This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Monday, December 24, 2012

In the Spirit of Christmas...

Speedily pulling my car into the post office parking lot, I jumped out of my car and raced into the building clutching a bulky envelope to my chest like my life depended on it.

"Ma'm we are closed. We closed at noon", the post office attendant said looking away in a stereotypical "post office worker" attitude.

Deciding to pretend not to hear what he called me, I looked at my watch. It was 12.05pm. 

I softened my face into a pleading smile and said "please, just one package." 

"No ma'm we already closed. I already let one person in a minute ago" he replied, this time sternly.

*Oh No he didn't just call me ma'm again.*  I was about to get upset and give up sending my last christmas gift out when I suddenly thought to try an idea sparked by the numerous christmas movies I had seen.

" the spirit of Christmas", I said with a big smile.

His face immediately softened. 

"Okay c'mon". He said, defeatedly.

It works! 'The spirit of Christmas' is still alive.  The angry postman stretched a bit to help me in the spirit of Christmas. By accommodating me at my late hour, he gave me a gift "in the spirit of Christmas".

Family. Friends. Food. Weddings. Jesus' birthday. Anniversaries. Parties. Music. Church plays. Money. a New outfit. Soccer Games. Love. Family again.

Those words come to mind when I think about Christmas growing up in Nigeria. Those contributed to the spirit of Christmas. It was a special time. People came together from all over to be together, to celebrate and to enjoy each other's company. The best memory I have of Christmas as a child is spending it in my father's village in Nigeria when my cousins and I would dress up in our new Christmas outfits just to walk a mile to the soccer field to watch the local teams from the nearby villages play.  We would hound all our uncles and aunties to "gba anyi Christmas". This meant to give us money, just because it was Christmas....Every older person gave us money "in the spirit of Christmas". We would then count all our money on the 31st to see who collected the most. I remember one christmas when I had collected N400 (four hundred naira), which is now equivalent to only about $3. But mehnnn, did I think I was rich.

We would hang up christmas cards and decorations around the house. We'd put together christmas songs and dances and perform together for our parents and grandmother. We'd visit family and friends where we'd get to eat, drink a lot of mineral (soda) and meet second and third cousins who lived abroad. We'd hang outside in the compound till late at night eating suya (openly grilled meat in special sauce) and playing WHOT cards. We'd use a good amount of our money to buy knock-outs (fireworks) and play with them in the compound. Thinking about it now, those were probably dangerous for us to be playing with...hehe but those were the little things that made my childhood amazing. I looked forward to Christmas every year.

A whole lot has changed since then....both in my world and the people who live in it.

But one thing hasn't changed....the true "spirit of Christmas"...In fact, no matter how many people or cultures choose to ignore it or replace with commercialism, it will never change- Jesus, The reason for the season IS the spirit of Christmas. Christmas marks the day He was born...and for Christian's everywhere, it is the beginning of salvation. It is OUR genesis because without this day, we'd still be lost and hopeless. 
Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves.  ~Eric Sevareid
I say that to inspire you to take a moment in the midst of your celebrations, the food, the family, the gifts and the everything else eventful about Christmas, to dwell on the "spirit of Christmas" say a prayer appreciating the center of this holiday...Jesus and his birth....To take a moment to thank God for the gift of Jesus...the greatest gift of say "Happy Birthday Jesus". I hope as you open your presents today that you will open your hearts in the same way to meditate on the implications of this day in your life

No matter what season you're in your life today, my prayer for you is that as you live the true spirit of Christmas, you'd continue to create memories worth celebrating and seasons worth living.
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;Love was born at Christmas;Star and angels gave the sign.~Christina Rossetti
To all NwaVic readers out there, like Jose Feliciano sang many years, I wanne wish you a merry christmas from the bottom of my heart :-)

Feliz Navidad! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Our Hearts Are Broken Today...

It was supposed to be a good day. I added another year. So did my older sister birthday mate. I was grateful for a fruitful year. I was ecstatic to spend the day receiving well wishes from all my loved ones. Today was supposed to be my Happy Birthday...and nothing else. My phone was beeping all charger was probably tired of doing its job. 

