physics, but I also had a passion for the creative subjects such as Arts and Product Design. Combining those two subjects allowed me to draw strengths and weaknesses from both subjects. Physics can be challenging but with support and dedication, it becomes manageable and dare I say enjoyable.

Enjoyable? Did you at any point find sciences difficult?

Just like everyone, there are always things you will struggle with. I particularly did not enjoy astrophysics and things to do with space, I found the theory behind it all challenging, but it did not take away from the joy I had for the subject.

You read civil engineering? What really inspired that? I mean who influenced you?

Civil Engineering is Engineering for the people. It encompasses structures, geotechnics, roads, coastal areas and much more. My passion for it stems from my love for Physics and Product Design, during my A levels, my physics teacher told me to look into Civil Engineering and gave me some useful links and advice and that was when I found the job for me.

Good one. What of those who inspired you?

There is a lot of people who inspired me, Rachel Skinner was the previous ICE (Institution of Civil Engineering) President, and she has done a lot for the Net Zero campaign. In addition, she is a role model to a lot of aspiring engineers. She was recently awarded a CBE from the Queen for her service to infrastructure.

If you did not read civil engineering, what could you have read?

I would’ve studied Product design or Physics.

Physics as a single honour?

Yes then a masters in something else.

Umuaka Times gathered that you made First Class in your Master degree program from a prestigious university in the UK. Please tell us how you achieved that.

I attended the University of Southampton in the UK, and I studied Civil Engineering and gained a First Class Masters degree in Civil Engineering. The program was 4 years long and covered a wide range of topics and disciplines, from Structural Engineering to Transport. I found the degree (for the most part) rewarding, it came with it challenges but nothing you can’t handle. Being organized and making sure I was on top of my work definitely influenced my grades as well as having a strong group of friends.

How competitive was the program and how difficult?

Southampton University is ranked in the Top 5 best universities for Civil Engineering. It is a competitive course as everyone would want to study at the best university and the top level. The main thing is having good academic grades during secondary school and showcasing your passion for the subject.

From the time you performed excellently and got your Masters, can you share with us some honours favours or any form of endorsements you have received so far?

During my second year in the university, I secured a Scholarship from Southampton University. Through this I was able to get summer internships with a Civil Engineering company as well as support money throughout my degree. This scholarship helped me so much as it allowed me to gain the necessary experience needed as an Engineer and I landed my Graduate job through the scholarship.

Are you aware that in Umuaka, enrolments into the university have dropped very well. Some now claim that education is a scam. What do you say about that?

I think people should think hard and long about their future and what routes are available to them. I thoroughly enjoyed university, it is an amazing experience and shapes you to be a well-rounded person with transferable skills. However, I can understand the hesitation, the long study hours, the money debt etc. Therefore, people need to put though into it, also there are new opportunities out there such as Apprenticeships, internships, training qualifications etc.

 If you are given an opportunity to improve the quality of education in Nigeria, which areas will you focus?

I think there is a lot that can be done to improve the quality of education in Nigeria, and it involves all sectors. I would focus on improving the number of graduates that secure a job within the first two years of graduating from university. We have a lot of graduates and qualified personnel, however, there are not enough job opportunities in the country. This can be very demoralizing and has a detrimental effect on the number of people wanting to go to university. How I will do this, is still unclear but a change must happen.

We heard that you have a YouTube channel. Tell us what you do at the channel.

My YouTube channel “The Virtuous Life” provides an insight to the day to day activities of a Civil Engineering student and now a Civil Engineer. I started the channel in my first year of university and over the 3 years I have grown the channel to over 5000 subscribers and 360,000 views. I vlog my life and try to bridge the gap between students and Engineers by showcasing what it entails and ways you can get there.

How long have you operated that channel and how is the response like??

My channel has been operating for 3 years now. The response has been amazing. When I started, I did not think that it would grow to this size and lead to so many opportunities such as appearing on National TV on the “Richard Hammond’s Crazy Contraption” game show. Also being awarded STEM Ambassador of the year (2021) by the Institution of Civil Engineering.

So what’s next for you?

I hope to continue growing in my job and hopefully sit my professional review and become a Chartered Civil Engineer. I also want to continue to my work in increasing the representation of black women in the industry and also help younger students whether that’s by mentoring, events, presentations etc.

Before we end the interview, please tell us your hobbies.

I enjoy playing sports, I like to keep active and fit. During university I played netball, volleyball and korfball and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

There must be some people you would like to greet who helped d in moulding you over the years.

My parents are my biggest inspiration. My father Chief Engineer Emmanuel Igbokwuwe is an amazing role model and I aspire to be the Engineer he is today. My mother is the most hard working woman I know. Both guided my through my studies and offered invaluable advice and guidance.

Can you also tell us about the academic strides made by your siblings?

I have two brothers. Both have graduated from the university and my younger sister will enrol in the uiversity later this year.

You visited Nigeria during Christmas, what is your impression about Nigeria and Umuaka?

I was born in Owerri, Nigeria, it will always be my home. I enjoyed visiting Nigeria and Umuaka, the country is full of life and hustle. There is so much room for growth and improvement and I just want to do my part in improving the country.

Chiamaka, Umuaka Times thanks you for this great opportunity and wishes you the best in life.

Thanks and remain blessed.

 

 

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