Chinyere Stella Okunna is Nigeria’s first female professor in Mass communication. She has served in various capacities as an administrator and educationist in the academia and in the public/political arena.
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Early Life And Education
Born to Joshua and Christiana Adimora family, Uga in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria. Her father, Joshua Obinani was a career civil servant who served as the first indigenous/black District Officer (D.O.) in the Aguata Administrative Region in the 1950s and the Deputy Town Clerk of Port-Harcourt Municipal Council in the 1960s.
Stella Chinyere Okunna began her early education at St John’s Primary School in Ekwulobia, where her father served as a government official and ended at Township School Port-Harcourt from where she proceeded to secondary school after Primary 5. Her Secondary School education was at Anglican Girls Grammar School (which later became Girls High School) Awkunanaw, Enugu. There she obtained her WASC with Grade 1 Distinction as the Best Student in the exam in her school.
Chinyere Stella Okunna started her career as a lecturer in Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu (1981–1994) before she joined the Department of Mass Communication, Nnamdi Azikiwe University in 1994. She became the first female professor of Mass Communication in Nigeria in 2001 and remained the only Nigerian female mass communicator to attain such heights for the next twelve (12) years before the second lecturer, from the same department, also became a professor. She was the first female Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences in Nnamdi Azikiwe University (2016–2019). Before then she had been the Faculty Sub-Dean (1996-1998) and Head, Department of Mass Communication 1998–2006. She was able during this period to commence postgraduate programme (PGD, MSc and PhD) and a Professional Diploma in Journalism in that department.
Also, Stella Chinyere Okunna has served as;
- Member, National Universities Commission (NUC) Accreditation panels for Mass Communication
- External Assessor for Professorship hopefuls
- External Examiner
Her focus in academics is Development Communication/Behaviour Change Gender and Communication.
In 2006–2014, Chinyere Stella Okunna took a leave of absence from Nnamdi Azikiwe University and joined public service first as Commissioner, Ministry of Information and Culture (2006–2009). She was then appointed to serve as the Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget as well as the Coordinating Commissioner for Development Partnership/Donor Agencies (2009–2014). While still working as a Commissioner, she was also saddled with being the Chief of Staff (2012–2014)
She was also the Chair,
- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Implementation Committee (2009–2014)
- Anambra State Committee on Good Governance (2007–2014)
- Anambra State Vision 2020 (2009–2014)
Stella Chinyere Okunna has also served as a resource person and consultant to many organizations including the most prominent United Nations Organization.
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Her education and later the foray into public service exposed her to needs in communities and how individuals, NGOs and private organizations can assist and encourage young people to achieve academically. Through an NGO she had established (Adimora-Okunna Scholarship Foundation, 2003), she has been able to source for funds and provide;
- School fees for those who take first positions in two secondary schools in Ukpo
- School fees for indigent students of Ukpo in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
- A one-storey building (classrooms and an examination hall) in Walter Eze Memorial Secondary School, Ukpo. This was built in 2013 to commemorate the 10yrs anniversary of the Adimora-Okunna Foundation
- The annual Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna Prize for the Best Graduating Student of Mass Communication in Nnamdi Azikiwe University – Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000),
- The annual Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna Prize for the Best Graduating Student of the Faculty of Social Sciences – Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000)
- Annual Best Ethical Journalist Award for Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Anambra State – Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000)
- The Professor Chinyere Stella Okunna Legacy Building which houses the studios and facilities of UNIZIK 94.1FM Campus/Community Radio.
Awards And Recognition
Stella Chinyere Okunna has severally been recognized by different organizations and fora as a trailblazer in mass communication. She is a;
- Fellow, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE).
- Fellow, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR)
- Member, International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
- Member, World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)
- Member, African Council for Communication Education(ACCE)
- Member of Board of Trustees, Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN).
- Member Governing Council, Tansian University
- Kpakpando Ukpo (2003)[
- Board Member, Echi Oma Africa Foundation
Stella Chinyere Okunna has a number of scholarly works published over the years, locally and internationally as articles, books, chapters in books, monographs/occasional publications and conference papers including;
- 2018 – Development Communication in Governance in Nigeria: People at the Centre of Communication? 43rd Inaugural Lecture of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Nigeria.
- 2017: Enhancing Media Relations by Public Relations Practitioners in Governance: Lessons from the Peter Obi Administration in Anambra State, 2006-2014. Public Relations Journal, Vol. 13, Nos. 1 & 2, 2017.
- 2017: Role of the Media in Building a Culture of Peace (C.S Okunna & M. Popoola). In Pate, U. & Oso, L. (ed.), Multiculturalism, Diversity and Reporting Conflict in Nigeria. Ibadan: Evans Brothers Nigeria Limited 2017.
- 2017: “Communication Skills for Entrepreneurship”. In Alex Ikeme (ed), Entrepreneurship and Business Development. Enugu: Grand-Heritage Global Communication, 2017.
At present (2020), Chinyere Stella Okunna is the Chairperson, Anambra State Chapter of NIPR, Director of UNIZIK 94.1FM Campus/Community Radio Station and a Professor of Mass Communication at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Awka. She is also the Chair, Sensitization and Publicity subcommittee of the task force on COVID-19 in Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
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