But This beep was different. It was a Washington Post breaking news alert.

It read "At least 27 people are dead, including 18 children, in a shooting at an elementary school in Newton, Connecticut".

What?!? "Oh Lord not again!"

These innocent children. These pain-stricken parents. Not just before Christmas!

Today, while being gracious for the blessing of witnessing another birthday, my whole being is overwhelmed with grief for the 18 sets of parents who said "See you later" to their children this morning and would never see them alive. My heart weeps for the children, all between 5 and 10 years, who probably spent their last moments in disabling fear.

They were just children.
Now 20 children. Gone.
Just like that.

I can't help but ask myself what world will my unborn children come in? Are we ever safe? What would ever justify this mass loss of innocent lives? Why do we continue to be plagued with tragedies perpetuated by people who live among us. Why do these shootings occur in schools, a "supposed" learning safe haven?

So many unanswered questions. As we try to make sense of this great loss, we must take time to pray for the lost souls and more so, to appreciate life and the people in it. 

Even the President weeped.... "Our hearts are broken today....they had their entire lives ahead of a country we have been through this too many times...these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children".
I pray for all the innocent darlings who lost their lives today. I pray for all the teachers and administrators who truly gave up their lives to protect the children. I pray for all the families who will spend Christmas with one less person. I pray for the surviving children who were prematurely robbed of their innocence today.

May the souls of all those who died today in the Newton Connecticut school shooting rest in perfect peace. Only God can grant all those grieving grace and peace that passeth all understanding to survive this loss. 


Full story and updates here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

7 Signs You're Ready to Get Married

Howdy! How's everyone doing? I'm not too "fine" considering I spent hours at the dentist this morning. I always say I feel about my dentist the same way Rihanna feels about Chris Brown- I love him but I hate what he does to me :-/

In my attempt to ignore my aching mouth, I went on Yahoo to read the top stories and came across this article by Annie Daly published on Yahoo and the Cosmopolitan. It inspired me and because this blog is about posting my inspirations, I owe it to you.

More so, in the wake of my recent posts on 7 Keys to a Successful Marriage and 7 Keys to Finding a Good Husband, I think it fits perfectly in this space, at this time. After all, before you find a good husband or say "yes", you have to make you're ready to be married to that person.

In this day and age, when divorce (and divorce parties), especially at a young age, is as rampant as weddings, its imperative that you're "ready" before making that lifetime commitment. Yesterday, I watched  the movie "The 5 year engagement" and in an attempt to cheer up the Bride-to-be, her friend said "Cheer up its your wedding. You only get a few of these in your lifetime". What??? The Bible intends for you to get only one of those in life- that's why its called a lifetime commitment, making it crucial that you and your partner are ready to "decide" to commit. Forever.

Like I said, I didn't write the post, the relationship experts did. But because this is my space, I'll comment beneath every point based on personal knowledge. My comments are in red :-)

1. You've Dated Around 
We're not saying you have to pull a Jen Aniston and go through tons of dudes before you find The One. But having a few solid long term relationships under your belt does help you figure out what qualities are important to you and what makes a relationship work-so you truly appreciate your future hubs when you find him. 

Hmm, a few is vague. I would think the ideal number of relationships depends on the length of those relationships. If we're talking 1-3 years, 2 relationships will teach you all you need to know. If we're talking 3 and above years, one is enough, in my opinion. 

2. You Share Similar Goals 
Let's say he wants to do the suburbia thing stat, while you'd love to travel the globe for a few years. If you get hitched, one of you will end up're in separate mind-sets right now and prioritize different things. Settle down with a man you're more or less on the same page with: you both want to live in the city, you both want (or don't want) kids, etc. 

This is pretty much right-on-the-money. You definitely do not want to start to argue about the number of kids after you're married or have to trick your partner into a baby. Your partner will not change automatically because you have a baby. For instance, don't expect a man to be a good father to a child he did not want.

