Growing up in an environment where being rich was glorified more than having a good name, where the end seems to justify the means, was a nightmare. It’s an environment where people expect you to cover up for the crime of your colleague in the guise of fairness; “you just have to be fair”, they say, “put yourself in his/her shoes”. It is a situation where you are expected to supply answers to your classmates in the examination hall because you are the intelligent one. Therefore, you must help the not-so-intelligent so that you can all pass together and graduate as a class. The fact that most of the so called not-so-intelligent waste their time on frivolities when they are meant to be studying makes you feel terrible at times, but you can’t help it. You must help them to be a caring classmate; it doesn’t matter what your definition of exam ethics is all about.
Growing up in such an environment, it’s no longer surprising that one sees vice as a way of life. You suffer mockery for being upright. The popular adage is, “if you can’t beat them, you join them”. Hell no! Do not join them. I choose to be odd in that sense, but it was a choice with so many challenges, ranging from being called a wicked girl or being mockingly referred to as a saint (Mary Amaka), even to the extent of losing majority of my friends.
Despair and depression were not far-fetched from me, as most times I felt I was alone in this type of society. Thanks to few friends who shared my ideology and my parents who provided encouragement, who constantly reminded me that hard work comes with a reward.
As I continued to struggle with the stigma of being the stranger in my environment, I heard about CSAAEINC. The joy I received while browsing through the organization’s site was inexplicable. Finally, I found an organization that is unique, that teaches and supports those ready to dare the odds! It felt great to find people of like minds, a network of young individuals with goals and objectives akin to mine. It renewed my enthusiasm to keep up with my plan, to continue my pursuit for what is right, not by the definition of the majority. I became more hopeful that people in my environment would someday make this paradigm shift.
Defying the odds demands constant evaluation of one’s integrity. Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that one adheres to. It is generally a personal choice to hold oneself to consistent moral and ethical standards. It is synonymous with honesty and sincerity. A person of integrity is a person of credibility, and that’s the path CSAAEINC carves for its members, the path I have chosen to follow.
As individuals, each of us should have moral principles guiding us. Keep to those principles and be guided by them. Such lifestyle attracts respect and recognition.
For the youth, one great way to aspire to greatness is to have role models. The likes of Dora Akunyili, Nelson Mandela, Achebe Chinua, Martin Luther King Jr., etc., stand out for generations to come. My goal here is to challenge our youth not to be swayed by the crowd. The crowd doesn’t determine morality, conviction does. Ask yourself this question: What do I want to be remembered for? What legacy do I leave behind in the end?
Federal University of Technology, Owerri.