Ogochukwu was feeling exasperated. Working with her project supervisor, whom she had considered herself lucky to be assigned to, had turned into a nightmare.

The problem started right after the project supervision list came out. Her supervisor, affectionately called Mummy Jess by students in the department, created a WhatsApp group to which she added her eight supervisees.

Ogoo (as most people called Ogochukwu) had never been a group person. She liked to work alone and tackle her problems by herself. So, although she heard of the group, she did not accept the invitation to join until Mummy Jess insisted.

By then, the group had held several discussions and Mummy Jess (official name – Dr. Jessica Williams) had given a bunch of instructions to the students to help them choose feasible and novel topics. She had also shared some links to helpful material on the modalities for academic writing and how to avoid plagiarism.

In order to carry Ogoo along, Mummy Jess asked the girl she had appointed as leader/liaison for the group, Sopulu, to bring her up to speed by sharing the most important of her earlier chats with the group again for Ogoo’s benefit.

Sopulu and the rest of Mummy Jess’ supervisees resented Ogoo’s tardiness in joining the group, which could delay their progress.

But Ogoo had a different view of the situation. She wanted one-on-one attention with her supervisor for her project and she set out to get it regardless of the group’s activities.

It wasn’t that Mummy Jess didn’t offer one-on-one consultations, but due to work pressure, she limited them to issues peculiar to each student but used the group to give guidance and answer questions of a more general nature with respect to conducting research projects. This saved her the trouble of saying the same things over and over to each student.

But Ogoo kept chatting her privately and coming to her office to, as she put it, “get better acquainted with you” and “drink from your large fountain of wisdom.”

At first, Mummy Jess was gracious but her attitude towards Ogoo seemed to harden after a while. She stopped responding to her private chats and sent her back to read the group chats when she came to the office with questions.

That was not what Ogoo had expected. She thought her approach would bring her closer to Mummy Jess and put her ahead of her colleagues. Instead, she still had no topic by the time her mates were well into writing the first three chapters of their project report.

One day, she broke down in tears in Mummy Jess’ office and begged the supervisor to assign her a topic. As the supervisor interviewed her to guide her in choosing an appropriate topic, she realised that Ogoo had not read the material she sent to the group on what constitutes a researchable topic and possible areas of research interest.

“Ogochukwu Egbunike, get out of my office right now!” Mummy Jess stormed. “You think I am playing with you.”

After the group leader, Sopulu, helped her to coin some topics and get approval, Ogoo continued to encounter problems with her supervisor. The lady was too strict for Ogoo’s liking. She kept referring her to papers and documents she had sent to the group. Ogoo had glanced at some of them but she believed it was the job of the supervisor to explain matters to her as they arose one-on-one, rather than expecting her to find the answers in some lengthy documents.

Besides, she insisted that Ogoo bring the old drafts every time she made new corrections on the work. On a few occasions, she sent her back because the corrections were not scrupulously made.

And so it transpired that while the other group members were tidying up their project reports, Ogoo was struggling to get her questionnaire ready as she was to do a survey.

In her desperation, she started sending multiple questions to her supervisor to clarify some confusing issues on the questionnaire. To her shock, the woman blocked her on WhatsApp.

Now, Ogoo feels so frustrated. She hates school, she hates this requirement to do projects before graduation, she hates “nitpicking” lecturers like Mummy Jess.

In fact, she wishes she’d never been assigned to Mummy Jess, whom she had thought working with would be a breeze because of her pleasant demeanour, because she’s convinced the woman’s refusal to work with her more one-on-one had put her in the current mess.

-The end-

Ⓒ Edith Ugochi Ohaja

I hope you enjoyed the story. Kindly advise and encourage Ogochukwu and students in her shoes.

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  • Tochukwu Okeke

    Ogo should better read the clock fast enough and know that Mummy Jess like most other supervisors have certain ways they like to be followed and it is the duty of Ogo and other supervisees to go along with the supervisor’s method.

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