Eh heh! This is a good time to speak to all those girls who get pregnant so the man will marry you. It never works. He may marry you indeed, but you'd have forced a man into a commitment he's not ready for. You'll be married on paper, alright (that's if he's pressured into doing the "right" thing) but will you have a "real marriage" like God intended? Please don't trap a man into marrying you by getting pregnant, then expect him not to cheat. You'd even be worse off stuck in a marriage with a child and a husband who's not interested in being married to you, than as single girl. But I digress...

3. You Don't Want to Change Him 
Look, you don't have to adore everything about your guy. But you do have to make peace with the fact that he's always going to sack out on the couch and be glued to ESPN on Sunday afternoons, and he'll never stop slurping the milk in his cereal no matter how many times you say it annoys you. You can't change a man (but you can tweak him), and trying to will make you frustrated...not to mention bitchier. 

Very true. But a little upgrading here and there will not hurt. With his consent ofcourse. For example, if you marry a man who could care less about what he's wearing. My mother used to pick out my dad's outfits. He probably protested at first but by the time I was a teenager, it became  a routine that he depended on. And he always looked good ;-)

Another instance is where you have a messy husband who steps out of his boxers and leaves them on the floor whether they dropped (I know many like this!). You can work out a middle ground with him. Maybe keep a basket where he normally takes off his clothes so he can dump in there. That much change is foreseeable but changing him to the point where he'll hang them up immediately? If you succeed, please let me know...I know many wives who'd appreciate your secret. :-)

More importantly, in a good relationship, each person should be willing to be a better person for the person they're with. After all, the point is to compliment each other. For example, if your partner is not a motivated individual, you can find ways that work for their personality to inspire them to strive harder and higher.  Or if your partner is a lazy Christian, you can enrich his relationship with God by scheduling times to pray and read the Bible together. In a good relationship, your partner should make you better. 

Don't call me corny for feeling the need to quote lyrics from one of my favorite songs 'Fabulous-Make me Better' here "I'm a movement by myself, but I'm a force when we're together....I'm good all by myself, but baby you, you make me better...I'm already fly, I'm already boss but if I'm a star, she is the star...though I'm hot, together we burn it up "

Okay you get the point....BUT if you want to listen, here's the song with the lyrics. #No Judging :-)

4. Your Connection Is Tight Out of Bed, Too 
When you first started seeing each other, staying between the sheets all weekend was pretty legit. But for your bond to be strong enough for the long haul, you need more than a physical connection-meaning you need to know that you can have just as much fun together with your clothes on as you do when they're off. 

To this, I'd have to say this- Even if you're staying celibate till marriage (which the Bible prescribes), the bottom line is to make sure that you're attracted to each other, not just physically but emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise. 

5. You're Not Living Out a Bridal Fantasy 
Sure, it seems like every time you sign onto Facebook, another pal has posted pics of herself in a stunning white gown. Sigh. But remember: Getting hitched isn't about the ceremony-it's about what happens after your big day. You'd better be thinking about your future life with him, not just your future bridal party photos (and how pretty they'll look in that fab silver frame). 

Enough said!!! Be sure you're ready for the marriage and not the wedding; that you're willing to commit to being a husband/wife and not just a bride/groom. Remember, this was intended to be a lifetime commitment. 

6. You Both Try to Resolve Fights 
After you have a disagreement, it may seem easiest to apologize and move on-you know, do the whole "pretend it never happened" thing and go forward. But sweeping conflicts under the rug only sets you up for a bigger blow-outs down the road, because the issues will likely resurface if left unresolved. If you can't talk things out rationally, you're not ready. 
The key here is open communication and effort. Every relationship (even one with God) requires effort. This is a good time to insert my feelings on couples who fight publicly and choose to embarrass themselves every time they get into an argument. Fighting is normal.  Every couple disagrees on a number of things. Again, this is NORMAL. where this gets crazy is when they decide to subject people around them to an embarrassing moment when they argue or fight in public or even involve the cops/police. If your argument with your partner demands the attention of the police, please rethink it. Seriously. 

When I say "fighting is normal", I mean verbal disagreements. Physical fighting is NOT normal people! No violence is normal. Period. If your man or woman hits you, you're not ready to get married. Rethink the relationship itself. If your partner verbally abuses you, please rethink too. Ogochukwu's story should be a lesson to all. 

