Cursory: Chemistry first-class graduate speaks on his journey from commercial class in secondary school to studying chemistry in the university
Lawal Ridwanullah, a first-class graduate from the department of chemistry, University of Ilorin, shares his academic journey in an interview.
Please share a little about yourself and your background
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I am Lawal Ridwanullahi Adelani. I was born and brought up in Ifon Osun. I was a child born with diseases, to the extent that it made my parents believe that I would not heal up then. I was dropped in a room in our house thinking that one day I would die. The sickness involved my skin peeling up when anything touched me. My parents spent a lot and I did not get better, but through Allah’s miracle, I started getting better day by day and Alhamdullilahi, I got well and healthy. I am the second son of my mom but the third son of my dad. I was brought up in a polygamous house that is full of love.
Could you tell us about your academic journey and achievements as a first-class graduate in chemistry? What motivated you to pursue a degree in chemistry, and how has your education prepared you for a career in the field?
I have loved academics since my cradle because my parents did not allow me to go to Arabic school. This has made me put all my strength in my western knowledge. I was one of the best students in my primary school. I left my primary school when I was in primary 4. When I got to my secondary school, Al-Mansoor Model College, I held the third position in JSS1a. My school had JSS1 A to D then. We were many. As we progressed to another class, I did not make beyond the third position, I even had a fourth at some point. When we sat the junior WAEC in JSS3, another student, Muftau Kehinde and I had the best result. This inspired me to do more.
In SS1, I was a commercial student, and with the grace of Allah, I was the best overall. By SS2, my accounting teacher got a government appointment and directed the commercial students to move to the science department. We were just three. I went to the science department, one person to the arts while the other one left the school. It was not easy at all in science then. The second best overall was in science, I even led him by a small margin. In my school, the overall best student received scholarships covering tuition for the entirety of the following class. I wanted to have this again. When I got home, I told my dad that I wanted to cross to science. That day, he bought every textbook I would need. I began studying but I did not understand anything. Then I met my brother Ganiyu Abdulafeez (J. Cole), he was also a teacher in my school. He taught me the basics of science. At the end of the first term in SS2, despite that I led them all in mathematics, further mathematics and physics, I was the second best overall. I also had the best result in our WAEC.
Studying chemistry at undergraduate level was not my dream. I tried UTME three times to study pharmacy. I had 180 in my first jamb. I was offered Wildlife and Forestry at OOU. I then thought of a course that is closer to pharmacy, that was how I came about chemistry. Chemistry was my worst subject in secondary school. Then I applied to the UNILORIN Remedial programme. I did UTME and passed, then I was offered admission. I still had the intention to study pharmacy, so I was not serious with chemistry in my first year, I had 4.02. I sat another UTME when I was in my first year and scored 287.
Funnily, I was offered home economics. Then I decided to be serious with chemistry. I believed in a one-man show and it affected me very well. There were lots of materials that I was not aware of which questions were set from. Luckily, I met my best friends, Garba Habeeb Bello, Kareem Ibraheem and others. Also my boss and brother, words cannot describe him, AbdulHakeem (CEREBRUM). Meeting these brothers really helped me a lot. We read, discussed and exchanged ideas together. I did not have the motive of graduating with a first-class degree but I love that I have it. On campus, I was a politician and a tutor. These endeavors ate my time. My aim was just to read and pass chemistry. But surprisingly, I emerged first-class starting from 200 level, 300 and eventually 400 level. This helped me to bag a first-class (4.5) cumulatively.
So not being able to get admission to study pharmacy was my motivation to study chemistry. I wanted to do well in chemistry because there’s an aspect of pharmacy in chemistry: pharmaceutical chemistry. Chemistry department lecturers are so superb. Lots of best brains with experience. These lecturers motivated and prepared us all well. With my knowledge in chemistry, I can do a lot of professional work in chemistry.
Have you participated in any internships or practical experiences during your time at university?
We did not go for internships during our time. But the laboratory practicals that I did at school inspired and motivated me a lot. They exposed me to things I read in books and this enabled me to read more.
In your opinion, what are the most significant opportunities for chemists today?
There are many opportunities for chemists, including scholarship opportunities. Also, many industries request for chemist knowledge, for example, factories producing water and bread, drug manufacturing companies, food processing companies, fertilizer companies and cement companies, among others.
Do you have any role models you look up to in the field?
Yes I have role models, they include Professor L.A. Usman, Professor S.O. Oguntoye, Dr. R.O. Ismaheel, and Dr. Hamid.
What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
My goals are to become a lecturer and to help the nation with innovations. I wish to further my studies in the field to acquire more knowledge to help me to achieve these goals.
After your bachelor’s degree, what next?
If I get a good job offer, I will take it, otherwise, I’ll go for a master’s degree
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