Busayo Aduloju, 20, was the second best graduating student of Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, in the 2018/2019 academic session after having 4.94/5.00 CGPA. She tells TUNDE AJAJA about her success in school
At the time you gained admission, did you plan to graduate with a first-class degree like you did?
Yes, I actually planned to be the overall best student in my set. I was conscious of what it would require and I made strategic efforts to make it happen. However, someone else made it. But, regardless, I’m glad I put in my best and God crowned my efforts. I have also, by virtue of that experience, realised that hard work and planning should be intertwined. If you work hard and you do not have a goal in mind, after some time, there is a possibility that you would lose focus. But once you aim to achieve something and you give it your all, with God’s wisdom, you will achieve it.
Did the combination of hard work and planning make the goal easier for you to attain?
Graduating with a first-class degree was not easy but I knew it was possible. I had to give up a lot of things and do some extra studying when I should have engaged in some pleasurable activities; I had sleepless nights despite the cold weather in Iwo, (where the school is located), and that weather was always calling me to my bed, hypothetically, while reading at night (laughs).
And there were other pleasurable things that were bigger temptations. However, I thank God, first of all, and then my family members and finally friends and colleagues for the roles they played.
Would you say your commitment to your studies was self-driven or did your parents compel you to be more studious?
I won’t say I have always done that on my own. I remember when I brought my junior West African Senior School Certificate Examination result home and had C and D in all my subjects, my father queried me. I said, “Daddy, this is not my result,” and he gave me a funny response. He said, “Seriously! Then, where did you collect this one from (laughs)?” I could tell he wasn’t happy with my performance. But, despite that, I won’t say I was coerced; I was nurtured over time to take my studies more seriously.
At what point did your performance improve?
From my primary to senior secondary school, I was an average student, and you could tell from the grade I said I had in WASSCE. But at some point, my mum got me occupied by getting me so many lesson teachers. I can’t thank her enough for that because it helped. In fact, I remember in my secondary school when my mum would come on our visiting days and beg my friends to explain things to me so I could also be better.
However, when God singles you out to make you a testimony, you have to be ready to play your part. By the time I saw my WASSCE result and how fantastic I performed, I knew I had set the standard for myself and everybody would be expecting me to do even better. I took that as a challenge and since then, I have loved winning.
For yielding to their counsel and having things to show for it, were there times your parents rewarded you for good performance?
My dad always gave me money whenever I performed well. He would always say, “The bigger the result, the more the money.” That was somewhat a good motivation, and when I lost my dad in my third year, my mum continued the practice. It was just their special way of rewarding me and I appreciate them.
How difficult was it coping with your dad’s death?
The death of a loved one is never easy. We had just finished our first semester exam, and on getting home, I heard the news; he died the night preceding that day I got home. It wasn’t easy but thank God we are all doing him proud.
What are the fond memories of your growing up days that you still have?
I remember those times when my dad would buy us ice cream. It was such moments my big sister, who was smarter than us, would say we should act a drama. She would be the ‘mother’ and we would be her children. That was how she always finished our ice cream while playing the role of ‘mummy’ (laughs).
Do you still recall what attracted you to economics?
I attended Apostolic Faith Secondary School and I can beat my chest and say I was lucky to have the best ever economics teacher, Mr Abolarin. I noticed how much he loved the course and whenever he was dictating notes to us, his eyes were always closed. It was like he was in a different realm. The passion he had for the subject rubbed off on me and gradually economics became more than a subject to me; I developed deeper interest in it and I’m happy I made that choice.
Economics has wide applications and job prospects, where would you like to work?
I am interested in going into core finance; investment banking, asset management, global market and research. Prominent finance firms, both at home and abroad, would be great places to work. The ability to convert theoretical knowledge into something practical and useful is another ball game. Having the opportunity to do so with big merchant banks; the big four banks and multinational firms will be invaluable for me and I look forward to it.
After your first degree, what are your immediate plans?
