Alumni Success Stories: Inspirational Stories of Nigerian Graduates

by Susan Oyeniyi-Israel
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Success stories

Every year, Nigerian universities produce around 500,000 – 600,000 graduates. It is impossible to keep track of even 1% of these graduates yearly. However, if you pick a random Nigerian university, you’d find famous and widely acclaimed alumni of such schools worldwide, celebrated and admired by so many people. 

The stories you are about to read are of people who have done excellently during and after leaving school. It is proof that greatness can come from anywhere if you put your mind to it. We hope that their stories serve as inspiration to you.

Inspirational Stories of Nigerian Graduates

  1. Ibukun Awosika

Alumni success stories

Many know Ibukun Awosika as the business magnate and motivational speaker who has helped to transform the lives of many. This was not always so. Ibukun completed her primary and secondary school education in Lagos, after which she went on to study Chemistry at Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife.

She had initially wanted to study architecture; however, she graduated with a B.Sc in Chemistry along with proof of elective courses in accounting. Ibukun Awosika never let go of her passion for architecture and furniture, working as a showroom manager at Alibert Nigeria Ltd. She finally established her furniture company, The Chair Centre Ltd, which merged with Guaranty Trust Bank in 2004.

Ibukun Awosika’s knowledge of accounting and finance gave her the honor of being the first woman to be appointed Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria on September 7, 2015. She is also one of the five Nigerian entrepreneurs to appear in the African version of Dragon’s Den.

She has written books for women and aspiring women in business. They include; The Girl Entrepreneurs, Business His Way, and Girls In the Boardroom, among others. Ibukun Awosika is a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and financial inclusion. 

She is the founder of The Afterschool Graduate Development Centre, a non-profit organization that provides training and support to young people to help them develop their careers. Currently, Ibukun Awosika gives inspiring business and career seminars, impacting the lives of young Nigerians all over. Her story is about fighting for your passion and turning it into something worthwhile. 

  1. Onyema Ogbuagu

Alumni success stories

Dr. Onyema is best known for being a leading actor in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials. He is an infectious diseases physician, educator, researcher, and clinical trial investigator. He was born as a twin to Nigerian parents who were doctoral students at the University of Yale and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively. They had returned to Nigeria when Onyema and his brother were five years old. 

Onyema graduated from the College of Medical Sciences, University of Calabar, Nigeria, and then completed his internship at the Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital. He is currently an associate professor at Yale School of Medicine. In 2015, he was elected a fellow of the American College of Physicians. 

He is also known to train physicians in Liberia and Rwanda in the infectious disease department. He received an award from the Rwanda College of Physicians for his contribution to the fight against infectious diseases on February 18, 2020. Dr. Onyema has been able to find his footing and do excellently as a product of the University of Calabar, Nigeria. Truly an alumni success story to inspire and push you forward.

Read also: Popular Habits of Highly Successful People

  1. Peter Gregory Obi

Alumni success stories

Another success story you probably already know about is that of the widely supported 2023 Presidential election candidate, Peter Obi. The former governor of Anambra state is seen as a true and patriotic Nigerian among many.

Peter Obi was admitted into the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in Philosophy. He served in various companies and is known for being the youngest chairman of Fidelity Bank.

Some of the companies he served before he became Governor of Anambra state include; Next International Nigeria Ltd., Chairman and Director of Guardian Express Mortgage Bank Ltd., Guardian Express Bank Plc, Future View Securities Ltd., Paymaster Nigeria Ltd, and Chams Nigeria Ltd., among others.

Through his unconventional inclusion of the youth, Peter Obi gained the support of Nigerians under 30 during the 2023 Presidential campaign. Although he lost to the current president of Nigeria, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he is still very influential and constantly sought after in many places worldwide. 

Some of his awards over the years include; This Day’s Most Prudent Governor in Nigeria (2009), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Best Performing Governor on Immunization in South-East Nigeria (2012), Silverbird’s Man of the Year (2013), Distinguished Alumnus Award – Lagos Business School Alumni Association (LBSAA) (2014).

  1. Elohor Aiboni

Alumni success stories

Even though we are constantly evolving into an era where women are increasingly getting into positions of power, the level of achievements Elohor Aiboni has to her name is greatly profound. In the world of Oil, Gas, and Petroleum Engineering, it is always a big deal to see women in high positions in the industry.

Elohor Aiboni was appointed the managing director of Shell Nigeria in August 2021. In over 60 years of Shell operations in Nigeria, Elohor Aiboni is the first woman to become managing director of the company in Nigeria. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Benin, Nigeria. She also has her master’s degree in Integrated Environmental Management from the University of Bath, U.K.

