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I took UTME three times – Omolayo, a first-class graduate of RUN

Reginald Moyo Omolayo graduated from the Department of History and International Relations, Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State with a first-class degree in 2018 with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.63. He tells IHUOMA CHIEDOZIE how he was able to do well in school

Looking back, are you happy with the choice you made when choosing History and International Relations?

Yes, I am very happy. I realised that studying history is very important because it allows us to understand our past, which in turn allows us to understand the present situation we find ourselves in. This has thus provided me with an insight into our origin as well as cultures with which we might be less familiar, thereby increasing cross-cultural awareness and understanding.

What informed your decision to study History and International Relations?

When I was a lot younger, I was always curious about Nigerian history, African history, world history and how different nations related with one another. That had an influence on my decision.

Was it your personal decision to go to a private university?

No, it was not. Gaining admission was tough for me after my secondary school education. I actually wanted to study in a public institution but due to unfavourable circumstances, it was difficult to gain admission to such. Also, because Redeemer’s University is a faith-based school, my mum felt it would help to shape my life as I would acquire good morals.  Eventually, I realised that this is true as that was what happene

Was it easy for you to graduate with a first-class degree?

It was not easy. Graduating with a first-class degree involves a lot of hard work, consistency and sleepless nights. I had to engage in a lot of group works, reading and tutorials. Also, communication with friends also helped as I often engaged in a lot of group discussions. In a nutshell, it was achieved through hard work, dedication, and God.

How many of you graduated with a first-class degree in your class?

We were two who graduated with a first-class degree in the College of Humanities. Both of us were from the Department of History and International Studies.

Did you go out of your way to make and keep friends that would not distract you in school or were you not influenced in any way by the friends you had?

I am actually a very social person and I made a lot of friends while in school. However, I chose to be closer to specific friends who actually contributed to my well-being and progress. I had a study group which comprised both males and females. We had time to have some fun but when we were studying, we did so passionately and we helped one another to grow academically and morally. Also, I had a girlfriend in my early years in school and I really appreciate her as a person, but I had to set a limit to the things we did so that I would not be too distracted from my goals. In all we do, we shouldn’t forget the main reason why we are wherever we are and one must make sure one does not get carried away with the pleasures of life.

Was there any strategy you deployed that worked for you?

Yes. When I was in school, I didn’t start with having results that would make me graduate with a first-class degree. Initially, I was just sitting examinations to pass. It was not until I developed a reading style in Year two that my results started improving. This helped me to start getting grades that would make me graduate with a first-class degree by Year three. I read for, and took every test and examination like it was my final examination.

Did you have time for social events at all?

Oh yes, I actually made time for social events. Funnily enough, with the little free time I had, I was elected the vice president of my department and a student representative council member when I was in Year three. I also bought the SRC Presidency nomination form but the election was suspended. In Year four, I became the Social Director of the Students’ Union and President of the 2018 graduating class. Hence, I had to establish a balance between my social activities, spiritual activities, sports activities and my education. In all I did, I never forgot the main reason why I was in school, which was to acquire knowledge and core values. Hence, establishing a reading culture helped in this regard as I never forgot my books in the midst of all I engaged in.

Did you have to sacrifice anything in order to excel in your studies?

Yes. I sacrificed my time mostly. There were sleepless nights.

Did you at any point feel that you had to graduate with a first-class?

We can call it a challenge because I believed I could attain it and I eventually did. I set the goal and I wrote the grades I wanted to have even before I took my examinations.

Have you imagined what it would have felt like if you did not graduate with a first-class degree after working so hard?

I worked hard and I was actually optimistic.

How would you have felt if you had failed to achieve it?

Life would go on, but it would have been painful. We must realise that we have the ability to learn every day, even on the streets. The acquisition of knowledge does not stop.

What are your aspirations? Where would you like to work?

My aspiration is to have meaningful contributions and an impact in achieving a greater Nigeria. I would love to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in international organisations, and some day, hold a political office in Nigeria.

How did your parents and siblings feel after you graduated with a first-class degree?

They were really happy. Over the years in school, my family gave me a big support. Any time we were about to start our examinations, I would call my mum. I would say, “Hello, mummy! E ma gba adura fun mi o (Keep me in your prayers).” I promised everybody that I was going to have good results in school. My dad was also an inspiration as we often talked about related topics because it is essential we understand that no knowledge is useless. So I am really glad I made my family and loved ones proud and I definitely hope to attain more heights in the nearest future.

Were there times your parents rewarded you for your performance?

Although I won the Silver Scholar Scholarship twice in Year two and Year three, I think paying my tuition in a private university in Nigeria was enough reward for me. Also, I received immense support morally, physically and financially from my parents.

What do you think students should be doing that they don’t do?

Students need to get their priorities right; some students only go to school to have fun. You would have enough fun when you are on break or when you eventually graduate. They need to develop a reading culture or style. They should be hard-working in whatever they do, and take every test and examination seriously. Doing this would propel them towards success.

Some people are of the view that it is harder to maintain a first-class grade or position than to attain it. Were there times you almost gave up?

Personally, I would say it boils down to the foundation any individual has in the institution. How you start sometimes really matters. You need to put in enough hard work when you are in Year one and Year two. If not, to graduate with a first-class degree would be tough. However, maintaining a first-class position can also be difficult as it requires continuous hard work till you graduate.

Were you the best in your class in secondary school?

(Laughs) No! I was not. I was an average student. Have I always excelled in exams? No. I took the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination three times.

Do you have an idea of why students fail in school?

I would say it is because some students do not read at all, while some wait till it’s a day to a test or an examination before they glance through their lesson notes. If you do not read or have sufficient knowledge, a miracle would hardly happen for you that would make you excel in an examination.

What was the longest period of time that you spent reading?

I started reading at 10.30pm in my room, and stopped reading by 4.30am. I left the hostel at some minutes past 8am the next morning. I had breakfast, then started reading again till 3pm, took water and continued reading till 9pm.


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