Despite learning disorder, Nigerian student, Hauwa Usman, makes First Class in UK university

Hauwa Umar Usman

By Gimba Kakanda

A Nigerian student has made history, setting record as one of a few ever First Class graduates from Aeronautical Engineering department of the University of Brighton, UK, reports Global Sentinel NG.

Hauwa Umar Usman, who was born and first educated in Kano, revealed she was diagnosed with dyslexia during the course of her study in the UK.

“During my studies in England, I experienced some challenges, which a British friend noticed were signs of dyslexia and suggested that I take a dyslexia test,” she said.

Dyslexia is a disorder characterised by having problems forming words correctly, having difficulty remembering or naming letters, numbers and colours, and in the early stage of a child it also involves difficulty in learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games.

People with dyslexia are generally identified by their difficulty in spelling, pronouncing, memorising, and summarising stories. The symptoms also include difficulty in solving mathematical equations and learning foreign language.

“I had never heard of dyslexia ever in my life. I contacted the dyslexia team at the university and they were very helpful in explaining the disability and I was told that even the smartest scientist like Albert Einstein had this disability,” she said.

The Kano-born also shared she experienced “ups and downs” during her studies and almost gave up but for the encouragement of her father. “I always remembered my father’s words ‘it’s a challenge studying Aeronautical and yet you have come this far and I am so proud of you’”.

She also recognised her mother’s role in overcoming the difficult period, saying, “my mother had taught me to never lose hope in anything I do and that my hard work won’t go in vain and Allah’s mercy will always be with me.”

Ms Usman is the third daughter of a retired Nigerian Army General, who was Army Chief of Transport and Logistics.

The excited father, Major-General Umar Tudunwada Usman, told Global Sentinel that “Hauwa has made us proud and she truly deserves to be celebrated”.

Before departing for the UK, Ms Usman attended Crescent International School, Kano, for her primary and junior secondary education. Her education in Kano was interrupted by her family’s relocation to Abuja where she attended Lead British International School.

She left for the UK in 2012, settling for EF Language school in Cambridge, where she studied Engineering for her one-year university foundation preparation. She was admitted into the University of Brighton in 2013.

The honoured students attributed her inspiration to study Aeronautical Engineering to her “curiosity for aircrafts at a young age. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into due to how challenging and demanding the male dominated course could be.”

On the challenge of dealing with dyslexia, she said, “despite the odds, I was determined that I would not let myself down and most especially my father. Because, I knew he had sacrificed so much to make sure I have the best education.”

She also shared that her adapting to her field of study and excelling in it was “through hard work, stepping out of my comfort zone, understanding strategic ways to manage my learning difficulties, having a positive mind set.  Most importantly, the encouragement from my family and friends during my most challenging times, allowed me to be amongst the very few with a First Class degree in Aeronautical Engineering”.

She advised parents on best way to raise children. “No child should be hit or beaten because they do not understand a task. The need to diagnose dyslexia in individuals especially at a younger age by both parents and teaching staff in Nigeria must be emphasized more.”

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