By Oluwakemi Abimbola
A medical doctor, Justin Chukwudi Olewuezi has become the first Nigerian to graduate from the Siberian State Medical University, Tomsk in Russia.
In an exclusive interview with PUNCH Online, Olewuezi revealed that not many Nigerians and Africans for that matter come to that part of Russia, preferring the western part of the country.
Dr Olewuezi’s journey to Russia started in Nigeria at the Air Force Comprehensive School in Enugu.
After writing the United Tertiary Matriculation Examination conducted by the Joint Admission Matriculation Board twice and scoring 247 and 260 respectively, without gaining admission into a Nigerian university, he decided to set his sights abroad.
He said with the help of his mother, he was able to achieve his dreams.
Olewuezi said, “I had always wanted to study abroad and obviously make something of myself back in Air Force comprehensive school, Enugu. So after failing to gain admission twice even with JAMB scores 247 and 260 respectively, I decided to study abroad. So after talking with a Russian-trained medical doctor, (Dr Okere, then a medical student), I decided to go for it.
“My journey in Russia actually started at a polytechnic university, Tomsk polytechnic university, where I studied Russian language and some science subjects also in the Russian language. Then I moved to Siberian state medical university, Tomsk (@ssmutomsk).”
Arriving in Tomsk
Dr Olewuezi says he has his sister to thank for her wise thinking and decision to buy him a winter jacket as he got into the country at the beginning of Winter, which can be quite extreme in the country.
Being first Nigerian at Tomsk varsity
He said, “Yes, I am. As a matter of fact, a lot of Africans didn’t come through this city 6-10 years ago and most African/Nigerian students preferred to study in the west part of Russia.
“My university was founded in 1888, so it 133 years old.”
Not only is Dr Olewuezi, the first Nigerian at the Siberia State Medical University in Tomsk, but he also graduated with the highest grades the university has to offer.
“I graduated with a 5.0 c.g.p.a in 5.0 grading system,” he said.
Medicine chose him
In one of his Instagram posts, Dr Olewuezi had revealed that medicine was not his original career path but that the profession chose him.
When asked about that post, he said, “I was in a Technical/science class back in Air force comprehensive school, but I later understood that engineering wasn’t for me (I wasn’t really into mathematics and further maths), so when it came time to fill in my JAMB form, I decided to go for Human anatomy.
“I sought my mother’s advice, and she said why not go for medicine, that I shouldn’t be scared of anything. I was scared of the competition though. And ever since then I’ve been thinking about becoming an oncologist. So in a way medicine choose me.”
Of Jollof rice and Russian grandparents
Pointing out that Tomsk city is a city for students, the new medical doctor claims, the city is “a really friendly city to both local and international students.
“My experience has been quite a memorable one. I’ve made some good friends, especially with the locals and I think that the nicest people on earth are Russian grandparents.
“I’ve also had both nice and not-so-nice experiences during my clinical practice. The food here is quite different from ours, but there are ingredients to prepare “Naija jollof”.
Crediting his mother, who is now a pensioner for his success, Dr Olewuezi, who is the last of three children said that his mother understood the importance of education and was willing to go the extra mile to get her kids educated.
He said, “My elder brother’s an urban and regional planner with a PhD and my sister is a civil engineer with Masters in education. My family isn’t rich, so you can understand how much my mother had to work to put me through medical school. My mother is the story of my success. She is now a pensioner.”(sic)