Chioma Onwuchekwa is the recipient of Tennessee Technological University’s 2020-21 Northrup Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Winners are chosen based on how they uphold ethics, punctuality, preparedness, teamwork and dedication to teaching, among others. The PhD candidate of environmental science-chemistry is the first Nigerian, African and international student to ever win this award.
Yet, science did not always come easy to Onwuchekwa. In high school, it was a challenge. She spent the gap year after graduation in a tutorial centre. Here’s where talent met opportunity: here, she found “the best chemistry teacher who knew how to break down all the concepts.” “Honestly, he made chemistry fun and is pretty much the reason why I majored in Industrial Chemistry in college and graduated with first class honours,” she tells us.
A postgraduate degree at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland followed. Then, a teaching scholarship to Tennessee Technological University.