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‘I Battled With Amnesia During My 200L’ Says First Class Graduate Of UNILORIN

CURSORY: He had issues remembering what was taught. He had financial issues. Meet Oluwaseun Olaniyi Olalere a First Class graduate of the University of Ilorin who conquered numerous challenges to make it to the top.

Oluwaseun Olaniyi Olalere is a first class graduate of the University of Ilorin, UNILORIN. He shares his story during an interview.

In an interview by YUSUF ABDULKADIR, Oluwaseun talks about his academic journey

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KEY (Q – Question, R – Responds)

Q. Tell us about your background.

R. I hail from Ogbomoso, Oyo State, where I started my education before we relocated to Ilorin, Kwara State. I completed my primary education at Precious Stars Basic School.

I attended Oluwatoyin Progressive Secondary School for my secondary education and graduated among the best in my class.

This has been my culture right from elementary school. I am someone who believes that anyone can be what he/she wants to be with determination.

This Ideology has helped me make sacrifices and do all things needed to be done to succeed.

Q. What sparked your interest in Biochemistry?

R. My passion for biochemistry grew when I was in senior secondary school (SS) 3. I had a great interest in chemistry, probably because of the special tutoring I received from my chemistry teacher back then.

I also had a great passion for understanding the physiology of organisms, so I liked biology. Relating these two together, I decided to go for biochemistry, even though that was not what it was.

I also subsequently looked into the career prospects in biochemistry and I found it appealing. My interest in biochemistry made me choose it three different years as my first choice of course during my application before I was later admitted.

During the first two years — not that I did not meet the course requirements — I was not offered admission.

Q. How does it feel being a First Class graduate?

R. I felt very grateful to God who counted me worthy and crowned all my labour and efforts. It was not easy having to start with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.59 from my 100 level first semester and making it to a First Class.

One thing I did was to set a target for myself that I wanted a First Class. Then, I ensured to work hard to achieve my goal. To me, if you have a pursuit, you will do all to achieve it, leaving all side distractions.

I remember during my SS3 when I registered for only WASSCE for my O’level exam, I intentionally gave my phone to my mum so that I could focus on my books and it indeed paid off as I finished among the best in my class.

Q. How would you have felt if you had graduated with any grade other than a First Class?

R. Although I might be downcast for a while because I desire to graduate with a First Class, I will still be grateful to God. He has the power to make all plans/desires come true, and I have received this achievement from Him.

I also believe that my final result was an expression of my true potential. Regardless of one’s grade, the long-term use of the degree is the most important thing.

Q. What was your reading pattern like?

R. My reading pattern was of varying kinds. As I have mentioned earlier, I started with a GPA of 3.59, probably because I stayed at home for 3 years, seeking admission without going for any tutorials, and then I began to forget the art of reading.

Firstly, I had night classes most often and made use of the school and faculty libraries during the day. I remember during my 200 level, when I had no phone and needed to read some materials, I ensured that some of the materials were sent to my email, while I went to the qe-library to open them and read.

When I resumed my final year, I was encouraged by my elder brother, Ifeoluwa Olalere, to improve my reading habit knowing that I was aiming at something great.

This I yielded to, reading day and night, including group discussions with my friends, with utmost discipline, until my graduation.

Q. What is your take on the state of education, especially university education, in Nigeria compared with what is obtainable elsewhere?

R. I have read and heard about the educational structure and the general state-of-art in developed countries which makes it enticing to travel abroad for educational purposes due to amazing research, technologies, conducive learning environment, etc., which are present in those schools.

Although we are still far behind, I believe that with our intentionality, the Nigerian university education system can be improved more and we will be at the same stage with the rest of the universities in developed countries.

The government and private organisations should invest in our tertiary education to build and equip our research facilities.

Also, universities could partner with international institutions/organisations to donate learning resources. I know UNILORIN is currently doing this.

They recently received book donations worth millions of naira from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom. I believe collaboration such as this will reduce gaps between African universities and universities in developed countries.

Thanks to the past government for instituting the Industrial Training/Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (IT/SIWES).

This gave students industrial and some basic machine operation knowledge and skills. I am an optimistic individual and I believe that someday our education system will do better than the present stage we are in.

Q. What was your relationship with your peers like?

R. I had a good relationship with many of my peers, both in the department and beyond, and that is why my nickname, Shalom, is well-known in the department.

I also belong to a group of nine like-minded individuals in the department — among us, we had seven First-Class and two strong second-class upper graduates.

Q. Were you involved in other school activities?

R. Yes. I have a great passion for artistic expression, so I joined my department drama committee for presentations at conferences.

I was also part of a student fellowship, BSF, where I took up the responsibilities as the president of my association throughout my four years in school, and concurrently as the Bible study and discipleship coordinator at the Kwara State conference level for two years.

I also volunteered during this time as a health personnel with YALI, a biology and science tutor with BSF, and others.

Q. What major challenges did you face studying at UNILORIN?

R. I faced the challenges of finance. I needed money to do many things, so I took up some private tutorials for senior secondary school students.

I ensured to arrange it well in such a way that it did not affect my classes.I also faced some health challenges. I remember when I developed headaches and eye pains during my 300 level which almost affected my performance.

I also battled with amnesia during my 200-level second-semester exams, thank God for my good performance during my tests that helped my overall grade that semester — I had a 4.30 GPA.

So, as an academic excellence enthusiast and coach, I always advise students to take their tests seriously, just like their exams, because they have a significant impact on their overall marks, and ultimately their grades.

Q. What was your happiest moment in school?

R. My happiest moment in school was on my convocation day. I have never thought that I could be more excited than that. But all thanks to God who counted me worthy.

Q. What are your career goals?

How will your academic achievements help you accomplish them?

R. I seek opportunities to further my studies overseas. My long-term career goal is to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy and join the body of academics to further fuel research related to health, to improve the health and well-being of the people.

I also have a plan to volunteer with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health to use my acquired skills in several areas of the ministry. My passion is to continue in academics. So, my academic achievement will contribute a great quota to accomplishing my goals.

Q. Who are your role models?

R. All successful individuals are my role models, most especially scientists. Although I am a Baptist, I look up to Professor Daniel Olukoya, the General overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM), who was successfully a scientist and a pastor.

Q. What would you advise students who desire excellent academic results and feat?

R. Determination is very important in whatever a man chooses to do. A man who is determined is the man who will ensure to achieve his aim amidst all side distractions.

Ensure to work hard. Let the extent to which you work be an expression of your full potential. By working, I meant reading and attending carefully to your studies. Also, always seek for mentorship.

Meet people who have trod the path before you to guide you. There are many academic excellence enthusiasts and coaches who can guide you.

After an initial setback with a 3.59 GPA in the first semester of 100 level, I intensified my efforts, leading to a 4.67 GPA in the second semester.

This was possible because I had confidence in my abilities and knew how to set reasonable expectations for myself. Finally, God is the all-knowing (Omniscient).

Good and great success only comes from God. I would advise all students to do all things through Him and in Him alone.

READ ALSO: ‘I can’t marry a lady without a degree. Over my dead body.” – Uni Graduate Breaks Hearts



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