Abandoned by her father, daughter of mother with disability graduates

Mariam Etti with LASU gate

In the heart of Lagos, a young woman’s journey stands as a beacon of resilience and determination. Mariam Etti, a fresh graduate from the Political Science Education department at the Lagos State University (LASU), embodies the spirit of perseverance.

Her story is not just one of academic success but a testament to the unwavering support and sacrifices of her family, particularly her physically challenged mother and her grandmother.

“My mother is an entrepreneur and she’s also physically challenged,” Mariam tells EduCeleb.com, her voice tinged with both pride and gratitude.

Her mother, despite being wheelchair-bound with paralysed legs – a result of poliomyelitis, tirelessly sold homemade chemical products like Izal and multipurpose liquid soap to finance Mariam’s education.

“She still struggles so hard to make ends meet by going to the health centre nearby to sell her products to people so she can get money to finance my education,” Mariam recounts.

Growing up, Mariam’s education was a family affair. Her grandmother, a petty trader, played a crucial role in her early years, taking her to school and providing financial support when it was most needed.

“My grandmother sacrificed her time by taking me to a daycare centre, to my primary school till when I am of age to come home from school alone,” she recalls fondly.

Mariam Etti with her grandmother (R) and mother (L)

Surmounting challenges

Mariam’s academic journey was fraught with challenges. Financial constraints meant she had to balance her studies with supporting her mother’s business.

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“I ventured into her line of business, selling toilet cleaners to my lecturers and school staff,” Mariam explains. This entrepreneurial spirit not only helped her overcome financial hurdles but also instilled in her a strong work ethic.

Her resolve was earlier tested during her secondary school years. When a mass failure in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) threatened to derail her dreams, her mother took out a loan to ensure she could re-sit the exams. “That was a very huge sacrifice I can never forget,” says Mariam.

Despite these challenges, Mariam excelled. She secured admission to LASU on her first attempt, surpassing the cutoff mark set by the university.

As a LASU student, living off-campus added another layer of challenge to Mariam’s academic journey.

Without the financial means to secure a hostel, she commuted daily from Ayobo, waking up as early as 6 am to make it to her 8 am classes at the LASU main campus in Ojo.

“To get a hostel over there is on the high side. So, my mom is like there’s no money for a hostel,” Mariam explains.

Despite these difficulties, she remained dedicated, often burning the midnight oil and seeking help from classmates to ensure she stayed on top of her studies.

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Absent father

Throughout her academic journey, Mariam faced the unfortunate absence of her father, who, despite being financially capable, did not contribute to her education.

“My father is not late. My father is still alive and throughout my four years [on campus], he didn’t contribute to my academic journey,” Mariam reveals.

This lack of support placed additional pressure on her mother, who took on the full responsibility of financing her education despite her physical challenges.

Even though her father did not support her during her studies, he was present on her convocation day, showing pride in her achievement.

“He was so happy, elated that wow his daughter is now a graduate,” Mariam notes.

This bittersweet moment underscores the contrast between his emotional pride and his previous absence.

Despite this, Mariam’s determination never wavered, driven by the sacrifices of her mother and grandmother who stood by her side throughout her educational journey.

Mariam Etti with her mother on the convocation day

Future aspirations

Mariam’s aspirations extend beyond her personal achievements. She dreams of becoming a politician or an educator, aiming to impart knowledge and inspire others.

“I want to let people know that this is what education can do,” she says passionately.

She also plans to scale up her mother’s business, turning it into a nationwide enterprise.

Her story is punctuated with moments of self-motivation and resilience.

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“I motivated myself that I signed up for this and I’m going to end it up because I am destined for greatness,” she asserts.

Her journey is a poignant reminder of the power of determination and the profound impact of family support.

As Mariam looks to the future, she is committed to giving back to her family and community.

“I will set her up. She won’t be struggling herself over selling this or over selling that,” she promises, speaking of her plans to support her mother financially.

During the upcoming National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service year, Mariam plans to motivate greatness in the younger generation drawing inspiration from her profound challenging journey.

“I will, as an educator or an educationist, I want to take my PPA as a school so I can be educating the young ones, groom them, let them know from the start that there is a better future ahead of them,” she adds.

Mariam Etti’s story is a compelling narrative of triumph over adversity, a celebration of the human spirit, and an inspiration to many. Her journey from a challenging childhood to a university graduate is a shining example of what can be achieved with determination, resilience, and the unwavering support of loved ones.

Watch the full interview with Mariam below.

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