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Okeke, Maritime Lawyer bags Erasmus University’s Student Excellence Award

Adaeze Montserrat Okeke, a Nigerian Maritime Lawyer has won the 2021 Student Excellence Award in a Masters of Science (MSc.) in Maritime Economics and Logistics (MEL) at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands. The MEL Programme is jointly administered by the Erasmus School of Economics and the Rotterdam School of Management.

The Student Excellence Award is presented by global tanker company Stolt Tankers B.V to the student who emerges with the highest grade point average in the course.

Reacting on the receipt of the award, she said; “I was not at all expecting it. In fact, I sat quietly in my seat when my name was called because I didn’t believe it was my name being called. I am from a legal background and the course was filled with many people from more science inclined backgrounds so I did not expect to emerge the best in this field.

“I am humbled to have received this award, I am grateful to God for his grace which made it possible, even during the deeply tough times.”

Describing the MEL Programme in her valedictory speech, Okeke who also emerged as the Student Representative Speaker for the 2021 set described the programme as “rigourous and brutal but rewarding and exciting’’, one that has equipped her with the “requisite knowledge” needed in her career, adding that her time at the school further fueled her “love for the maritime industry and global trade.”

She said trudging on through the session in the face of the pandemic and during the lockdown was most difficult but in retrospect, the students had as a result developed “tenacity”, which is a vital skill to succeeding in life.

“ Growing up, when I decided to become a lawyer, I felt that I had to fit in the stereotype that ‘lawyers don’t know maths.’ I felt I could work hard and give my best on my English, Literature, French and Government courses- I could get As in those. But for Maths and Biology, it was okay that I didn’t do as well. My father who started out wanting me to be a doctor but lovingly also supported my decision to choose law, always insisted I did as well in Maths or Biology as I did in Literature. He would always tell me “ you must show that you are a lawyer by choice, not deprivation.”  I am truly happy that I am living out that reality today”, she stated.

Okeke who also attributed her success to the unflinching support from her family and close circle, had graduated from the Nigerian Law School in 2016 with a Second Class Upper.  She had attended the International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI), Malta where she graduated with distinction in International Maritime Law (LL.M). In 2016, she became a Barrister and Solicitor of Supreme Courts of Nigeria, while in 2020, she became a Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales.

Earlier (in 2014), she made a Second Class Upper from the Durham University, United Kingdom where she obtained her LL.B. She had proceeded to the UK after completing her secondary education at Queen’s College Yaba, Lagos in 2009.

As a professional, she has worked as a Contract Logistics and Market Analyst with AP- Moller Maersk in Netherlands, an Associate Consultant in International Tax and Transaction Services (ITTS) at Ernst & Young (EY), Nigeria, and managed her family’s business. She is a legal counsel to various maritime bodies in Nigeria including Maritime TV Africa as well as the Nigeria Ship Finance Conference & Exhibition (NISFCOE). In 2021, she added to her volunteering efforts a role as Mentor at Ocean Ambassadors Foundation, Nigeria. She is the co-founder of 360 Degree Woman Empowerment Initiative, an initiative aimed at mentoring young girls in their academic, career and emotional lives.

She is currently pursuing new opportunities in at Netherlands.