My mother always taught me that rational behavior demands that all conflict be talked out, rationally and reasonably behind closed doors between the two people involved. There's absolutely NO need to involve the whole world when you want to settle an argument. I recognize that some fights are so big, you need outside input. In that case, it is best to seek advice reasonably from a counselor, pastor, mentor, a parent or a sibling but it has to be someone you trust enough to not only have your beet interests at heart, but is knowledgeable and experienced in relationship matters. 

See my post on 5 Tips on Making Difficult Decisions.  If your partner is quick to yap on the phone to his or her friend or willing to call the police about a simple argument you just had, please rethink the relationship, well except the fight is so bad, your life or safety is being threatened. 

7. Your Friends and Family Dig Him 
Of course, it's your life, so you have the final say. Thing is, choosing a partner is a big deal, and your inner circle's input does mean something. It's fine if a few family members or friends aren't huge fans of you two as a couple; you can't please 'em all. But if everyone seems to think you're a poor match, ask them why. They might be onto something. 

GOSPEL! Trust me, its easier when people around you like him (for you). If they don't, before you conclude that they are 'hating', hear them out. You never know, they may see something you're too 'blinded' to see.  But I must add that when I say "family and friends", I mean those who you trust and have proved to have your best interest at heart. Be careful here.

I'm so excited to hear what you think in your comments. Is there something missing from the list? 
P.S.- The pictures are from my big sister Ogo's wedding. :-)

Stay Inspired.....

SOURCES: Carole Altman, PhD, author of You can Be Your Own Sex Therapist; Carol J. Bruess, PhD, author of What Happy Couples Do; Marni Battista, relationship expert in Los Angeles; Jen Kirsch, relationship expert in Toronto for Cosmo TV's Love Track 

***email me at

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dear Carolyn, How Do I Force Myself to Be Happy For my Friends?

Happy Friday!

I'm an avid Carolyn Hax fan. She's a columnist for the Washington Post and I read her column everyday. Sometimes, just sometimes, I come across one that I really can't help but to share. 

Like yesterday.  The topic? Jealousy/Envy. It is a REAL emotion (AND one of the 7 deadliest sins listed in the Bible)- both being the giver and/or the receiver. If we'd admit it ourselves, even the person with the cleanest heart can get tempted to be jealous of another person. It's what you do with that feeling that matters. Acknowledge it first, then remind yourself of your own blessings. Moreover, my mom always says that it is being happy and celebrating for others that your own blessings come. I must add that you can't be a true friend to a person you're envious of. Personally, I cut off "friends" who show any signs of envy or unnecessary competition. Like I said in my 7 Mechanics of True Friendship and Curse of the Negatives posts, true friends should have mutual admiration for each other but never negativity. If someone you call your friend can't be genuinely happy for you and your achievements, cut them off. FAST!

But I digress....

The truth is that contentment is one of the hardest achievements for a human being. And I call it an "achievement" because it takes some will and self-direction to constantly remain in gratitude for the good in your life, especially when things seem dire. We always want what others have and sometimes, it seems like your problem is the biggest in the world. 

Like one of my friends mentioned last week, the truth is that if everyone was to expose their individual problems for grabs, you'll choose yours. Forget the facade, everyone is hurting somewhere. No one's life is perfect. Be content with yours. Focus on making YOU better and stop worrying about what others are doing or what they think about you.  God has entrusted you with yourself. You can't always make everything or everyone around you better, but you can always make yourself better!

Have a blessed weekend!

Oh yea....

Here's the Carolyn Hax letter that inspired the above mini-rant :-) Its worth the read!

Dear Carolyn:
You never seem to have a slow week, but I’m hoping you’ll get to my question.
How do I force myself to be happy for my friends?

They are all buying houses and taking fabulous vacations, while I am stuck in a studio apartment with no savings and years of student loans. I feel so jealous and angry that I can’t fake happiness for them, and my only proposed solution is to avoid them until I feel better.

