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BellaNaija Celebrates Academic Excellence – Class of 2013: Nina Ene

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BellaNaija presents “Celebrating You! Class of 2013.” A few weeks ago, we called for submissions of graduating students who had excelled in their course of study. We acknowledge the fact that everyone who has graduated this year is a winner. We, therefore, want to celebrate people who have gone over and above the norm. People who have gotten meritorious distinctions and awards from their institution of study. We hope that you are inspired and we look forward to receiving more entries.

We’re very happy to bring you Nina Ene‘s story. Nina graduated with a Masters of Science in Journalism from Columbia University. Nina’s mother gave all she had for her to live her dream. Growing up in a single-parent household, things weren’t always easy but her loving mother made sure she never lacked. Faced with adversities in a place far from home, Nina learned to survive.

Nina’s dreams
Growing up, many things in my life all seemed to fall in place. I was at the top of my classes from Corona to Covenant University. You wanted the As? I had them. I had the 4.8 GPA and the 4. something CGPA. I was bold, confident and at the top of my game in almost every aspect of my life. After a stint at the now defunct NN24 (News Network 24) and a television show for the Aviation Ministry, I realized my strengths and figured one way to give back was through professional journalism. Even amongst my friends, I was considered “favored.” No problem I ever went through was worth them losing sleep over. I remember one day on one of our many school-wide meetings back then in 2008 when I took the mic and said I hoped to further my education at an Ivy League University. The laughter that erupted from the larger part of the group was quite demoralizing. Some even gave me “the look” for a few days after.

The Struggle
It wasn’t easy applying to Columbia University in the first place. I only finished my application at deadline and the testing was very rigorous and thorough. Even my days at school were filled with tedium so much so that eating food was a distraction. Besides, the cost of attendance was an arm, a leg, and then some. My family didn’t even think they would be able to pay for the whole year at school or even visit me while I was away.

Fast-forward a year later, I was struggling at Columbia University. A few of my ‘Ivy league’ professors thought I was a forgone issue. They were condescending in tone and manner to me and when I spoke, it seemed to make things even worse. They said my accent was ‘incomprehensible.’ I remember one professor stopping his lecture to explain to me the meaning of “incongruous,” even without me asking for an explanation. In fact, on an occasion before this, he asked me if English was my first language. To him, none of the work I turned was good enough.

He even told me to drop out of one of the school’s most exclusive classes. And then he told me I may not graduate but if I did, I wouldn’t be employed by anyone in America. Soon frustration and self-doubt began to set in. I began to ask myself if I’d made the wrong career choice. Was I really good enough to be there amongst some of the top journalistic minds in the world? Reflecting on that question, I considered giving up, packing my bags and hopping on the next plane back to Nigeria. At one point, I lost interest in schoolwork and didn’t even talk in class.

Nina’s Faith
I gathered all the faith I could in those who had dropped everything to make sure I would live my dream: my mother, my family and my boyfriend, who I met at Columbia. Closest in proximity to me, he wouldn’t let me give up: telling me positive words everyday and even helping me do my schoolwork into the night. It took me a whole semester to build my confidence again and want to succeed. I began to speak up in class and offer ideas. At some point, even my professors wanted to hear my contribution. In March, I composed a Masters thesis on skin color bias within the African-American community–a controversial issue that caught the interest of talk show programs who’ve even asked me to appear as a guest.

Thanks be to God, last month I topped that with Masters of Science Degree in Journalism and New Media Technology from Columbia University in the City of New York. I graduated in flying colors and excellent evaluations from my professors. Today, I’m still picking up the pieces and trying to understand God’s purpose for my life. But one thing I’ve learned is in times of adversity, you can only go two ways: give up or persevere until the end. Though the road to the end may be tough, filled with setbacks and pain, you’ll always learn and be stronger for it.

My journey to where I am today is made complete not only because I earned a very competitive Masters degree, but also because I learnt how to survive in imperfect situations and to keep my head up high till the end.

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Fun fact: Nina is an adventurer. She loves spending time at the shooting range.

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If you want to be part of this inspiring and amazing feature or if you know someone who is part of the Class of 2013 who should be featured here, please send an email to features(at)bellanaija(dot)com. We look forward to reading from you and sharing your academic excellence.

56 Comments

  1. loveth .O

    August 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Good

  2. Belle Dame

    August 5, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    🙂

  3. Busarni

    August 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Tough times don’t last buh tough ppl do; Congrats dear. Currently on my Msc as well. You ave rily inspired me . It can be frustrating at times with deadlines to meet and huge lecture materials to cover. No pain No gain,after all.

  4. Idak

    August 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Very big congrats to you!!
    Who say e easy make him post im transcript make we see.
    May you soar higher and higher in all your pursuits.

    On a slightly related note, who wrote this piece (apart from the intro)? Nina or BN?
    For a journalism graduate,the quality leaves a bit to be desired, if written by Nina. I expected better.
    If it was written by BN, then no worries. 🙂

    • Blossom

      August 5, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Not good enough for you? Take dodo.

