I had a seat in the school library–Adeyemo, 2017/18 Bowen varsity best graduating student
At 20, Jolaade Adeyemo emerged as the overall best graduating student of Bowen University in the 2017/2018 academic session, having scored 4.94/5.00 CGPA. In this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, she shares her experience as an undergraduate
The article contains a whole lot of lessons to all students who wish to perform academically. Read on to see how she did it.
To have emerged as the best among thousands of students couldn’t have come by happenstance; would you say it was a dream come true or hard work simply paid off?
Although God’s providence cannot be denied, I made specific plans, centred mainly on discovering myself and the system that works for me. So, yes I made the decision to graduate with a first-class degree and that was my major goal when I gained admission. I planned to have a 5.00 GPA in the first semester of my first year, with the hope of maintaining the grade afterwards. That was my driving force all through. So, what I did was to simply follow through with my identifying what worked for me. I came up with study plans and was always attentive in class because I realised that I understood things better during teaching in the classroom. I decided to be sitting in front of the class so much so that even if I was a bit late to class, my colleagues would have kept the space for me (laughs). I also made sure that I built a good relationship with my senior colleagues so that I could always make enquiries and get past questions from them.
At what point did you know you were the overall best?
I got to know close to the day of convocation. I had seen my final results but I couldn’t be so sure I was the overall best, until I got an official confirmation from the school. You can guess rightly how I must have felt, and I give all the glory to God who made it possible.
Till date, some students still see graduating with a first-class degree as a near-impossible task, what would you tell such students?
Regardless of the course, graduating with a first-class degree requires a lot of dedication, hard work and decisiveness. So, it definitely was not an easy journey. A lot of sacrifices needed to be made, including letting go of things that we would have loved to do. But I had sleepless nights, with particular reference to the days of dozing off while reading in the library and not having time to attend every social event. I’m grateful those things paid off eventually. For students who are desirous of an excellent result, I would say that the first thing is self-discovery. I discovered what worked for me and I followed through with it. That entailed knowing the time of the day I assimilate better and where to read, be it classroom, library or bedroom. Some people said I took things too seriously, but I just didn’t joke with God and my books.
However, my very close friends knew that I wasn’t always as serious as people thought. From my first year, I spent almost all my Saturdays in the library; I mean from morning till evening. I would read my notes for the week and consult other textbooks. Apart from sitting in front during lectures, I asked a lot of questions so that I wouldn’t go home and be struggling. Signing up for the ATS programme of ICAN also helped a lot, even though I needed to manage my time very well and manage my relationship with my friends and other colleagues. I had to spend my summer at lecture centres, but I still made sure I read ahead of each semester. However, I would advise students not to give room to distractions and students at all levels should know that failure is not a destination; it is an event and should be treated as such. And in addition to acknowledging God at all times, students should remain focused, determined and work hard.
Do you still recall what attracted you to accounting?
As a child, I always told myself I wanted to be a banker because I liked counting money (laughs). I guess that was just a child’s thought. Also, back then, I always loved bankers, probably because I had seen a few of them that lived comfortably and I felt impressed as a child. In junior secondary school, I discovered my strengths in commercial subjects, like Business Studies, Social Studies, and mathematics. All these gave me a reason to go to the commercial class in my senior secondary school. It has turned out to be one of the best decisions I made. I so much wanted to study accounting that when I was asked to fill in the second course of choice, I almost could not think of any other, but I eventually wrote Economics. Then, I settled for social sciences at the university. So, I would say accounting has been my dream course and my parents supported me. They believe in giving the right guidance and they did that for me then and they still do till now. And now, as an accountant, I have learnt about many sectors and industries and so I can always fit into any organisation and that makes it very interesting.
How did they react when you told them you were the overall best student in school?
