KWASU best graduate reveals what she do to survive
Damilola Ogunbiyi was the overall best graduating student of Kwara State University, Malete, in the 2017/2018 session. She had 3.89/4.00 Cumulative Grade Points Average from Zoology Department. In this interview with SUCCESS NWOGU, she talks about her experience in school
- 1 How best can you describe the feeling when you were announced as the best graduating student?
- 2 You won some awards, what were they?
- 3 At the time you were admitted into the university, was it your ambition to be the best graduating student?
- 4 So how did you achieve the feat?
- 5 What was your reading habit like?
- 6 Were there challenges you faced as an undergraduate?
- 7 Were there times you had to source for funds on your own or did your parents provide everything for you?
- 8 Which primary and secondary schools did you attend?
- 9 Were you sociable in school?
- 10 Does that mean people didn’t see you as a serious student?
- 11 Did you keep male friends in school?
- 12 What is your advice to students still in school?
- 13 What is your assessment or concern about the educational system in Nigeria?
How best can you describe the feeling when you were announced as the best graduating student?
I felt very great. I was very happy because I wasn’t expecting it. Before then, I had known the result because it had been uploaded, but I never knew that I was going to be the best graduating student. I had 3.89 Cumulative Grade Points Average. I never knew it would turn out like that. I used to know of someone in the Tourism and Hospitality Management department, who had been leading since her first year. During our first year in school, her result was pasted and she had top grades. Then my grade point was around 3.4. So, I bless God and I appreciate Him for the success I achieved.
You won some awards, what were they?
I won the Senate Prize for Best Student in Pure and Applied Sciences; Senator Bukola Saraki Prize for Best Student in Pure and Applied Sciences; and awards for the Best Female Student and Overall Best Graduating Student.
Do you recall how your parents received the news when you were announced as the best graduating student?
They were so excited; they felt like they were on top of the world. Anyone could notice that that they were nobody but that I had taken them somewhere.
At the time you were admitted into the university, was it your ambition to be the best graduating student?
No, not at all.
So how did you achieve the feat?
It was God who actually helped me throughout my stay in school. I never dreamt of being the best in my set. However, the inspiration to aim for the top came after I saw my result at the end of the first year. I had a little above 3.40 GPA in the first semester and in the second semester, I had 4.00. When I saw the 4.00, I was inspired to make that the benchmark, telling myself I could be the best graduating student if I kept it up.
What was your reading habit like?
I would say I wasn’t a fan of reading. In fact, I sometimes found it difficult to read. My area of strength was that once I was in class, whatever my lecturers taught me, I assimilated fast, and after that, I would do further research on them. Before we resumed for any semester, I would have collected past question papers and course outlines from my senior students. I would have downloaded relevant materials on the Internet and I would have gone to the library to read up on them. I registered at the Kwara State Library in Ilorin, and I used the place anytime there was an opportunity. And once we resumed, I found each of the courses easy because I had read up on them ahead. I didn’t read for a long time except when we were having tests or examinations.
Were there challenges you faced as an undergraduate?
There were difficult courses and of course not all lecturers were the same. Specifically, there was a course, Animal Diversity, which had a wide syllabus. If you were not a serious student, you would find it hard to pass the course. Also, there were some courses; for example, Genetics, which I offered in my final year that also had wide syllabuses. If you were not in class and you did not hear what the lecturer taught, the person might have difficulty understanding the course. Also, my project wasn’t easy; it was challenging, especially in terms of research, but it helped me a lot eventually. I was able to understand the practical aspect of the course first-hand. The other challenge I faced trying to effectively combine my academic work with students’ union politics. I contested the position of the vice-president of the students’ union of my school and I won. So, there were times we might have a lecture and I would be called to come for a meeting. Thus, combining the two tasks wasn’t easy but I thank God I scaled through.
Were there times you had to source for funds on your own or did your parents provide everything for you?
No, they did not provide everything for me because they were not financially strong. They could only try their best to send me to school. We are two; my younger brother, Daniel, and I. At a stage in my educational journey, my mother lost her job, due to the state of the Nigerian economy at that time. Thus, the load was on my father, a civil servant. Things were very challenging that he had to sell his car to pay my tuition. I also worked as a sales girl in an outfit in Ilorin to make more money to pay my bills in school, and I had some friends and other people who supported me by giving me money.
Which primary and secondary schools did you attend?
I attended 2nd ECWA Nursery and Primary School, Amilegbe, Ilorin, Kwara State and ECWA Secondary School, Ganmo. I had a good performance in primary school. I was told that I was a good student and it was also written in my testimonial. I was even the Library Prefect then. In my secondary school days, I knew I was good but not as good as I am now. My West African Senior School Certificate Examination result was withheld, so also was my General Certificate Examination result, before they were later cancelled. That was in 2011. But I made good grades in the National Examination Council examination in 2012 and that was what I used.
Were you sociable in school?
I engaged in good social adventure and some political activities. I was involved in talent shows, beauty pageants, and so on. I didn’t contest but I attended the programmes to have fun. I couldn’t just stay in the hostel. I thought to myself: what will I be doing? I knew I wouldn’t read, so I chose to attend to play and enjoy myself. I have always been a very jovial person and I played a lot. If you go to my school and ask of Damisu, you will find people who will tell you that they know me because I like to play.
Does that mean people didn’t see you as a serious student?
You can never see me as a type of person that is serious. I like to make jest of people and play. It was as if I was everywhere in school; if people gathered to dance, you would see me there; if they were shouting, you would see me there. That’s my nature and I enjoyed myself.
Did you keep male friends in school?
I had so many of them but our relationship was not amorous. Some of them were my course mates while some attended the same church with me. I never had romantic relationship with anybody in school.
What is your advice to students still in school?
First, they should study hard. I still have a bit of regret today that I did not read as much as I should have when I was in school. It was later I started setting a target for myself. I wanted to have 3.90 CGPA and above but I ended up with 3.89. Even though I emerged as the best graduating student, I feel I could have done better. In fact, it was so painful that I could not eat that night. In my first year, as someone who had just been admitted, one would be happy and play around; visit many places and enjoy. So, even though I was not going to parties, I was not a serious student in my first semester. That was when I had my worst result; about 3.40. Therefore, I advise students to work hard and work smart. They should read with understanding, understand themselves and set targets for themselves. They should be themselves; it helps a lot. I didn’t have to start reading because my roommate was reading. Students should set goals for themselves and after some time, assess whether they achieved those goals. They should also pray and move close to God. No matter what human efforts they put in and abilities that they have, if God does not approve of their efforts, they will have no meaningful results. It is by God’s grace that they can make it. So they should please move close to God. If they are facing any changes, they should please put them before God.
What is your assessment or concern about the educational system in Nigeria?
Nigerian universities do not have adequate infrastructure and equipment, and I think government should provide more. That is why you see students using their money to buy things that should be available in schools. The government should help us. We need so many things in my department. As zoologists, we need zoological garden. There are some courses that would have been better understood if we had a zoo. In my third year, I took a course in animal behaviours, and understandably, before you could know the behaviour of any animal, you would have to study them. I would leave my school at Malete and go to the University of Ilorin zoological garden and I would stay there for hours just to study animals. That would have been easier if my school had one, and these are some of the areas where we need government to come to our rescue. I believe that if public schools are well-funded, there will be an overall improvement in the education sector. You will also like this; 5 Teenage Boys Gang Rape: Lady lands in trouble for allegedly selling, circulating rape video