By Lawani Mikairu
Two-time winner of the NB Plc sponsored National Reading Competition; Miss Chisom Mildred Okpala has been offered a four-year scholarship to study at Harvard University, United States of America.
The National Reading Competition is an annual general knowledge competition among secondary schools students in Nigeria. The competition is in three stages ; states, zonal, and national finals.And students are asked written general knowledge questions at state level before been given specific books to read at zonal and final levels.
Chisom, who is 18, and ranked No. 1 among those that applied, got admitted to Harvard with a $62,050 (N9.5 million Naira) scholarship a year to be increased each year as school fees increase. The scholarship covers tuition, room and board, personal expenses (pocket money), travel allowance (flight to the US and an international vacation during the holidays) and health insurance. This scholarship offer was made possible because Harvard has the highest endowment fund for any university in the world, which is $25 billion.
Planning to study Economics and Computer Science in addition to doing a minor in Creative Writing, Chisom said Harvard admitted just 6% of the record number of applicants this year and she was honoured to be part of the incredibly low but distinguished 6%.
Speaking on how her success in the National Reading Competition had stood her in good stead for clinching the scholarship, she said “I don’t think my acceptance to Harvard would have been possible without the National Reading Competition.
As part of supplementary materials for my application, I submitted newspaper pages on which I was featured for my victory at the two editions of the Competitions. I think it caught their fancy because the admissions officer who interviewed me mentioned something about it”.
Chisom emerged winner in the third and fourth editions of the competition in 2008 and 2009. On each occasion, she was awarded a laptop and cash prize of N200,000. She also won for her school, two desk-top computers, two printers and books worth N650,000.