After my graduation, I started preparations for my professional exam. I enrolled for the Chartered Financial Analyst exam. From reading and having met with people in the finance industry, I would love to be an investment banker or asset manager. I really enjoy courses like Fixed Income, Derivatives, Portfolio management and Corporate Finance. That is just the beginning though. I love taking on challenges, so I’m sure there are very promising and fulfilling years ahead.
Is there anything you would have loved to do as a student that you could not do?
I tried to make my last days in school count. So, the things I initially deprived myself of, I welcomed them during my final year. But I would say I was able to do that without paying for it because I had already laid a solid foundation.
Were there things you did that you think gave you an edge?
Everyone has their goals and stories to tell. To someone else, a second-class upper could be a great achievement, but for me, I came prepared to be the best from my first year. My sister finished as the overall best in Bowen University 2014/2015, so I knew the pressure that was on me to do well also. I didn’t want to disappoint myself or those who believed in me. And part of what I did was to identify the studying pattern that worked for me, especially by identifying the courses I wasn’t so good at and deliberately focusing more on them, not because I wanted to pass, but to understand all my courses.
When you are in practice, you never know when an aspect of what you learnt in school would be needed, so I placed emphasis on understanding than just reading to pass. That’s why I didn’t judge the quality of my studying by the number of hours I had put into it. The hours do not really matter because sometimes you can be reading but not understanding what you are reading.
There are students who would believe that with your kind of result, you must have been a bookworm who didn’t create time for other things, was your experience close to that?
Those who assumed that are partially correct. My second hostel was the library. I used the library to the point that the workers in the library knew me and my sitting position. Beyond that, I also let go of a lot of things, like not going home for Easter; not attending some social events and such things that would naturally be of interest to students. I didn’t want to toy with my CGPA. If I had attended those events and did not have time to read for a test that was scheduled for the following day, I wouldn’t have been able to reverse that time I wasted.
Does it mean you were not sociable?
No, this question is a trap (laughs)! I’m naturally a funny person and I’m sociable to an extent. When I entered Bowen, I thought I could be a quiet lady and throughout my first year, I hardly spoke or cracked jokes in class. But after sometime, I couldn’t keep up with it and I became my funny self again, which made the rest of my days in the university fun.
Sometimes, students have difficulty with acclimatising with the school environment in their first year, what was it like for you?
I think I was very happy. I was happy to have my first bank account, my first ATM card and my first allowance with no one telling me how to spend it (laughs). Leaving for the university was exciting for me. Acclimatising to the school environment was easy. I consider myself to be a tough lady, so I tend to cope with things some other may complain about.
There are people who still see being in private universities as being in boarding school, especially because you didn’t have the liberty to go home anytime you wanted, were there times you missed being home?
It is different from a boarding school. You can collect exeat to go home. So, of course, there were times I missed home and it was because I missed my family and home food.
Do you believe in having mentors?
I believe in having mentors. My big sister is someone I always look up to. Over time, I have also had the opportunity to meet people whose paths were related to the path I want to take or who I envisioned myself to be and so I look up to them for advice and guidance. Having someone you can run to for help really matters.
You once said godliness and excellence helped you in your studies and that both cannot substitute each other, could you expatiate on this?
The motto of Bowen University is Godliness and Excellence and the school tries its best to blend the two. There were times when I feared if all I aspired to would come into fruition. By kneeling down, saying a word of prayer, or going to the chapel to just meditate or even listen to God’s word, my worries disappeared and I became energised again. I grew up in a Christian home and my dad always said, “Your Book, Your God”. It meant that you cannot place your book above God and you should not let your service to God hinder your academic success. He encouraged us to always find a perfect balance.
For as many students who admire your success and wish to have your kind of success, what is your advice to them?
Determination! They should set high standards. Don’t tell people your goals if you know they won’t help you. As much as possible, understand yourself and understand the system you are in. Ask yourself, am I a night reader? Can I combine other activities with my studies? Can I manage having lots of friends? There are many more questions they should ask themselves.
And to those who have just gained admission, they have a fresh opportunity to start strong and be better. For those who know its worth, success is addictive. Once you taste it, you would not want to go below that standard. If you feel you’re below, push yourself harder, you can do it. The human spirit can achieve anything it plans to.
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