And no, trying to be grateful for what little I do have has not helped me.

Helpless in Seattle

Dear Helpless in Seattle,
It needs to be a slow week for your question to matter? Are you always this quick to negate your own significance?

Yours is a legitimate problem, no less worthy than the others that appear here regularly.

One reason is its prevalence: There’s always someone who goes home to a better house in a better car.
Another reason is the impact: People who envy peers start to doubt themselves, which drains them of the resource they need most (a sense of self-worth), which then leads to reading random ups and downs as part of some cosmic conspiracy against them, which fuels the cycle of envy, anger and self-loathing.
There are ways out — but not by forcing yourself to love your apartment. It has to be through what you do. Such as, be an excellent friend/sibling/child/auntie/uncle, or a hardworking employee, a dedicated and compassionate volunteer, a nurturing pet owner, a fierce teammate, an uninhibited playmate/singer/dancer/artist, an insatiable reader, a generous host or cook — whatever taps into your best — thenbe proud and grateful you’re this way.
When you love your contribution, that’s when you’re able to say: “Yeah, nice house, but would I give up who I am to have it? No.” The fab house would require different choices, after all, and different choices would have created a different you.
Reaffirming your choices inoculates you against envy. Is it perfect, no — you’ll still gawk at a friend’s palace — but it’ll be a fleeting, not chronic, annoyance.

For Helpless:

You’re not alone! For nearly a decade I felt like I was barely treading water while my friends were off living fabulous lives. I resented them.

How I dealt with it: I just forced myself to focus on ME. I focused on getting out of debt, trying to earn more money, etc. I did avoid some of these friends. I just said it wasn’t personal, I needed time alone.
Some interesting things happened. That great big house my friend owned? Foreclosure. That luxury car? Leased or eight-year car loan. Overseas vacation? Maxed-out credit cards. That six-figure job? My friend got laid off. One friend actually told me he wished he had MY life.
You just don’t know what goes on in other people’s lives. . . . You have to focus on yours. So that’s what I did.
When you set and achieve smaller goals, it makes you feel more optimistic. I won’t lie — it took me a lot of time, but eventually I got to a less envious/resentful place.
Love this, thanks. Sometimes the luxury car is actually paid for, but your answer still applies: Set meaningful goals, work toward them, derive satisfaction accordingly.
Stay Inspired!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Survivors' Guide: How to Succeed in School

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This year, for the first time, I’m not enrolled in any kind of school. I’m done. Or so I say. Those who know me well enough don’t think I can stay away for too long. They claim they see a Ph.D in my future. My mother hopes I’d come back to Nigeria for a year to grab a Nigerian law degree. Right now, I’m working on convincing myself that I’m done…But if I say I’m not going through withdrawal symptoms, I’d be lying because the truth is that I’m really a nerd (I just hide it well ;-)).

So! Co-inspired and co-written by my brother-in-law, who is a final year M.D./M.B.A student at Harvard, this post exists for two reasons (1) to inspire undergraduate and graduate students and (2) to let me live vicariously through you all.

This post is dedicated specifically to graduate school (medical, law, Master’s, and Ph.D) students but will be extremely beneficial to undergraduate students as well.

Until I found myself in law school- from kindergarten to college, I’d always sailed through school. Two weeks into law school, I’d lost confidence in my “ability”; I was suddenly lost in translation…It seemed as if my entire educational life had been a lie- “Aha! I’m not smart after all”- is what I told myself. No matter how many times I contemplated another career path, no matter how many times, I fathomed heaven to be 8hrs of sleep without disturbing thoughts of 40 unread pages of contracts and no matter how many times I became convinced that I would rather work at McDonalds than sit through another lecture, I knew my parents didn’t raise a quitter. 

I say that to say that these tips are my “Get out of your rut and succeed” list. The day I began to actively do these things was the day I began to mark my return to confident sanity. Somehow, I found myself. Somehow, I convinced myself law school didn’t render me “unsmart”. Somehow, I actually began to understand the sounds resonating from my professor’s mouth. Somehow, I graciously made it.

