It all began with a dream of becoming a professional footballer, a strong desire to be someone important — a dream every young child harbors without fully understanding the harsh realities of life. When Emmanuel was a teenager, he almost reached that dream, impressing scouts during his secondary school days. He even had two chances to compete in scouting competitions, but both times, his team lost. First in trials organized by South Africans, and then in Benin Republic.
Losing that dream was hurtful, but he had to move on. So he tried to get into the Nigerian Defence Academy. It took him three tries, but he passed the exam. Unfortunately, during the medical test, he was disqualified because of his crossed eyes. This moment shaped his story, which became filled with dreams, almost-wins, and a never-give-up attitude.
Despite his second major defeat at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Emmanuel went back to Lagos and applied to the university to study History and International Relations. In his second year, there was a university strike, so to earn money, he worked in a water factory and played football for fun. It was during this period that his elder brother, Inyang Ernest, suggested he try software engineering at Semicolon, being a graduate of the program himself.
Emmanuel was thrilled to join the program. He started with classes on Design Thinking, which opened his eyes to see the world in a new way and made him notice everyday issues. However, the core programming courses, especially the Java class, were tough for him. But with support from his brother and the friendly community at Semicolon, he kept studying and practicing until he got the hang of it.
Emmanuel’s journey changed a lot when he was in the Industrial Design class. In that class, he found out he was really good at creating and building things. It was like having a special power to turn ideas in his mind into real things through design. This discovery became his favorite memory from the program.
Today, when Emmanuel thinks about his tech journey, it’s clear he learned a lot and became creative in his thinking. Becoming a software engineer requires more than just wanting it. Emmanuel Utibe Ernest’s journey is unique; even before graduation, he began contributing to the tech world as a Semicolon staff member.
Thanks to the power of the Semicolon program, Emmanuel has learned to overcome the fear of defeat and self-doubt. Now, he’s equipped to adapt, reinvent, and bring positive change to the tech world, not just in Africa but globally.