Twenty-year-old Olomukoro Enameguono emerged as the second best graduate of Covenant University in the 2015/2016 academic session with 4.96 CGPA, which was just 0.01 lesser than that of the best graduate. She graduated from the Department of Applied Biology and Biotechnology. In this interview, she tells TUNDE AJAJA how she took the news and her experience in school
Most students who study Biology have their eyes on Medicine, but they resort to Biology as a closer alternative. Was that the situation you also found yourself?
Yes, I actually wanted to study Medicine. When I was young, I thought of having my own hospital because I loved the white overall the doctors usually wear, but it didn’t work out. I sat for the post-Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination test in three schools and I got admission in all but only Covenant University gave me what I applied for, and that was Applied Biology and Biotechnology. So I chose it. And now, I have even lost interest in Medicine.
But Biology is a course some people try to run away from in secondary school because it is seen as voluminous. How did you develop interest in it?
I agree that biology is voluminous but I love it because it is not abstract, and I love drawing. I understood it easily because there were diagrams that explained all the theories we were taught, and that made it simple. The practical classes were also very interesting.
What were the things you found interesting about the human body since that is basically what it’s all about?
Mainly, the course has to do with the practical application of biological knowledge and molecular skills in various industries. There is a lot more to Biology than people know. So, the study of human system is just a fragment of it and it is always fun to learn about it because it enables you to know all the things going on in the body: the functions of the heart, the kidney, the lungs, liver, sense organs and all the systems, including how enzymes function. It makes me wonder how these small organs perform so much in the body, and they are very delicate. I still find it hard to believe how a zygote develops into an embryo and then into a foetus and finally into a baby in the small uterus. It makes me appreciate God more.
Given the volume of work, what was your reading pattern like?
I start reading early to avoid accumulating the work-load. Once the lecture timetable was released, I would prepare my reading timetable. Although I didn’t follow it 100 per cent, I tried as much as possible to read every day, even if it was for one hour. I love reading in a quiet place, so most of the time, I visited the library. It was my second home, more so that it was always quiet, we had Wi-Fi and most of the materials I needed were available. If I had a stressful day, I would eat and sleep in the hall in order to read at night, say between 12am and 4am. So, those who think they give marks freely to students in private schools should have a rethink.
You could have emerged as the overall best, but for a little margin. How did you feel when you heard about it?
It was really painful. I almost fell from my seat when I first heard of it. The difference was just 0.01. But, I thought about everything and just allowed it to be knowing full well that the best graduating student, Winner, also deserved it. I believe God had a plan and if He so desired it that way, then let it be. I was not happy about it. As at my fourth year alpha semester, Winner and I were on the same CGPA (4.97). Nobody knew who would be the overall best. In omega semester, I was so sure of my result, but when the result came out, I checked and was shocked to see a ‘B’ in a one-unit course which made me drop by 0.01. But, my parents also encouraged me to let go, as it could be the will of God.
Did you aim to be the overall best in your set?
I never had my eyes on being the overall best. My plan initially was to graduate with a first class and I thank God it became a reality. When I was in first year, I interacted with my seniors in the department and I realised that there was no first class student from 200 Level to 400 Level. So my desire was to change that and bring light to my department. Having a first class isn’t easy. It is like gold which you have to dig deep to get. One has to be focused, dedicated, determined and disciplined. Above all, as a Christian, I had to depend on the Holy Spirit for help. It was not easy but I believe all the stress and sacrifice was worth it. Growing up, I had always wanted to be associated with good things and I also aimed for the best in everything I did. My driving force was Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might.”
Having 4.96 CGPA couldn’t have come easy, how did you do it?
Success requires a lot of hard work. I had a model that worked for me. I read to understand and I made sure I started early. I read as if I was going to teach someone, so I read in-between lines and I had a note where I summarised all I had read from different sources for each course, highlighting the important terms with red biro. During exam time, I hardly opened my laptop to read, I would revise that note and I would be fine. I also downloaded materials from Google and watched videos on YouTube. At the beginning of each semester, I met with my seniors to know their challenges in each of the courses for that semester and they would give me tips on each course. That was a guide and it was helpful. I didn’t hesitate to meet people for help in areas I found difficult and sometimes I went to the lecturer in charge for further explanation. I believe my success is centred on Jesus as He gives the strength to succeed. There was one event I won’t forget. There was a particular course I prepared very hard for, and on getting to the exam hall, I did not know whether to cry or not because it was as if I didn’t read. I started praying in tongues and after a while, understanding came and I was able to answer the questions. The Holy Spirit is the source of wisdom and understanding. Before I submit my answer booklet, I always prayed over it, and I had people who mentored me both spiritually and academically from my 100 Level till I graduated.
Was there any form of reward from your parents for your excellence?
Yes! Always! I would say they are specialists in that area. They know how to give surprises. They were always excited seeing my result and they rewarded me to encourage me to do more. The rewards were in different forms. I really thank them for that. Actually, my performance dates back to the way my parents brought us up. They followed and monitored our academics very closely and I remember that my performance in my primary and secondary schools were outstanding and I also won prizes. I was also introduced to reading early, which made reading fun for me. I would say I had a very solid foundation which helped me when I entered the higher institution. Also, growing up in a spiritual home, prayer and the word of God were key. My parents would always pray for us and prophesy the word of God over our lives and they taught us to do the same. I noticed also that my parents never used foul words on us, even if we didn’t perform well.
With your result, some people would think it was all about your books while in school. Were you involved in other activities?
Yes, I was. I was an executive in my departmental association and I was a part of an academic group called The Success Congress, where I served as the Vice President, Operations. I was in a service unit (Word Study) and I was also a cell leader, a floor chaplain and wing chaplain. God helped me to manage my time
Did you have any challenges throughout your stay in school?
Not really. That was my first time of leaving the house, so I was not used to the boarding style; everything was strange and it took me some time to adjust. Then, I resumed late in my first year because I was waiting to know my fate in the other schools I had applied to. So, I resumed during the test week, which was a tough time for me. My test scores were not encouraging so I had to study hard for the examinations. I was apprehensive of what my result would look like, but when it came out, I had 5.00. I was amazed. I could not believe my eyes and I couldn’t sleep that night.
What were your memorable moments?
I had a lot of that. Apart from the amazing result I had in my first year, I also won an award of excellence in my second year and another one given to me by Success Congress in my fourth year. The biggest of them was during convocation, when I shook our chancellor, Dr. David Oyedepo, and my mum ran to the front to hug me. The joy in the atmosphere was just unexplainable. I also cherish my last moments with my friends. It was all fun.
What are your aspirations?
I aspire to be a researcher in my field. I enjoy working in the laboratory. Most of our research institutes are no longer functioning properly, but by God’s grace, I desire to revive research in our country. I also wish to create inventions that will be beneficial to my country.
In your view and from observation, why do students fail?
One major reason is some are not serious, and it starts from attendance in class to reading ahead of exams. Some don’t read until a day to exam when they would do all-night reading, expecting a miracle. Another reason is faulty foundation and poor orientation, which makes them think it is easier in the higher institution because of the freedom. Some students don’t like the course they are studying, whereas interest is the mother of success. Then, there is the issue of peer pressure, in which case some students meet with the wrong people and suddenly they change because of negative influence.
So, what is the way out for students?
It is important to have a goal; what they want to achieve at the end of the programme. That is very important. They should make use of the 3D’s of success: Determination, Dedication and Discipline. Students should know the reading style that works for them, speak positive things into their lives, choose friends wisely and depend on God.
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