The Oviosuns made history by bagging their doctorate degrees in Anatomy on the same day from the College of Medicine at the University of Nigeria. The couple speaks with Edugist on their journey towards achieving the success. Excerpts:
Please share with Edugist, a little about yourself and your wife.
My name is Oviosun Augustine, I lecture at Edo State University, Uzairue, Edo state. My wife is Oviosun Chidinma Ezinne. Both of us recently completed our docotor of philosopy (PhD) in the department of Anatomy, University of Nigeria, Enugu campus.
What motivated you both to pursue your PhDs in Anatomy at the University of Nigeria?
Our first motivation was borne out of our love for quality education. Secondly, by the sincere desire to distinguish ourselves in our chosen field, and after obtaining beautiful and good degrees at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, we realised there was a need to cement it with the highest academic qualification. As hard as the journey was, we were able to actualise our dreams by God’s multiplied grace.
What are the areas of research of both yours and your wife’s PhD theses?
My research area was on neuroscience and neuroanatomy, with particular emphasis on neurodegenerative disorders, neurotoxins and cognitive science. However, my wife’s research area focused on reproductive anatomy with particular niche on male infertility.
Could you share some of the major challenges you faced while pursuing your academic dreams?
As expected, there were enormous challenges, some of which included finances and distance. Our research was very elaborate, capital-intensive running into millions, and self-funded since we didn’t get research funding.
Getting married in the midst of the programme was also challenging considering the fact that we got married during the course of our PhD and we were also blessed with an amazing baby boy to the glory of God. My wife was nursing our new born baby and also going through the stress in the research laboratory for two months.
Another challenge was the long distance we needed to travel coming from the south-south to the east, most times we spent hours on the bad Auchi-Onitsha–Enugu roads. I recall an instance when I got back to Benin at 1:00am in the morning from Enugu after a presentation class.
In the five years of your PhD pursuit, you both got married and had a son. How did you balance your academic pursuits with the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood?
Understanding, total faith and belief in God give us the ability to combine the activity of being a newly married couple, a young parent and pursuing two very tasking careers. We could not have successfully combined all and completed the journey without motivation and absolute faith in God, we prayed our way through.
What strategies or support systems did you rely on to overcome the obstacles you encountered during your academic journey?
I am an apostle of never giving up no matter the challenge, I have used my usual slogan and hashtag #Teamnevergiveup to motivate ourselves that notwithstanding the challenge we will push and complete it. And this strategy worked perfectly. And another ultimate strategy is prayer, we talked to God often and on every hurdle, he guided us.
Were there any specific moments or experiences that tested you or your wife’s determination to continue pursuing your PhDs? How did you stay motivated?
Yes, many moments. There were moments that my willpower and financial capability were tested and I needed to ask myself how this could be possible. Can we survive this? Should one person not drop and wait for the other to finish?
There were many of those moments, where we sacrificed personal pleasure for the dream only we saw, I reduced and virtually stopped hanging out, attending parties, or spending money on leisure or luxury, because all the little we had was targeted towards a goal. Those moments tested my sanity, I am still recovering.
Can you describe the process of defending both your PhD theses? What were some key takeaways from that experience?
It is hard to actually describe, trying to use the right words or sentences. One of the key takeaways is that with prayers, planning, determination, discipline and dedication, every dream is achievable.
In what ways did your academic pursuits complement and support each other as a couple?
It helped us to solidify our friendship, build trust, grow as partners in progress, remain focused in the same direction, same career trajectory and with the belief that we will become professors of Anatomy in no distant time by the special grace of God.
Were there any unique or memorable aspects of studying and researching together as a married couple in the same department?
Yes, lots of memorable moments. Most nights we stayed awake, on our different laptops, studying, researching, writing, trying to meet deadlines. One memorable moment was at the faculty presentation one time, after I had finished my own presentation, my wife was next to come on for her own presentation. Immediately she projected her slide, there was this ovation she got when many noticed that we were husband and wife in the same department and by the time she was done with the presentation, it was already a walkover. Those moments were memorable and super lovely.
How did you handle any potential conflicts or differences of opinion that arose during your joint academic journey?
Patience, understanding, compromise and focus.
What advice would you give to other couples or individuals who aspire to achieve their academic goals while managing personal and family commitments?
My advice to them is to remain committed to the goal no matter what challenges that may crop up. Work as a team, encourage, motivate and pray with and for each other.
How do you think your accomplishment will impact the field of Anatomy and inspire future researchers or students?
It will impact the field of anatomy in a positive light because my wife and I, will continue to do research and make impact in the world of anatomy for development of anatomy and service to humanity.
How do you plan to utilise your PhDs in your future careers or academic pursuits?
There is no end to learning, so we hope to expand our research and continue to do more research in our various areas of interest, also to be at the forefront of knowledge expansion helping to train the younger generation of medical and paramedical students in Anatomy. We are open to post-doctoral research experience as well.
What message or lesson do you hope people take away from your remarkable achievement as a couple?
Every dream is valid and achievable with God. Never, never give up.