At around 3 pm on December 3, at their home in Nyagatare District, 19-year-old Martha Izere Samaza’s father Emilien Bisamaza received a phone call from the National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA). He was informed that his daughter was among the top 17 performers countrywide in the 2022/2023 A-Level national exams. PHOTOS: Boys outshine girls in A-level national exams After the phone call, filled with joy, he paused the conversation he was having with a colleague prior to the call to deliver the great news to the rest of the family. He broke the news to his daughter, a former student at College du Christ- Roi Nyanza who was the top performer in General Education (Languages), with an aggregate of 60. “I was extremely excited that I almost fainted. A lot of questions lingered in my mind. What? How? As I wondered, I just couldn’t wait to see the results for myself, I kept wondering if it was a dream,” Samaza said. The entire family was astonished, and her father was eager to witness her being honoured for her success. They readied themselves for the nearly three-hour journey from Nyagatare District to Kigali. Dressed in a white t-shirt, grey pants, and white shoes, the soft-spoken teenager, who held her obtained laptop tightly, said she didn’t expect to outshine as the exams were hard and she imagined that other students could have worked hard as well. “Although I was afraid, I was confident that I had excessively researched in the library, and engaged teachers for clarity and details where necessary.” Samaza has always been among the best performers in all her academic levels. Being in boarding school enabled her to concentrate on books fully, and was able to discuss with her colleagues, though one challenge she encountered was that there was little time for personal revision. “I had an obligation to assist students in discussions, a thing that occupied me almost all the time that I had little time to read on my own,” Samaza said. The third born of five children anticipates pursuing law or journalism to be a voice for the voiceless and incite positive change in society. Her role models are William Shakespeare who was an English playwright and poet and Chinua Achebe, who was a Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic. Though they are long gone, Samaza said that the authors’ work still induces impact, knowledge, and inspiration. Her message to all students is to concentrate on their books, consult their teachers, and work together as a team, stressing that there is a lot to learn from each other. Samaza’s father expressed his gratitude for his daughter’s win and stressed that although she is clever, he was surprised by the overall triumph in her combination. “My daughter has made me proud, her success is an indication that our efforts didn’t go to waste. We shall push her and her siblings until they graduate because the future is bright for those who have acquired education,” Bisamaza said. He added that he will reward Samaza as well, as she has shown a good example to her siblings and colleagues.