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Okunna: What a Woman!

By Val Obienyem

Receiving an early morning call from Prof. Chinyere Stella Okunna was out of the ordinary. When I answered her call on that significant day, she introduced me to the professional journalism course offered by Paul University, where she holds the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academics. Despite listing numerous reasons why I was hesitant to pursue the programme, she brushed aside all my concerns and steadfastly believed that I required it as a foundation to support the level I had achieved in journalism, even without having formal qualifications in the field.

During our dinner conversation, Prof. Okunna became the subject of our light-hearted discussion as I shared the matter with my wife. Reflecting on her actions, my wife remarked, "I believe one of her hobbies, or perhaps what truly brings her joy, is witnessing people's advancement." After careful contemplation, I made the choice to enroll in the course. "Now you're making a wise decision. With your exceptional writing skills, you might eventually become a Media Consultant. You never know when and how a professional certificate could prove invaluable," the Prof. commented.

After dedicating three semesters to rigorous academic pursuit, we have successfully completed the program. Adding to this positive development was the Senate's endorsement of Okunna's proposal, following her comprehensive explanation, to elevate the programme from a Professional Diploma to a Post Graduate Diploma. She urged all of us to consider pursuing a Master's in Mass Communication as well, a programme that has recently received approval from the National Universities Commission (NUC) for Paul University.

Anyone who participated in the programme can vouch for its exceptional quality. The educators chosen for the course were top-tier professors/ lecturers  from various universities in the South-East. Additionally, we were tasked with composing a long essay as a prerequisite for graduation, which Prof. ensured met all the necessary standards. Despite requests from the class for online lectures, Prof. declined, emphasizing that the most effective learning still occurs when teachers and students engage in face-to-face interaction.

The most bewildering aspect was that Prof. offered a tuition reduction( In her account) for all the students, who happened to be practicing journalists as part of her individual social responsibility. However, when it came to mine, she declined to provide a subsidy, maintaining that I could manage the payment without difficulty.

The professor guided us through two courses, and her exceptional teaching skills became evident. Today, I proudly identify myself as one of Prof. Okunna's students, joining the ranks of distinguished individuals like Dr. Tony Onyima, former MD of Sun and former Commissioner of Information in Anambra State, as well as notable journalists like Ike Abonyi. Even Chijioke Precious, SAN, once shared with me how Okunna taught her and helped her excel in her class, earning prizes for her exceptional performance. Now, I too am one of her former students. I hold this experience dear, just as I value the formal education I received in my master's and doctorate programmes  under the guidance of my long-standing boss and mentor, Prof. Okey Ikechukwu. One of the assignments she gave us was to analyze Mr. Peter Obi's speech at Chatham House, incorporating relevant theories of mass communication.

On the day of our final exams, the Prof. did something incredible – she treated us to a feast of rice and swallow, along with generous servings of chicken and beef. Malt drinks and non- alcoholic wine were also in abundance, although beer was conspicuously absent, as the Prof. had a strong aversion to anything that might lead from sobriety to tipsiness.

My concluding recommendation: I urge you to join the programme. Its excellence and depth are unparalleled.

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