      Nina, congrats jare. I’m also headed to an Ivy league school next year for my master’s. xoox

  5. Abana

    August 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Congratulations sweetie. The sky is the limit. Listen people, whatever you set your heart upon do it! People would talk and snigger especially when they do not understand your dream. Imagine people laughing at her when she said she wanted to study at an Ivy League university. I do not understand how people do that. Do the people who study there have two heads? One thing I always make sure I do is encourage my friends whenever they tell me of their visions and dreams, no matter how ridiculous it sounds. Because there is nothing a determined and resilient person cannot achieve. Once again, congratulations Nina.

  6. Dora the explorer

    August 5, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    go Nina go Nina go!!! Congrats!!! This girl has the fighting spirit of 10people *salutes*

  7. Berry Dakara

    August 5, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I’m shocked that your professors would treat you so abominably!

    But great job for sticking to your course and graduating.

    Best wishes in your future 🙂

    berrydakara.blogspot.com

  8. Joan

    August 5, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Awwww Nina is really an achiever, Columbia is not beans at all. Plus her man is serious eye candy too hehe. Congrats darling 🙂

  9. Bing

    August 5, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Congrats. Truly inspiring. Hope we’ll be seeing your wedding on BellaNaijaWeddings soon…. Hot couple

  10. pineapple

    August 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Wow this has really inspired me,and given me the motivation i need for my final year.

  11. Anon

    August 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I had teary eyes while reading cos I know how it feels to give up wen u think nothing good can come out of u,I’m passing thru academic challenges buh I know someday all my dreams would come true only if I persevere, I would send my story to be published

  12. Tillerman

    August 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Congrats

  13. olamipo

    August 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I am proud of you Nina. I can relate with your story as i went through lot of bullying by my classmates & teachers because i was brilliant, shy & withdrawn. They never understood why i was withdrawn from the rest of the kids, they never understood why i wouldn’t talk yet i will top the class. I was bullied alot i am almost crying thinking of the pains, the many tears, i went through.

    I forgive them because yes, i made something out of life. i have Jesus, i am successful. I am happy, still shy sometimes. lol!

    All the best in your career Ms. Nina.

  14. Alma

    August 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Soo proud of you my dear friend, Nina. Much love. God has really been on your side.

  15. Slim

    August 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    “Soon frustration and self-doubt began to set in. I began to ask myself if I’d made the wrong career choice. Was I really good enough to be there…”

    Oh my God! The above sentence just describes me now. I’m really struggling! Nothing I turn in ever seems good enough for my professor. I’ve been told harsh things by my professor too. Several times I have thought I’m in the wrong career. Some days I come home from school and I just weep. It’s more difficult that I have high achieving parents that see no reasons why I should struggle academically. I keep encouraging myself not to be caught up in the web of self doubt or depression. Too many times I feel I am drowning but somehow I manage to keep my head up. I know I’m going to pull through but presently it is tough. God has been faithful though. Amidst the struggles he has seen me through my vivas in the last two years. The God that saw you through will do same for me. I know I shall finish strong.

    Thanks BN for sharing, I’m extremely encouraged.

    • slice

      August 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      sorry Slim. what are you studying?>does your school offer tutors?

  16. cpr

    August 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Inspiring

  17. sassycassie

    August 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    congratulations, nina. I wish you God’s best. you showed them!

  18. Sir Farouk

    August 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Congratulations Beverly! Welcome to the Columbia Alumni Fam 🙂

  19. Bimpe

    August 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Congratulations babes but the reality is even with awesome grades, as a foreigner, it is difficult to make it in the journalism field in the US.

    I know one too many folks who graduated top of their class but struggle to maintain something solid here. it is no wonder that you see folks moving back to naija where they can truly have a fair chance of chasing their dreams.

    So do not be discouraged if yankee doesn’t work out, seek opportunities in Africa……It doesn’t have to be naija. All the best, don’t give up.

    • AMERICANAH

      August 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Bimpe, I agree with you 100%. Nina, if you want to go far, I would suggest working in a foreign country i.e. BBC, Al-Jazeera, etc.

  20. YEYEN

    August 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you very much everyone. God sends us people who can take us to where we need to be and out of most situations. You can never achieve success in anything alone. Let people help you. I really appreciate all your kind words and thank God for using me to inspire those in similar situations, just as others inspired me.

    • Nina

      August 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      It’s me Nina, signed in as Yeyen.

  21. labelle

    August 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    congrats dear

  22. Sleek-lady

    August 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Congrats to you dear

  23. Deedee

    August 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Congrats dear, so proud of you..

  24. John d Beloved

    August 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    nice piece…

  25. zoomzoomzoom

    August 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Congratulations Nina! Wishing you greater success in the future.

  26. kennie

    August 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    wohooo Nina!!! super proud of you hun! lots of love

  27. milly

    August 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Congrats Girl! Their stereotyping in the US is so dumb! If you were Chinese or Indian it would have been easy.

  28. Mimi

    August 5, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Go Nina Go! Whoop!!!

  29. sisieko

    August 5, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    congrats darl! this encouraged me a great deal!

