Sixteen-year-old Valour Mbre-Inyang, who had nine A1s in all his subjects in the 2022 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and scored 343 in the United Tertiary Matriculation Examination of the same year, tells GODFREY GEORGE about his plans for the future.
Tell us more about you.
I am from the Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. I am the second child but the first son of my parents. I have an elder sister.
You had a stellar performance in the 2022 WASSCE, passing all nine papers with A1 grades. Did you see it coming?
Honestly, I expected it. Anything less than nine A1s would have been disappointing for me. This is because I know the amount of work I had put in and the things I had sacrificed for the exam. It wasn’t really a shock to me or my parents. They all know the kind of goals I set for myself. Making A1 in Marketing, Economics, Civic Education, English Language, Further Mathematics, General Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Technical Drawing is amazing.
When you saw the result, what ran through your mind?
Well, when my dad found out that the WASSCE results were going to be released on that day, he said he would check it later in the day. He then called me later and showed me my result. For one, I was happy mostly because all my work did not go in vain. Everything that I had done to get to that point didn’t go to waste. The burst of excitement just ran through me. My dad and mum were also happy and proud.
What was the motivation for you?
My main motivation has to be my parents. They have done a lot for me so I knew I had to make them proud with my result. What better way than to clear my papers with A1? They have given me the best of life; I had to give them the best. Whenever I am studying and I get discouraged or tired, I always remember them and I just feel the strength to continue pushing. They also instilled in me this passion for excellence. My mum tells me that if I excel, I open myself to the world, people would know me and I would have a lot of opportunities. I kept that in mind because I wanted to excel. I have also heard of persons who have had nine A1s. I used to tell myself that if someone can make nine A1s, what will stop me from being in that number?
What school did you attend?
Topfaith International School, Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
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How did the school authorities receive the news?
I guess they were happy because a lot of the school directors called me. I was the only one with nine A1s in my school. The chairman of the school even promised to gift me with $1,000. We have yet to get it but we are expecting it and will soon go there to get it.
There were also reports that you excelled in the UTME. Can you tell us about it?
Yes, I did. I scored 343 out of 400. I also emerged at my International English Language Testing System examination with a band score of 8.0 out of 9.0. I also scored 1,480 out of1,600 on the Scholastic Assessment Test. I was awarded the best graduating student and valedictorian of my set. I also got A-stars in all five Cambridge O-level subjects: English language, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Additional mathematics.
Have you always been an A student?
Yes, I have. I was the best graduating student during my primary school days, sweeping all awards during my graduation. I have always been in the first position in my class throughout primary and secondary. I represented Akwa Ibom State in the 2016 National Mathematics competition for primary school and took the first position.
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Would you say the kind of training you had has influenced your academic performance?
It has been fantastic so far. I have been blessed with very good and godly parents that taught, groomed and imbibed in me beautiful morals and virtues that have guided me. There have been some setbacks at one point or another, but my parents have always been there to support me in my academic journey and others.
When I was much younger, my parents would buy me books and urge me and my other siblings to read and summarise them. That helped me a lot in making me learn how to read and comprehend. They also sent me to good schools that have good teachers and facilities. This has helped me equip myself with the adequate skills that I need to succeed.
Can you tell us about your parents?
My parents are not poor people. We are well-to-do. At least, we can take care of ourselves.
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What do they do?
My dad is a computer scientist while my mom is a medical doctor.
Do you have a reading pattern?
I always read my books every day. I make sure I read the notes I take down every day I leave class because I know there is a tendency to forget over time. So, it stays fresh in my memory. The next day, when I am taught something new, I still read it and accumulate knowledge. It helps. My parents also taught me to always read to understand. The mistake most pupils make is to cram or pass exams; it doesn’t always work. When one reads to understand the concept of how the things they are taught work in the real world, it is easier to replicate in the exam. The good thing is the knowledge will stay in your memory even after the exams are over.
Was there a challenging paper in the WASSCE?
Of course, yes. There was a point during my Chemistry Practical paper when I made a drastic error in one of the experiments. Everything just started going wrong. My values were wrong so I had to cancel a lot and write a lot of things off. My work was so wrong. My classmates who saw what happened were asking me if I could still pass that subject. Then, I kept on believing and trusting God that I would get an A because I had worked hard. I worked even harder in the objective and theory papers to cover up.
I did sacrifice some of my sports periods so I could have more time to study. I love sports a lot because I knew that there was something big ahead of me. I had to cut down the time I used to play and put more into my studies. I read more during those periods and it paid off.
What about friends?
My friends were not bad people. My parents already told me to make good friends who were also like me and would encourage me to make good grades. All my friends have the same passion for excellence and zest to succeed. I personally selected my friends. They were people who could help improve me. They also made excellent grades and were the best in our set.
Has any university reached out to you with offers for scholarships?
Yes, we have had a few offers but we are not sure what we are going to do. They are mostly from foreign universities in the Netherlands, Canada, Germany and the like.
What course would you like to study at university?
I would love to do Mechatronics and Robotics in college.
I have always loved the concept of robots. Whenever I see a movie where there are robots doing things like humans, it intrigues me. I always see possibilities in artificial intelligence. Movies are one of my strongest propellers in this field. I want to make those things I watch in movies happen in real life.
What do your parents think about that?
They are pretty comfortable with robotics. They have no issues with it.
What is the big dream for you? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In the next couple of years, I would love to start up a tech company, one that can compete with the likes of Amazon, Apple and Google. I know it won’t be easy but I will persevere and put in my all.
What advice do you have for other kids who aspire to be like you?
I will tell them to be focused on their studies. One thing my parents always tell me is that there is time for everything in life. The time anyone is in school is a time where one must focus on their books and study hard. They must try their best to avoid all forms of distractions from social media and friends. Once one is done with this phase, one has a lot of time to do a lot of things that they want. For now, their academic work should be number one.
How were you able to overcome the challenges that came with online learning after the outbreak of COVID-19?
My parents were a big help here. It was with their help that I was able to overcome some of these distractions. They always kept reiterating that there was time for everything. When I used my phone at a time when I was supposed to be reading, they shunned me and urged me to take up my books.
With what you have achieved academically, what are you most grateful for?
I am grateful to God for the kind of parents I have – Mr Mbre and Mrs Imaobong Inyang. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this great feat. They have continuously supported me, and they have kept on helping me and disciplining me. I am very grateful. They are the best parents in the world.