In an exclusive interview, the winner of the just concluded #OurStateOurResponsibility Essay Writing Competition, Miss Sophia Oyibo Awajibenem Eyitemi, takes us into her world and shares the things that make her tick. Excerpt
How did you feel when you were announced winner and the made the Honorary Commissioner of Information and Communication?
I’d say that, that was one of the greatest moments of my life, because I felt very excited and it was a rare opportunity. It made me feel so very happy and boosted my self esteem.
Did it come as a surprise, or were you confident and expecting to win?
I had the thought of winning but I wasn’t really expecting it the way it came, but not withstanding I prayed about it, because I wanted to win too. So in some ways, it didn’t really come as a surprise then in some ways too I was surprised, because I didn’t really know who I was competing against.
So it’s a little of both?
Yes it was.
How did you hear about the essay competition?
I saw the advert on television.
How would you describe Sophia? Who is she?
Sophia is a resilient, ambitious and flexible lady. who strives to get or attain success. I was born into the family of Mr and Mrs Oyibo. I am from Andoni, Rivers State. I am a public health student of the Joint Professional Training and Support International Institute of the Global Wealth System. I am an ambitious and flexible lady, who is determined to achieve success in the best way possible. I would also describe myself as approachable, enterprising and simple minded. I am a good writer and a passionate researcher, public speaking practice.
What is something about Rivers State that you treasure?
What I treasure about Rivers State is our way of taking in opportunities, our way of being professional with our careers & being studious, and also our culture. I actually admire our culture how people relate to each other in Rivers State, also our hospitality too.
What came to mind when you first heard: Our State Our Responsibility? What does it mean to you?
Starting with an 18yr old Sophia, I don’t see responsibility having an age grade or age limit. Everyone is entitled to different responsibilities either small or big.
So when I heard about Our State Our Responsibility, I saw it as a medium for us to improve our State – to perform our obligations. It was more like a platform for a proper awareness or orientation on what we are supposed to do and what we have mandatorily to do.
What are some of these specific obligations to you, as a youth from Rivers State?
Okay, our pursuit for success, independence, participation in social activities also improving our economy and protecting our posterity too. Actually we could start with our academics, our careers, as youths we could start with our different communities, by participating and involving in community based activities. It doesn’t really have to start big, we could start from somewhere, even in the church, in the school, in our environment, for sanitation you could clean your environment. It’s not that you go out there to start something big to make it known, it should start from within. And also be vigilant in the society, we shouldn’t just depend on the government for our safety, we should be security conscious.
What was your experience with the fellow competitors?
I didn’t see them as competitors, I just felt that the truth that was written will merit the prize or the award. I never saw anyone as a competitor, because we were not competing, we were actually showing forth what really we were supposed to do in our different do in our different terms. So it was actually the best write up or the best essay comes up, it’s not like we were competing, I didn’t see it that way.
Because we all have a role to play, that’s just it. So it was never like a competition for me, it was just putting my best in letting the world know how I felt about things that are supposed to be done.
What were your expectations versus the reality. What was new for you?
It exceeded, my reality exceeded my expectations. Like I wasn’t really expecting this fame and recognition, I felt that it’s just an essay and we would start with the campaign. I didn’t really see it big, the way it is right now. That’s actually the surprising part, I said earlier, I didn’t really see it as a competition, it was just me saying what I felt should be done. So I felt that the acknowledgment and other stuff attached to it, were the surprising aspect because it came like this is wonderful.
What did you learn from the experience?
I felt that we shouldn’t be self centered when we do things. We shouldn’t just go for the pursuit of the incomes or the rewards, we should see things beyond that. We should go for the passion, we should actually value what we have. It shouldn’t just be about the monetary values. That’s what I felt, we should not be self centered, we should take everyone along. At when we speak, we shouldn’t just speak for ourselves.
Was their any life lesson, you got from the experience?
I learnt that before giving access to leadership, you must learn how to serve, you must go through processes.
And also, success is something that you enjoy, it’s actually excitable so we pursue it to gain as much as we can because really having a taste of success is wonderful and it’s something that has helped me to understand that I have to be more focused and put my best into everything I have to do in life, to be successful.
Did you have some sort of support system?
While writing the essay, I was actually preparing for my exams and my dad was encouraging me with words. He just asked me to write what I felt was good to showcase for the competition. My mom was supporting me, my siblings and some of my friends. It was just something that was within, not something I went about saying I was preparing for an essay. I just secluded myself, I read some stuffs and I just decided to pen them down. So that was just it. Not like I had that very big support system, it was just my family.
What should we be looking out for from Sophia?
More achievements, more heights, greater elevations, higher pursuit in higher offices, that’s what I feel. More success too, and the world should expect more from me, because it doesn’t just end here.
Now that you are an ambassador, is that a good starting point?
Yes, it has actually exposed me to other opportunities and it has actually empowered me to know that I have to do more, there is more work to be done.
Finally what message do you have for other young people?
I would say that they shouldn’t take any opportunity for granted, that success doesn’t have an age limit or an age grade before it is attained. They should focus more on activities that will develop each and every one of us, and shouldn’t just see it as an individual thing, it should be for everybody, that way we could protect and promote our prosperity and keep up our good heritage.