Fifteen-year-old Usongobong Paul from Federal Government Girls College Ikot- Obio Itong, Akwa-Ibom State, has emerged overall winner of this year’s UBA Foundation National Essay Competition.
Paul beat 11 other finalists to clinch the best prize at the competition, which had over 5,000 entries from Senior Secondary Schools students across the country.
She was rewarded with a scholarship worth N5m to study in any African university of her choice and a laptop at the event held at the Tony Elumelu Amphitheatre in UBA House.
UBA Foundation is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of United Bank for Africa Plc, committed to the socio-economic betterment of the communities where it operates, focusing on development in areas of education, environment, economic empowerment and special projects.
The Foundation’s education initiative has been changing lives for over a decade as the scholarship programme, which is currently in its 12th year, continues to impact lives.
The competition has been taken to other African countries, including Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Guinea, with more African countries coming on board this year.
An elated Paul who was escorted to the event by her information and communications technology teacher, Akanyere Chigozie, said the experience has boosted her confidence.
“I am so grateful to UBA Foundation for this great opportunity. It has helped me to believe in myself and bolstered my confidence. This scholarship will help in achieving my dream of becoming an ophthalmologist. This opportunity has changed my life and I really appreciate UBA and the Foundation for this,” she said
Paul will be supported throughout her educational career and beyond with constant mentoring by the UBA Foundation.
Princess Sholabomi of Value Spring College, Lagos, clinched the second prize and was rewarded with N3m educational grant and a laptop; while the third prize went to Sharon Nwajiaku of Ota Total Academy, Ogun State. She got N2.5m and a laptop.
The other nine finalists also received brand-new laptops as well as consolation prizes, including books and other learning materials.
UBA Group Managing Director, Oliver Alawuba, said the bank is committed to youth empowerment and development, who are the future of the continent.
He said; “As a bank, we are interested in empowering youths and to do this, we must educate them through efforts such as these. The truth is that we are launching these programmes in all the 20 countries where UBA has presence. Chairman of UBA Foundation, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, said the bank has been touching lives and making a solid impact through its Foundation and has produced hundreds of winners, some of who have long graduated from higher schools and have been impacting their communities.
He said: “I commend everyone for being a part of this event. We set up this competition over 12 years ago, because we saw the need to allow students to express themselves and convey their ideas, and over the years, we have seen that we are doing something very unique and truly African. We have given scholarships to over 60 students, and we have been able to produce doctors, engineers and lawyers through this platform.”
Managing Director, UBA Foundation, Bola Atta, commended the winners for their exceptional brilliance.
She noted that education remains the Foundation’s focus as it is the bedrock of any nation.