27-year-old Chigoziem Emereuwa was the only survivor of a car crash that claimed the lives of her parents and siblings and on the 17th of August 2001.

They were travelling for an Aunt’s wedding when a truck hit their vehicle. No oneade it to the hospital except her and now, she is ready to graduate with a PhD in Pure Mathematics from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

In an interview with Flourish Africa, she recounted how the tragic incident occurred and the choice to study pure mathematics.

On why she chose to study mathematics, Chigoziem said:

I am not one of those who realised their passion for numbers at a young age. I always wanted to be a chemistry lecturer just like my mum so I planned to study Chemistry in University. I was only 15 when I finished high school and began my university education so when it became time to choose a discipline, my family narrowed it down to Banking and Finance, Mathematics and Geography. I did well in Mathematics but I thought that was normal for every student and Geography was because the environment always fascinated me and I had sworn to travel so I could see more. I chose Mathematics eventually because it was one of the few subjects that didn’t bore me and I thought it would give me a wider career option in the future. I credit my family for helping me understand my strengths and weaknesses.

About the accident, she recalled:

I only remember being in the back seat, playing a travel game with my sister and then waking up in hospital.

I don’t recall any form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as my paternal family made sure I wasn’t alone, I didn’t even get a chance to mourn properly. It seemed like the loss hit my aunts more than it did me so I had to be strong. However, my grades did go down and my mom was no longer there to push me. I felt no urge to work hard since I had learnt that you could lose everything in a second so, why bother?

As she gets older, Chigo has found support in good friends, cousins that have become siblings and a constant reassurance that no matter what happens, everything works out in the end.

Every time I wake up, I remind myself that I am my parent’s legacy so I try to stay focused on my end game which is to be better than I was yesterday.