A 27-year-old Nigerian, Dr. Bahijja Raimi-Abraham, made history recently by becoming the first graduate to be awarded a PhD in Pharmacy from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom.
She had earlier obtained her first degree in Pharmacy from the same University.
In an interview she granted to Punch, Bahijja recounted her journey to obtaining the prestigous degree.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria in April 1985, Bahijja left Nigeria at the age of six when her family returned to the UK.
She completed her primary school education in London, and attended secondary school in North Wales, Penrhos College. Following her GCSEs, she returned to London for sixth form when she studied and passed the Advanced Level examinations (A – levels) in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Drama.
She was among the first cohort of Pharmacy undergraduates to be admitted to the university in 2003 when the 49 year-old University opened its School of Pharmacy. Approximately 90 people were accepted for Pharmacy, and approximately 50 graduated with the award of MPharm (Masters Degree in Pharmacy) in 2007. She is however, the first graduate of The School of Pharmacy at UEA to be awarded a PhD.
“I consider this an achievement for myself no doubt, as well as for my family, the School of Pharmacy at UEA, as well as an achievement for Nigeria – the land of my birth,” she said.
In her PhD group, she was the only black student in a group of seven white people of mixed nationality.
For her, studying Pharmacy and then pursuing a PhD has not been easy, both with their own challenges and different learning outcomes. “I have always tried to study areas that I have had a natural interest in. For example, during my A-Level studies I thoroughly enjoyed Chemistry and on advice from my mother, I decided to study Pharmacy at university level.”
Bahijja plans to pursue a career in academia and to explore and avail herself of all the opportunities that are put before her. “Included in this plan is my wish to make a contribution towards the development of pharmaceutical research and practice in Nigeria,” she said.