Aiboni has over 19 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, working in various roles at Shell, including production operations, project and asset management, and operations readiness and assurance. She is a highly skilled and experienced engineer and a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Aiboni’s appointment as Managing Director of SNEPCo is a significant milestone for gender diversity in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. She inspires women and girls everywhere, and her success story shows that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

  1. Oby Ezekwesili

Oby Ezekwesili

Oby Ezekwesili is well known as a former vice president for the World Bank’s Africa Region and Co-founder of the #BringBackOurGirls Movement. She was born in Anambra state and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, as well as a master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.

Ezekwesili served as the Federal Minister of Solid Minerals from 2005 to 2006 and the Federal Minister of Education from 2006 to 2007. During her time as Minister of Education, she implemented several reforms, including increasing education funding, improving teaching quality, and building new schools. She is also credited with reducing corruption in the education sector.

In 2007, Ezekwesili was appointed Vice President for the World Bank’s Africa region. She oversaw more than 1600 staff and was responsible for delivering projects and economic and sectoral work in 47 Sub-Saharan countries. Ezekwesili is a passionate advocate for good governance and transparency in Africa. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the Time 100 Most Influential People in the World (2014) and the New African Woman of the Year (2014).

Read also: 5 Nigerian Women in Business: Challenges and Success Stories.

Alumni Success Stories of Some Nigerian Students

Nigerian students have a long history of academic excellence domestically and internationally. Despite the challenges of the Nigerian education system, many Nigerian students have overcome obstacles to achieve their educational goals and go on to successful careers.

Nigerian students are significantly advancing society in a wide range of subjects, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, law, business, and the arts. They inspire the entire world and are role models for other young Nigerians. Some of them include;

  1. Oluwafemi Ayodele Omole

 A 2022 graduate of the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), made history by becoming the first Nigerian student to win the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. Omole is a talented computer scientist passionate about using technology to solve real-world problems. 

  1. Olamide Olusanya

A 2021 graduate of the University of Lagos who was awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. Olusanya is a brilliant student with a strong interest in social justice and international development.

  1. Adeshina Emmanuel

A 2020 graduate of the University of Ibadan. He was awarded the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship to study at Harvard University. Emmanuel is a gifted mathematician with a passion for using his skills to improve the lives of others.

  1. Rashid Ali

A successful entrepreneur and CEO of FINCA Nigeria who dropped out of school to help his father support the family. However, he was determined to get an education, and he eventually went back to school and earned a degree from the University of Lagos.

These and many more young Nigerians have made names for themselves during and outside of their tertiary education. 

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Writing Your Success Story

These people you’ve just read about grew up and studied in the universities you’re now students of. If that did not hinder them from making something of themselves, be rest assured the following tips and practices will help you write your own story too.

  1. Set goals for yourself

The biggest enemy of success is not having a goal. Limitations also occur when you do not have a clear plan of how to achieve your goal. You have to ask yourself what you want to achieve in school and where your degree can open opportunities for you. Following the path becomes easy once you have a clear plan of the goal you want to achieve. 

Read also: The Best Ways to Set Achievable Goals

  1. Ask for help when you need it

Many people find it difficult to ask for help because of the misconception that asking for help is a sign of weakness. This is not so. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or assistance when needed. It becomes overwhelming when you have to do many things for yourself, so take every help you can get. Ask your lecturers, classmates, or parents for help if you’re struggling with something.

  1. Take breaks

Even machines take breaks. You can’t write a success story without taking a breather once in a while. Taking breaks is not giving up; you’re simply recharging and refreshing yourself for the next task. It is very important to factor in the necessity of breaks and rest to avoid the breakdowns and frustration of overworking yourself.

  1. Be organised

An underrated time waster is not having everything you need in the place it should be. If you do not have one, get a planner and take note of your tasks, assignments, and projects. You can categorise them by time, intensity, and importance.  Organisation gives you time to learn new skills which may be useful in the future.

  1. Diligence and perseverance

Being a tertiary institution student is never rosy, but it’s also not forever. This is why you should keep in mind that what is worth doing is worth doing well. If you’re going to be an excellent student, you have to persevere. Always read your books, attend classes, and create a convenient schedule.

These are also important in writing your success story;

  •  Create a study plan.
  • Participate in class and social activities.
  • Connect with people who have the same focus as you.
  • Do not forget to ask for opinions and reviews of projects you’re tackling from experienced people.
  • Always keep a positive mindset in everything you do.

Read also: A Simple Guide to Effective Note-taking for Nigerian Students


It is one thing to do well and another to do excellently well. These people have done well and written their success stories, which you now read. This is in hopes that you’re motivated to keep pushing and taking it one step at a time, never relenting, never giving up. 

You can always find more motivation and career development opportunities by being a part of organizations like:

  • Lady With Balls, Nigeria
  • Career Edge Nigeria
  • Hybrid Career 

Who knows? In a few years, we could be reading your success story too!

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Edited by Oluwanifemi Akintomide.

About Author

Avatar of Susan Oyeniyi-Israel
Susan Oyeniyi-Israel
Student of Philosophy||Writer||Baker|| Content Writer|| Student Journalist|| Video Creative. I love books, anime, and games.

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