First Nigerian Female Graduate and Medical Doctor

Posted by Timige, On 1 Jan, 2021 | Updated On 7 Dec, 2021 No Comments »

Agnes Yewande Savage is the first Nigerian woman to graduate from university and also double as first Nigerian female doctor

Agnes Yewande Savage left one of the greatest legacies for Nigerian women by becoming the first Nigerian female graduate and medical doctor.

Agnes Yewande Smith Bowie Savage was born by a Nigerian father Richard Akinwande Savage and a Scottish mother Maggie S Bowie in 15 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh at 5:15 am on 21st February 1906 (Birth certificate available at Scottish National Archives).

She “was clearly exceptional from childhood. A studious, serious-minded child, she excelled at school and is on record as having passed the exams of the Royal Academy of Music in 1919 at the tender age of thirteen.”

As the child “of a distinguished father who was not just a renowned doctor but also a newspaper publisher and nationalist politician, she found that a lot was expected of her – and she delivered beyond all expectations.

In 1923 she was admitted into the University of Edinburgh, her father’s alma mater, to study medicine.”

An outstanding student at Edinburgh, Agnes Yewande obtained first class honours in all her subjects, winning awards in skin disease, forensic medicine (becoming the first woman to do so), and the prestigious Dorothy Gilfillan Memorial Prize for the best woman graduate in 1929

Thousands have followed in her footsteps, but her outstanding academic achievements, her pedigree, and the quality of her work stand out.

Whilst the details, and the fraught politics of Agnes’ life are still shrouded by institutional silences, she clearly set a sterling example for several generations of Nigerian women to follow in years to come. Her life shows that hard work and self-belief can allow one to break barriers.

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