Faith Odunsi is a 15-year-old Nigerian student who placed the nation yet again on the international radar by defeating contestants from around the world. She is currently an SS 3 student of The Ambassadors College and emerged as the overall best in the recently concluded “Global Open Mathematics Tournament” beating her last-standing opponent, Nicholas Lee from Indonesia with a wide margin of 30 points.
The competition had participants from the UK, the US, Asia, Australia, and Africa. In an exclusive interview with our correspondent, Faith Odunsi took us through what it was like before and after the competition.
What is your full name?
My name is Faith Oluwatamilore Odunsi.
What position are you in the family?
I am the first child of my parents.
What is your philosophy on Mathematics?
Mathematics, I believe is the fundamental backbone of the universe. It is a necessary part of human life and one needs to have a level of understanding to be successful.
Do you practice Mathematics every day? How often?
I practice as often as I possibly can but not every day since I have other subjects to deal with.
You recently competed with students from around the world in the “Global Open Tournament” and emerged as the overall winner with a whopping 30 points between you and the first runner up, at what point did you know you were going to win?
This was towards the end of the final round of the competition when my opponent, Nicholas Lee from Indonesia had just 10 points and I had more points than he could possibly cover up.
Apart from “GOT” and your outstanding performance at the 2019 Cowbellpedia Mathematics Competition, What other competitions have you participated in?
I have participated in various other competitions like the Pan African Mathematics Olympiad(PAMO), South African Mathematics Olympiad(SAMO), Kangaroo Sans Frontiers(KSF), Da Google, MAN Mathematics Olympiad, American Mathematics Competition(AMC), and some others.
I am sure you won medals in these competitions?
In most of them, yes.
Your school has a reputation for doing very well at Mathematics competitions, do they participate in competitions on other subjects too?
Yes. We do participate in all the available Olympiad competitions such as Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Informatics, and more recently, Economics. We take part in other science competitions like the Interswitch Spak, Pz Chemistry competition, Nigeria Computer Society, MOS, etc., and have been doing quite well and making waves. We also do not leave our English and Art gurus behind. We participate in Language competitions, Spelling Bees, Debates, and the likes.
What can you say about these competitions?
Well, my school has an impeccable reputation of doing very well at all competitions, the above competitions included. They improve healthy intra-school competitions and ultimately drive us to push ourselves to our limits.
How has the school helped you in achieving your victory?
The school has been incredibly helpful and supportive. The zeal and commitment of my teachers are second to none. The school always tries its possible best to make situations and learning environments as conducive as possible for me.
How has your parents helped you in achieving your victory?
They have been very supportive with love, prayers and advice. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed, but they have always been there for me. Their impact has been phenomenal.
Can you talk briefly about your parents?
My father is an Orthopedic surgeon. He owns the Faith Specialist hospital in Ota. He is also a parish pastor in RCCG. My mum is a business woman. They are very caring, loving and supportive parents.
What is your dream career?
I would love to study Computer Engineering and do something along the field of AI.
How did your friends react when they heard that you were the overall winner of the competition?
They were jubilant! I almost couldn’t get any breathing space because they were just everywhere. Surprisingly, some of them were not so surprised because they believed in me and were so pleased to see that I hadn’t disappointed them.
Is it true that they call you “The Queen of Mathematics” in your school?
Well, yes, but mostly when my friends decide to tease me and all. Besides that, I am referred to as the Queen of Mathematics.
Was that before or after you had won the “GOT” competition?
It was long before I won “GOT“. The tittle was conferred on me by the National Mathematical Centre(NMC) when I was in grade 9 and later on in SS 1 and SS 2. I got it after I achieved the best Olympiad result as a female student.
How does that make you feel in class?
You have made the country really proud. What is your advice for students still having challenges with Mathematics?
Keep trying your best and keep studying. Learn not to cram but understand the basic concepts. Practice, and you’d be good to go.