Husband and wife sit Leaving Cert together

As thousands of students across Cork prepare to sit their State Exams tomorrow, June 6, CHRIS DUNNE spoke to a husband and wife
Husband and wife sit Leaving Cert together
Samuel Opoku and Vivian Aimiuwu who are studying the adult leaving certificate programme at Cork College of Commerce. Picture: Denis Minihane.

HUSBAND and wife Samuel Opoku and Vivian Felix Aimiuwu are not only soul-mates; they are classmates too.

“We are together every day!” says Vivian. “We are everywhere together. We tell people that and they get it.”

Samuel, 24, and Vivian, 20, are both studying for their Leaving Certificate at the Cork College of Commerce.

“We study together and we revise together,” says Vivian.

Two heads are better than one.

“We help each other out with our lessons. If I’m not good at something, Sam will give me help and vice versa.”

The duo, who live on Blarney Street, stick together.

“We rely on each other,” says Vivian.

Samuel Opoku and Vivian Aimiuwu who are studying the adult leaving certificate programme at Cork College of Commerce, photographed with Miriam De Barra, head of department, leaving certificate courses, Cork College of Commerce. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Samuel Opoku and Vivian Aimiuwu who are studying the adult leaving certificate programme at Cork College of Commerce, photographed with Miriam De Barra, head of department, leaving certificate courses, Cork College of Commerce. Picture: Denis Minihane.

They took time out of their busy timetable to grab a quick cuppa and have a chat before hitting the books again, ahead of tomorrow’s Leaving Cert exams.

“When we are on a break at school, or we are eating our lunch, we are often asked, ‘Are you just good friends or are you siblings?’” says Vivian. “I say; we are married. Then they go ‘Wow!’ ”

So the couple who study together, stay together?

“Yes,” says Vivian, laughing. “Sam and I got married in Spain three years ago. We met at a local library when we were both younger students. While we did exams in our home countries and in Spain, they are not equivalent to the Irish Leaving Cert. We wanted to continue our education in an English-speaking country, so we chose Ireland and we are living here since last September.”

Samuel and Vivian have already come a long way from their home countries, Ghana and Nigeria, and more recently, from Spain.

“My father lives in Spain,” says Samuel. “When I wanted to give up my studies for the Leaving Cert at one point to find full-time work, dad said; ‘Don’t give up. Continue’. I’m very glad that I took his advice. I have no regrets.”

His wife encouraged him also.

“If I was going to study; then he was too!” says Vivian firmly.

Samuel didn’t always go the distance.

“He tended to opt out of school every now and again,” says Vivian.

“Samuel thought of giving up on his studies. Now we are both committed to doing the Leaving Cert. I want to go to CIT to study Business and Sam wants to do Accountancy there. He is very good at figures and calculating. Both of us want to go to college and come out as professionals in our field so that we can work here in Ireland.”

Samuel Opoku and Vivian Aimiuwu who are studying the adult leaving certificate programme at Cork College of Commerce. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Samuel Opoku and Vivian Aimiuwu who are studying the adult leaving certificate programme at Cork College of Commerce. Picture: Denis Minihane.

What is Vivian’s best subject?

“I am good at biology,” says Vivian. “And I love maths.”

Her other half agrees.

“Vivian is really good at maths. When we are doing our homework, she often helps me out with difficult mathematical problems. If I have a free period at school, I can get some of my homework done. But usually we do our homework at home in the evening together for about three hours.”

Do they take a break from swotting?

“I sometimes watch Youtube videos about cooking,” says Vivian.

“As a young girl, my mother worked nights when we were asleep in bed. I have two brothers and I learned to cook from the age of seven. I love to cook. It is my hobby. I can create lots of delicious dishes with rice.

“When we are off school, we work so we can save money. I’m looking for seasonal summer work at the moment,” says Vivian.

“Our free time is limited. Already we are looking ahead to saving the fees we need for college.”

The young couple are undertaking the Leaving Cert, arguably the most stressful exam that any of us will have to face, in one year, as opposed to the two year programme. Is this added pressure?

“We are already very well prepared,” says Samuel. “Our teachers are very supportive and they are very patient.

Samuel Opoku and Vivian Aimiuwu who are studying the adult leaving certificate programme at Cork College of Commerce. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Samuel Opoku and Vivian Aimiuwu who are studying the adult leaving certificate programme at Cork College of Commerce. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“Yes, doing the exam in one year adds more pressure, especially as the first Leaving Cert exam day comes closer.”

But Samuel takes things in his stride.

“I am very calm, so I don’t get stressed,” he says.

He is up with the lark every morning.

“I cycle to work at Dunnes Stores in Ballyvolane from 6am to 9am, before I got to school,” says Samuel.

“Both of us work during the school holidays to pay the rent for our flat in Blarney Street.

“I get up at 5am. My day is very organised,” adds Samuel.

“Vivian brings my breakfast to school with her, so we have our breakfast together at break-time. We eat our lunch together too with our other class-mates.”

Samuel tries his best to be in time for school.

“Often the traffic is heavy when I’m coming from work and I’m sometimes 15 minutes late for school.”

But Samuel has an advantage.

“I think he is teacher’s pet!” says Vivian. “I like things to be explained to me step-by-step. Sam goes with the flow.”

Samuel puts in his spoke.

“I do what I’m told,” he says, smiling.

Being together 24/7 must have its merits, but drawbacks too?

“It’s not all that easy,” Vivian admits. “Sometimes it is difficult to divide home-life and school-life. We are lucky that we understand each other and we enjoy helping each other out with our studies. It is funny, because we are in the same class and we have the same friends. We are always limited to one group of people, which has its advantages and its disadvantages. But it is nice to have the same circle of friends.”

Is it hard to spend time private time together until school’s out?

“If we want to have a private conversation when there are others around, we often speak Spanish to each other,” says Vivian.

Is their loving relationship ever tested?

“We fight about little things at home,” says Vivian. “At school we have to be nice!”

She has learned the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

“She is the best cook ever,” says Sam. “After our exams are over, I have to plan taking Vivian out for a nice dinner to celebrate.

“Before we break-up before the exam, the whole school will have a celebration when the pupils receive a certificate on completion of the course. Our families will be proud of us.”

The future looks bright for these two diligent pupils who have definite goals in mind.

“In the future, when we have a family of our own, I would like to work during the day so that I can be at home for the children when they come home from school,” says Vivian. “First, I want to make a good career.”

Apart from school work, domestic chores have to be fitted into the students’ tight schedule.

“We do the shopping together,” says Samuel. “And we like to relax and enjoy a nice meal. We plan to take a few days off nearer the exams.”

The end result is in sight after all the hard work.

“We are nearly there,” says Samuel.

The couple are quietly confident that they will achieve the points they require to go to college.

“You know, if there is determination, anything is possible,” says Samuel. “Prepare yourself. Nobody else can do it for you. Put in the work and everything else will fall into place.”

The Leaving Cert exams get underway tomorrow and run until June 22.

More in this section

Sponsored Content