They were very excited, even though it didn’t come to them as a great surprise. It was in 100 level when I first had a 5.00 GPA that my parents were so excited and they told me they were proud of me and that I should keep it up. Afterwards, they always monitored every result that followed. They kept on encouraging me not to relax or think that I had achieved everything. When I got my final semester result and I dropped from 4.97 to a 4.94, I was scared I had missed that goal of being the overall best. I told my parents and they were happy and grateful to God for the result.
Since you were the type who used the library regularly, were you one of those who had seats in the library?
I did actually (laughs). At some point, the library attendants already knew me and would always ask of me every time I was not around. The library became somewhere I enjoyed being. It was in being at the library that I would discover textbooks that some of our lecturers were using to teach us and set questions. I also had the opportunity to discuss with some other colleagues that had learnt one or two new things. But, despite the efforts I put in, I would give the credit to God, without whom I would not have achieved that level of success.
I would also say focus helped a lot. There were courses that seemed as if they were brought in to spoil my result but I just realised that they only required extra efforts. My parents also kept encouraging me and would always tell me to inform them if I had any challenges. Having friends with same minds also contributed to my success. Friends who also desired successes were the kind of people I walked and worked with. In addition, when I had 5.00 GPA in the first semester of my first year, it stirred something inside of me. It told me that if I could do that, then nothing should hinder me from graduating excellently well.
Did you also perform brilliantly in your previous schools?
Yes, and due to my academic performance in my primary school, I was made the female senior prefect. In my secondary school as well, I was elected as the Assistant Senior Prefect (female). Following the rigorous training I had been exposed to in my secondary school, Oritamefa Baptist Model School in Ibadan, I passed my West African Senior School Certificate Examination and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination at one sitting and so I didn’t have any delay in getting university admission.
Sometimes, first year students have difficulty settling down in that first semester, did you experience such?
As a first year student, one of the things that really helped me was having the right association. I drew myself close to the 300-level student that was assigned to our hostel. Fortunately for me, she was an accounting student, so I was able to learn a lot from her. Although I cried on my first day due to the overwhelming stress because I had never been to be a boarding school, so it all seemed strange. My mum used to visit me often so I think that made me very comfortable and I was able to focus properly.
As I was preparing for resumption, my dad gave me an article to read. Bowen University magazine had featured Miss Dara Jaiyeola, the best graduating student of class 2014, and she had got a scholarship for a master’s degree programme. That really inspired me. From there, I made up my mind that I would put in my best to achieve the same, and I’m very happy it happened.
What are your aspirations?
For me, influencing lives is what I want to do and be known for. I also aspire to build a very successful career and afterwards, own my business. I want to belong to an international organisation where I can see the world at a glance and contribute my quota to the world’s development.
Did you get involved in other school activities or you only focused on your education?
I learnt from my role model, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, that going just an extra mile might make the unique difference, so we should be smart. During my third and final years, I was elected as the Assistant Female Hall Shepherd and Vice President Female of the student body respectively. These positions really helped me to develop my interpersonal relationship and leadership skills as I had to interact with students and the management at different times. For sports, I was interested in basketball at a point, so I used to go to the basketball court to watch, but I guess I still have a long way to go with that.
For those who want to join the workforce, do you sometimes feel disturbed by the rate of unemployment in Nigeria?
People now know that for the limited jobs available, employers search for exceptional graduates, not just in learning but in character and productivity. The best graduates can do for themselves is to ensure that they are employable, and that can be made easy by being problem-solvers, taking professional examinations, volunteering, working as interns, attending seminars and networking. I also want to encourage people across all levels to cultivate the power of positive thinking and confessions. It helps a lot.
Would you say graduating with a first-class degree or being the overall best in your set has opened doors for you?
Of course, I’m currently undergoing my youth service programme in one of the top Pension Funds Administrators. It has also opened me to a wide network of people. I hope it also opens more doors as regards my planned postgraduate studies and job opportunities.
Where would you like to work?
For me, training and learning are very important. Having been exposed to a well-structured and cultured environment at KPMG during my undergraduate internship programme, I would like to work with such multinational companies; I mean any of the big four accounting and consulting firms.
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