If you’re reading this and you’re an undergraduate student, you have to realize that this isn’t high school. In the same way, if you’re reading this and you’re a graduate student (medical, law, Master’s or Ph.D), you’d have to first realize this isn’t undergrad. I say this to say that the higher you get in education, the bigger the expectations. My brother in law calls it “the pyramid effect of academia”. Which is to say that as you progress further in academia, there will be fewer peers and more expectations. In order to continue to rise up this pyramid and meet increasingly difficult demands, you must continually take several steps above and beyond what you are used to. For example, as an undergrad student, you can’t rely on the same level of output that propelled you to success in high school…unless you want to remain at the same level of high school achievement. “Step your game up”. The same principles apply upon transitioning from undergraduate to graduate school.

So here it goes…

1.  Mind-setting: The first thing you need to do when you start a new task (which is essentially what school is), is to KNOW what and why you are in there. Set goals. Remind yourself of how much you want this education and what you want to do with it. Knowing WHERE you’re going with it, will set your mind and body in mo(tiva)tion to success and will see you through tough times.
2.  Organization: These are the “protocols” that seem too irrelevant at first but boy do they come in handy, more than you know. Get a planner to record your schedule and all your assignments. Set reminders on your phone for all important events. Buy all the relevant books and supplements. If you are in med school, invest in flash cards on which you can write factoids to aid in memorizing. If you’re in law school, invest in supplements. These supplemental books will be your most esteemed school buddies/best friends. After every assignment for each class, you should cross reference the matching chapter in a supplement for a clearer understanding of the subject.

3. Your professors: It can be helpful to get to know your professors. Visit their office hours once or twice and if there is a class or subject your anticipate struggling with then swallow your pride with your saliva and go to office hours often. Professors often explain concepts better to you in person and you may find that it is clearer the second (or third) time around. Also, you can ask them questions, you may have been too ashamed to ask in class. Not only does knowing your professor’s style help but professors will often give you little tid-bits (what they expect/want from you in their exams). And although professors will deny that this happens, they are only human and putting a name to a face may even help when they are grading your papers. Besides, this connection will be an incredible help if/when you need their recommendation/reference letters in the future.

4. Go to class: Apparently this isn't common sense for students these days. But I get it: If anyone knows the boredom of class, it IS me. I always want to touch my phone, look at Facebook/Twitter or count down the time: anything but listen. It killed me my first semester in law school. I thought I could listen and do everything else. This bit me in the behind really bad when I ended up missing the announcement of a due date change for an assignment. The professor moved the date up and I didn’t know. So! I showed up with my assignment on the original due date- two days after the new due date. The points I lost for my tardiness demoted my grade in the class one letter. Lesson learned.

LISTEN in class. Minimize the Gchat window or CLOSE it out. LISTEN. You might hear something that you will never forget, even if your memory attempts to draw a blank on the day of the exam. Take good notes. Write down what the professor is saying. It doesn’t have to make sense now. After you settle down to study, it will make more sense. Also, when you write down things you hear, you have a better chance of it sticking to your memory, even if you never reread the notes. (You should reread your notes!)

If you’re in law school, speaking up “in class” makes a world of difference! Forget the “I’m not a conversational person” excuse. The truth is, speaking up in class is what works in law school! As a lawyer, you will need to speak up at all times. You might as well begin practice early.

If you’re in medical school some of this advice might not apply to you. Many medical schools have audiovisual recordings of their 1st and 2nd year lectures and because so much of the learning involves digesting text-books on your own time some students will forego lectures choosing instead to read in their rooms and watch lectures. I have to caution that this is a dangerous game. “To thine ownself be true”. If you will not watch the lecture on your own time, or you will spend the time in your room distracted on HULU or twitter then you should head over to the lecture hall because you will learn more from sitting in the lecture half paying attention than sitting in your room fully distracted. If you however do work quite well by watching lectures on your own time then make sure that you watch ALL the lectures. You will often find that professors will re-package their class slides into questions come tests at the end of each block. 

