One of the 475 students who graduated from the American University of Nigeria (AUN) on Saturday is Mary Katambi.
Ms Katambi bagged a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting seven years after she narrowly escaped from the grips of murderous Boko Haram terrorists who stormed her school dormitory in Chibok in 2014 and trucked away 276 girls.
She said she escaped by sneaking out of the camp of the terrorists and trudging through the forest back to her village. A few months later, Ms Katambi and 24 other colleagues, who either escaped from the terrorists or were released, arrived at AUN and were admitted for a foundational programme specially created for them by the university.
In 2016, after passing her school certificate and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), she was admitted for a degree in accounting, with a full scholarship provided by AUN.
On Saturday, Ms Katambi, dressed in a red academic gown and a red cap, beamed with smiles and those familiar with her strides said there were new steps in her steps as she marched to the podium to receive her certificate from AUN President, Margee Ensign.
“I am so proud of her,” Ms Ensign told PREMIUM TIMES hours after the ceremony. She demonstrated strength, resilience and character. She taught us all how to survive and thrive in the face of adversity. She showed us that even if we go through trauma, there’s always a way out. She and her colleagues are our heroes.”
AUN Founder, Atiku Abubakar, also praised Ms Katambi’s staying power. “Mary Katambi, I’m proud that seven years after your release from Boko Haram captivity, you’ve beaten the odds to graduate with a degree in accounting from the American University of Nigeria. The best years are still ahead of you,” the former Nigerian vice president said in a post on his Facebook page.
The post was accompanied by photographs Mr Atiku took with the new graduate at the commencement ceremony.
Now out of school, what next for the budding accountant? Ms Ensign said she offered Ms Katambi a job at AUN but that she declined, saying after seven years, she would like to venture out of Yola, where her university is based, to experience life elsewhere.
Ms Katambi described her academic journey in AUN as incredible. “I can’t even describe how I feel now,” she told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone on Sunday morning. “It’s such a big honour. I’m really grateful and excited at the opportunity I was given to study at AUN. I also cannot forget my Boko Haram ordeal and how God brought me out.”
On her next plans, she said she would immediately proceed for national service after which she would start a business she was already working on. She said she will also do a masters degree in her field along the line.
“I don’t want to be looking for a job,” she said. “I want to run a business and create jobs for Nigerian youth.”
When asked what kind of business she would be starting, she laughed and then said it was premature to disclose that information.
The extremist Boko Haram sect had on April 14, 2014, abducted Ms Katambi and 275 other girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok. A presidential committee said 57 of the girls immediately escaped from their abductors.
When the President Muhammadu Buhari administration came to power in 2015, it began negotiation with the Boko Haram sect. That yielded the release of 21 of the girls in October 2016 and another 82 in May 2017.
Not much has been heard of the remaining 112 girls, although the Federal Government says it is still working on getting them released.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...