  30. Shanday

    August 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Very inspiring piece. I thank God you for the good support system you had- God, Your mum, boyfriend. Having people that believe in you and encourage you makes the journey easier. I remember how it was for me doing my masters’ in the UK. It was much harder than I thought. At times I got so discouraged but I thank God for my family and my faith. Now, I’m a graduate. Big congrats to u Nina. Greater things to come

  31. cicimeleko

    August 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    TWO THUMBS WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY UP AND A STANDING OVATION; I I may not know you dear, but I sooooooooooo celebrate your success and open heart to life. pls tell who ever cares to listen that “the sky is big and blue enough to hold all the intelligent and adventurous minds out there and YOU NINA ARE HERE TO STAY!!!! well done dear.

  32. kiki

    August 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Point of correction… she attended Regina Pacis College Abuja Not Corona

    • Nina

      August 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Yes hun. You are right but I attended Corona Primary School in Lagos and then Regina Pacis at the secondary level.

  33. slice

    August 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Nina is beautiful

  34. mujer casada

    August 6, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Nina, your experience is very very negative coming from a top school like Columbia. very negative. I would hate anyone I know to go through that. I would like to see you post a series on Bella Naija with illustrations/a proper story line about your encounter. Columbia is an international school so they get the range in terms of accents and ESL (English as a Second Language). For this reason, I am eager to know the underlying premise of the negative feedback you received. Unless this is a unique feature of their journalism program. Either way, very negative press for Columbia. Elaboration is needed since there are excellent experiences that contradict yours coming out of the Mailman School of Public Health. the University ought to fix the problem if it is that bad!!! student should be encouraged, not dismissed and literally harassed.

  35. Farida

    August 6, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Congratulationzz Nina!! you have really inspired me to pursue my masters career, graduated a few months but was in doubt if i should pursue my masters degree but now i believe in myself that i can do it.. college wasnt easy for me either but with God he made it possible.. Congratzz once again nd God bless you in ur career.. you have done your family proud nd RP proud too 😀

  36. NNENNE

    August 6, 2013 at 2:34 am

    Congratulations!

  37. e-voice

    August 6, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Many Congrats! You were one of the red carpet hosts at a charity ball I attended in DC by the United for Kids Foundation. You did a great job. I wish you all the best in your career as you foster ahead….as for the professors that almost stole your confidence, their ways are history but your degree is yours to keep forever. Hugs

    • Nina

      August 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Haha! Yes, I was. Thank you oh! God bless

  38. Ofili

    August 6, 2013 at 8:37 am

    happy for you o. But this ya bio…e dey scare boy o ” Nina is an adventurer. She loves spending time at the shooting range.”

  39. Nina

    August 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Wow! thank you guys for all your positive feedback. I wish I could respond to everyone individually…To my friends, I thank you guys for always being supportive.To my old schoolmates(Corona, QC, Rp, Covenant, Columbia) we are all in the same journey and I pray we all turn out successfully. To all others who commented, I don’t know you but your words surely made my year. In fact, a lifetime. Thank you for sharing this with me. God bless you.

  40. ADA

    August 7, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Aww…God bless you through and through dear. More grease!

  41. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    August 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Its like Mother Theresa said: “God does not give us more than we can bear, I only wish he would not trust me so much”. God knew your limits and He needed to show you parts of yourself, not necessarily to make you stronger, but to teach you to give value to each piece.

  42. Imoh Eboh

    August 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Nina,thanks for sending me this link. You are so so an inspiration. Sister from another mum. Congrats the nth time. The sky is the beginning, I have been a supporter of Nina’s unique voice and sure she is talking for the world to hear. Always tuned in to hear you speak babe. Congratulations. God bless you. In the COZA way, I celebrate you.

  43. merci

    August 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I’m so inspired right now…very well done Nina.

  44. Sweet Mummy

    August 10, 2013 at 10:46 pm

    What shall I say unto the Lord? All I have to say is Thank You Lord! You have really come along way from that Chubby Baby to an Elegant, beautiful and Purposeful Lady that sure makes me proud. I pray for God’s Divine Direction and Uncommon Favour for you. Keep it up Girl.
    Your successes/achievements are my pride.BABY!

    • Nina

      August 11, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Thank you mommy. Your sacrifices are responsible. Love you very much.

  45. God's Girl

    August 15, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Congrats Nina so so proud of you! Never knew you went thru so many challenges. God bless!

  46. Aunty Amiso

    August 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Congrats, Nina. We are very proud of you! Yes, indeed, I remember the late night phone and Skype calls. You persevered and you succeeded! Nothing can stop you.

  47. Linda Ikem

    August 16, 2013 at 6:48 am

    Congratulations Nina dearie….I wish you all the very best in your career girl

  48. Ekoja Ehi

    August 16, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Nina, kngrats dear. Am so happy 4 u.

  49. Soraya

    September 23, 2013 at 1:22 am

    I don’t understand how this girl could have taken discrimination and lack of encouragement from her professors lying down- I would have made a big drama out of it so that no-one else would never have to go through what she did. I had a supervisor at an elite who was nasty to me and I thought she was racist- but it turned out she just wasn’t a nice person and she drove another student she was supervising to the brink of madness!

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