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Likeness for my course & hard-work made me the best says Taiwo, UNILAG graduate with 5.00 CGPA

Twenty one-year-old Bankole Taiwo and one other student emerged as the best graduating students of the University of Lagos in the 2015/2016 academic session, as they both had 5.00 CGPA, best described as perfect score. Taiwo graduated from the Department of Cell Biology and Genetics. In this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, she shares the secret to that success

Between when you graduated and now, what has changed about people’s relationship with you?

A lot has really changed over the time. I have had calls from old friends and more friend requests on my social media. I believe those are traceable to my performance in school.

What about offers from companies?

The offers keep coming, but I received an offer from the university to be a lecturer and I would like to embrace that. Based on what (the offers) I have at hand now, I would consider lecturing. Moreover, my dream as a child was to impart knowledge and motivate people.

Have you always had this kind of result?

I had good results in my previous schools but it got better in the higher institution because I had to forgo subjects that I did not like. During my O’level, I had a good result in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination; I passed all my subjects but I didn’t do well in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination because I was sick during the exam; I had 199. But I didn’t allow that to delay my admission. I still gained admission the same year I finished from Command Secondary School, Ipaja, because I opted for Diploma programme in UNILAG and I gained admission into 200 level through Direct Entry. The cut-off mark was 2.5 CGPA, and I had 4.28. So, I was good to

Was Cell Biology and Genetics the course you had always wanted?

Initially, I wanted to study medicine, but unfortunately I could not get the cut off mark in UTME, so I enrolled for diploma and was given Cell Biology and Genetics. I enjoyed the course. It’s a very broad course; involving the study of environmental biology, cell biology, molecular biology, forensic biology, developmental biology and genetics. Genetics was one of the courses I really enjoyed in school, and it’s very interesting. I learnt a lot about mechanism and pathways that occur in the human system, and in evolution I learnt a lot too. With the way I enjoyed the course and the much I’ve learnt, I’m not going back to Medicine.

Would you say your likeness for the course contributed to your success or you simply worked hard?

I would say both. My likeness for the course prompted me to work hard and that contributed to my success.

Was it a definite plan when you got to school to have a 5.00 CGPA?

It was not a definite plan to have a 5.00 CGPA in school. Initially, it never occurred to me to aim for the overall best in my set, but 5.00 happened to be my first GPA and that was when I made it a target. And encouragement by my parents, friends and lecturers really helped.

5.00 CGPA meant you had A’s throughout. Were there times you almost dropped?

Yes, there were times I almost dropped in some difficult courses, but God kept me going. It was not easy to have 5.00, there were a lot of challenges and distractions, like social activities. Sometimes, some activities could be big distractions. Occasionally, power supply was also a challenge. But I thank God for everything.

What was your lowest score throughout?

That was 70 per cent.

Knowing that you needed to have A in all your courses, were there times you were anxious checking your result?

Usually, I used to tell my friends to help me check. I wasn’t checking my scores myself. But by the broadsheet was out, I would have known my performance in some of the courses. It was then I would go and check it myself.

Only two of you had that score among thousands of students in your set, what would you say you did differently from others to have that result?

I did not do anything differently but I made sure I used studying techniques that are good for me, and the major technique was to read daily. Regardless of how busy I was, I made sure I read something. It helped. Meanwhile, I served as a worker in academics unit in my church and I was into fashion too, because I have interest in fashion designing, so I had other things that I devoted my time to. But God helped me. I feel students should read well, pray, be determined, be diligent and have deep interest in what they are studying.

Did people, especially those who knew your result, see you as too serious?

Some people saw me as too serious and those were students that did not know my lifestyle. And there was no one to discourage me or make me look back because the kind of company I had was inspiring and helpful. So, for me, it wasn’t all about books. I read six hours daily, but during exams I read more than that. I read during the day and at night, and I preferred reading at night because the atmosphere is cool and quiet. It’s good to know what works for you. There were lots of time I didn’t sleep throughout the night because I needed to read. Courses related to Biology and Medicine are usually voluminous, so I had to  put more time into it and I read with the leading of the Holy Spirit, to avoid reading in vain or amiss.

Some other people might have read as much as you did but they didn’t make first class, was there another secret?

My secret was God. Also, I read like I had not prayed and I prayed like I had not read. And I had friends who really influenced my performance. I had brilliant friends, and out of the two close friends that I had throughout, one of them also had first class while the other had a second class upper division. So, they influenced me, even socially too.

Did you have time for social activities?

I was social, to my own taste. I could go to have fun if I wanted but my academics was my priority.

Some people believe that using the library often is the key to academic success, how often did you go there?

I didn’t use the library all the time, except if I had to use textbooks or read with friends. Most of the time, I used the hostel’s reading room.

What form of encouragement did you receive from your parents?

My parents rewarded me for every hard work, and that made me to be encouraged. Beyond that, I also rewarded myself. I could take myself out and give myself a good treat, go out with my friends or see movies (I’m a movie freak).

What was your growing up like?

My upbringing was very interesting; my parents taught me a lot that has really helped me face realities of life.

Were you also studying during holidays or your reading was limited to school?

I did study during holidays, and I attended fashion school so I could learn other things different from academics. There were a number of times I had to give out my pocket money for materials and textbooks. Sometimes, to have extraordinary result demands going beyond the norm.

Were you in a relationship throughout?

I saw being in a relationship in school as a distraction. I believe there is time for everything.

From your observation, why do students fail?

Lack of understanding, I guess, and parental or peer pressure to study what is not their interest and choice.

Do you believe in having mentors and do you have any?

I believe in having mentors; my lecturers were my mentors.

Did you face any challenge throughout your programme?

Yes, I faced a lot of challenges even on campus, but thank God I overcame.

Did you enjoy any scholarship throughout?

Yes, I did. The school authority gives N50,000 to all scholars (first class) every year, and all first class students are entitled to the award. That really helped me, because there were times I didn’t have money, so it helped. Then, it was very helpful when I was doing my project. I also won some awards as an undergraduate, mainly based on the fact that I had the best CGPA.

One stressful activity students groan about is their project. How was the experience?

I worked on the effect of a certain plant on malaria. I used the plant as the extract. So, I injected malaria parasite into a mice or a rat. When it started affecting them, I started inducing the extract into the mice. It was to see if it would work on the malaria, and it worked. I feel we can commercalise such with the right equipment and support. There are people who know about finding cure for some ailments but because of paucity of funds and equipment, they couldn’t do anything. I would love to advance such findings in the future.

What were your memorable moments?

I won’t forget my convocation day; January 24, 2017. It was my happiest day. My parents and siblings were really happy and proud of me. Also, I won’t forget the day I crawled out of the school premises through under the school gate. It was during the last protest which held last year. It was embarrassing. But, overall, I thank God for my experience in school.

Source: PUNCH.            

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