The best graduating student of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, in the 2012/2013 academic session, Adesola Akomolafe, 21, finished with a 4.91 CGPA from the Accounting department to lead other students and win the ultimate prize of a car. She shares her experience with our correspodent in this interview
You won a car during your convocation ceremony as the best graduating student, did you see it coming?
Yes. I saw it coming since the time I was in 100L. During our matriculation ceremony, the Executive Director of Vital Medix Nigeria, Mr. Bimbo Owolabi, promised to give a car to the best graduating student in our set. So, I thought I could be the best, and after the matriculation, I told my dad that I could get the car gift. That was the starting point for me and I started working towards it. Thank God I achieved it.
Was that what motivated you to work hard?
It was not. I read about the best graduating student of UNILAG in 2009, Deborah Olufunmi, with a CGPA of 4.96, in the newspaper, so, I pasted the newspaper cutting on the wall of my room and read the story everyday. I used to look at the picture and read the story throughout my stay on campus. That was when I decided I wanted to be the best graduating student. That story was my major motivation and then the car promise.
Was the car gift the most valuable gift you received on your convocation day?
No. The convocation and the news that I was the overall best student attracted many people to our house. My parents felt so honoured and were very happy, so, the combination of their prayers, happiness and joy that day and beyond was the most valuable gift for me. The car was very important too.
What was your dream as a child?
I wanted to be like my mum, a medical doctor, which also influenced my decision to study in the science class but Physics just refused to sink into my head. Then, I used to read a lot of novels because I lived with my grandmother, who studied English and had lots of literature books and novels. I didn’t keep many friends, so it was a good company for me. My parents used to advise me to read my school books, newspapers and books about great women so I could aspire to be like them instead of novels. Then, my mother used to take novels away from me and would tell me to read my school books. So, I wanted to study English and Literature because I never had flare for business-related courses.
How did you end up in Accounting?
My father wanted me to study something that would fit into today’s economic reality. So, in my final year in high school, I had to choose a course that satisfied some personal requirements, and Accounting seemed to fit in. That was what informed my decision, coupled with my father’s counsel, and I’m glad I made that choice. Even though I had a poor maths background because I used to be shortsighted and sat at the back in secondary school because of the way we were arranged. So, then I had no idea of whatever was going on in the front. I only tried as much as possible to listen and I never complained to my parents because I thought it was not relevant. Thank God I scaled through, and my dad gave me all the necessary books and taught me all I needed to know.
When did you start leading your class?
In my 100L second semester, and I remember that my first GPA was 4.76, but I kept improving. The lowest grade I had was 63B in Sociology because I had some challenges with Sociology then; I just wasn’t getting it. I spoke with my mum knowing that she offered it as a course in school, so she taught me certain things. I wasn’t the only one who had issues with it, so, all of us who didn’t get it came together, taught and helped ourselves, and we all had Bs. Even though I tried so hard, I had 63B.
Was there anything you did differently to achieve success at that level?
I read more, paid attention to details and put my writing skill, which I got from my literature knowledge, into very good use. So, I made sure my work was always very neat and well organised so that the reader or lecturer would be impressed. Also, one of our lecturers advised us to sit for professional exams (the accounting technician scheme). I and some of my colleagues in school would stay back during the holiday to study for the exams. It helped me personally to understand the concepts and techniques of accounting better. I grew to love the course more, so I didn’t have any difficulty; I applied the basic principles and got it right.
Since you read more than any average student would, how often did you use the library?
I used the library very often, in fact, almost every day. Sometimes, I went there in-between classes, free periods or my free time. Apart from that, I knew that the best time for me to read was in the morning, say around 5am, or anytime I slept and woke up, so I took advantage of that. Moreover, I set daily targets for myself and I slept for maximum of four hours daily.
Would you say you were a genius or you were a product of hard work?
I am a product of hard work and nobody forced me to take things seriously. I had a goal when I got to school, and that was what I worked towards. I have always had a good performance, even in my previous schools. My performances in primary school and junior secondary school were excellent, while my performance in senior secondary school was above average, so I had no problem with my 0’Level exams and UTME. I wrote them once and passed. The moral support from my family members also played a major role. Notably, I started taking life seriously when I was made the assistant senior prefect in my school. When I got home during the break, it dawned on me that for the school to have placed that responsibility on me meant that they saw something in me that I probably didn’t see. When I started feeling responsible for other people, I felt I needed to do same for myself, reorganise my priorities, balance my academics with my social life and work on my leadership skill. So, from then, I started taking things seriously, and it paid off.
Is there anything you would have loved to do as an undergraduate that you couldn’t do?
Maybe to make a very weird hairstyle, like a red colour hairstyle, so I could look differently and not look serious all the time. Even if I did something like that, it still wouldn’t change who I am or my look but I wish I had done it.
Were you social at all?
I was not very social, but I tried. Sometimes, I attended social gatherings. If I didn’t go, I could be reading, sleeping or resting. Some social gatherings could be on a weekend that I would have a tough test the following Monday. It wasn’t always easy. How would I be partying when I had a test to write on Monday? It would not have made sense. So, sometimes, I had to stay back in the hostel and do what other students were not doing. That was one of the sacrifices to achieve my goal.
Was there any peer pressure?
There is nothing like peer pressure in my dictionary, so I avoid it, if there is anything like that. Why would I allow someone to influence me to do something that is bad or against my wish? If I have principles that work for me, it will be very difficult to bend my rules, not even through the influence of a friend. So, it’s difficult for peers to pressure me into doing the things I don’t want to do.
How easy was it to graduate with a first class honour?
It was not easy, because one had to keep up the good performance, else everything would fall back to zero. Once you know you are above 4.50, you just have to keep up because there were lots of expectations, starting from myself and a lot of people looked up to me, so I just had to keep working hard. Nobody at that level wants to fail or fall. Even when you fail, you want to show people that you can cope or manage the failure. So, I didn’t allow any low moment; I kept pressing forward.
When did you know you would be the best graduating student in your set?
I had always known from my 100L and I kept working towards it. I just had the strong feeling in my mind, beyond exercising my faith. Actually, I would say I was convinced, but my GPA could have dropped if I lost the consciousness but I was determined not to fail or go for anything less. So, the consciousness that I wanted to be, and the thought that I was, kept me going. The Vice-Chancellor called me a week to the convocation day to prepare my valedictory speech. I was at home then, so I ran downstairs to meet my mother and grandmother. They were all very happy; we were all jumping and very happy. I had always wanted to prepare and read a valedictory speech since my secondary school days but I never had the opportunity to do so, when I received the call, that was another dream fulfilled, which made my graduation the best moment of my life and the most memorable because I read the valedictory speech I had always dreamt of.
What do you aspire to be in life?
I want to be a professor.
What is your advice to students, especially those already in school?
The road to the top requires consistency, resilience and a good attitude. Attitude determines your altitude. Then always remember that the future is not waiting out there to be met. It should be created now.
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