5. Time Management- KILL THE PROCRASTINATION. Seriously. Procrastination will be your death sentence, especially if you’re a graduate student. From two or three weeks into each semester, based on your schedule, you should make a study plan for at least 5 out of 7 days of the week. Stay on top of your assignments. Make a schedule that you will stick to. Write down what days you will study for each class and stick to it! With effective time management, you can avoid constantly feeling overwhelmed with material. The proverbial "drinking water from a fire-hose" phenomenon will not apply to you if you plan appropriately.

6. Good study hygiene: Unless you have a photographic memory (God Bless you if you do...but you probably do not), the secret here is REVIEW! REVIEW! REVIEW! Study periodically to refresh your memory! Don’t wait till the last minute to learn a semester’s worth of material. This can ONLY hurt you on exam day!

My brother-in-law is a strong believer in the power of repetition for learning in medical school. For example, prior to a block (let’s say Physiology) he would do his best to try and get through the assigned readings ahead of time. He finds that this at least helps him familiarize himself with the general gist of the topic and when profs would teach the subject for the first time, he could give better than an educated guess when a question came up. He would then re-read the same material as it was being taught along with supplemental material and this would give him a deeper understanding. Then he would review 1-2 times before test day. Now depending on how voluminous the block, this aggressive type of reviewing (i.e. 4 exposures to the same material) may not be possible but at a MINIMUM you should have reviewed a subject two times before being tested on it.

Unless you're sure you learn better by yourself, get in a study group consisting of people who ACTUALLY study. There, you can bounce ideas off each other, do practice exams together and quiz each other afterwards. Trust me, your study group member probably knows something you don’t know and you probably know something he/she doesn’t know. Basically, being able to talk about the class material with your colleagues is a great strategy to embed the material into your brain. Realistically, many of us remember more clearly conversations we had with our colleagues, than lectures we heard in class.

Be wary however of the inefficient study group members. Find serious-minded individuals like yourself. A study group should do exactly that….study. [This is not to say that you should be the study group Grinch that shushes everyone per second per second]

One of the most important study secrets is “past exams”. To prepare for exams, research and do past exams from your professor. This will give you an idea of how your professor tests. Also, write out your answers like you will do in an actual exam and submit to your professors for review. Many professors are kind enough to sit and review these exams with you. Trust me, this is a learning experience. One time, I wrote out what I believed to be a flawless answer to a practice exam. I took it to my Professor for review. I don’t think I would’ve passed that class, had my “perfect” answer been on my exam sheet.

7. School/Life Balance: Take calculated breaks. Schedule a day off for resting, hanging out with friends, watching movies or doing whatever it is you love. My brother-in-law views study breaks as a nice reward for sticking to his study schedule. He does something that he likes during those study breaks (watch HULU, work-out etc). As he explains, the rewards reinforce his work:  “Work hard to Play hard”.

8. Network: The art of “knowing people” and as Igbo’s call “Imma mmadu” begins in school. To you, the boy sitting at the front of the class is just a nerd- you never know, he might be the person who you’ll need to sign off on that job twenty years after you graduate. The students who sit beside you in class are more than your classmates- they may very well be future big shots. Be nice to everyone because you never know. But be cautious- Only attach yourself to those who’ll bring you up and not push you down…. Those whose goals align with you. Remember, you need company that will positively influence your success.

Perhaps just as important as networking with your classmates is networking with Alums. What undergraduates often do not realize is the immense pride that alums take in their alma mater. A lot of alums see themselves in the current generation (you) and are itching to help and mentor you. To this day my brother-in-law raves about his undergraduate alumni mentors who have steered him in the right direction. If you are in graduate school the same applies and it is even more tangible because alumni of your graduate school will likely help place you in your job.

Get involved in on-campus activities that interest you. Although people play the game of doing things that will look good on their resume, do things you are passionate about. You will invariably excel at this and capture a leadership position. Also when asked to talk about it at an interview your passion will shine through.

Through undergraduate, law school and my Master’s program, I realized success post high school is less about being smart and more about strategy, application and dedication. Post high school studies is about YOU paying attention and applying yourself.

What is success without challenge? What is endurance without pain? What is feat without defeat?


Stay Inspired…
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