How I was able to keep my focus —UNILAG’s best graduating student
Daniel Chinaedum Ayodele Ogbechi emerged as the 2018/2019 best graduating student of the University of Lagos, with a CGPA of 4.9 (out of 5.0) from the Department of Business Administration. He spoke with Olasunkamni Oso about his academic sojourn and his life on campus.
Could you tell us a little about your background and growing up days?
I was born and brought up in Lagos State, but I’m from Delta State. I started my education at the University of Lagos Women Society. My secondary school was at the International School, University of Lagos (ISL). My WAEC result was great. Ironically, the only subject I didn’t have a distinction in was Commerce, which was, at that point, my favourite subject. I gained admission into the University of Lagos in 2014 into the Department of Business Administration. This was my first-choice course. If had had any alternative, it would have been Political Science—I had quite an interest in politics at that point in time.
Why Business Administration?
Business is a field I’m quite interested in. I feel, with great mastery in business, I would be able to offer value and better the world in my kind of way. There are a lot of engineers and scientists with valuable ideas that need business touch, one that better identifies and links the needs of the customers.
Your mother is an associate professor. Did she influence you to choose the course you studied? And, would you say she has an influence on your results?
My mum did not choose the course for me. It was a direction I had intended making right from junior secondary school. I’d been attending lectures with her right from birth and on holidays. That kind of sparked off my interest, I must say. Influence on results? None at all. It’s funny, because I hardly discussed school issues with her. We were really apart. I always handled things myself.
What was the experience like being the best graduating student?
Being announced the best graduating student felt really amazing. I was quite elated, and I still am. All these years of being hopeful finally paid off. This is just the start of a prosperous journey, I hope.
What was the reaction of your parents and siblings when they learnt you were the best graduating student?
They were happy. My mum and my dad announced it to their families and friends. My phone virtually exploded with congratulatory messages and calls. My siblings were also happy, too. They both couldn’t hide the fact that their big brother made it. There was so much joy in the household.
How did you feel giving the valedictory speech? And, what would you miss about UNILAG?
It felt great giving the speech. Though I misplaced the paper where I wrote my speech before going on stage, I spoke from the heart. I will miss a lot about school—the hostel life, friends, and all. I will also miss the overnights, group studies and a whole lot of stuff.
Did you know you could graduate with such a high CGPA?
Honestly, I didn’t expect this from the onset. But after a few semesters of meeting my goals, which was, at that point in time, a 5.0 GPA each semester, I knew I was on track. I had the belief that if I was able to meet this goal every semester, then my chances of graduating with first class would be better.
Many students set out planning to graduate with such a grade but end up not achieving it. What would you say worked for you?
Well, I would say I never stopped believing. I tried as much as possible not to put myself under undue pressure. I engaged in as many positive activities as I could, and made my routine and days count.
Many believe that students like you do not have social life. Did you have any?
On the contrary, I had a social life; I had friends. I was an active member of several organisations like Enactus UNILAG and University of Lagos Debating Society. I co-founded the Enpact Initiative. I was an athlete; I threw Shot Put and Discus for the school. I attended social gatherings, but had to achieve set goals first. I often opted out each time I hadn’t covered or accomplished my agenda.
Do you have role models?
My parents are my role models, and I have a plethora of other role models across several fields of interest: in business, Dangote; in sports, Ronaldo; leadership, the great Madiba; and a whole lot of friends who inspire me.
What was your relationship with your course mates and lecturers like?
I had great relationships with my course mates and lecturers, but not all. Lecturers take great interest in you when they sense you are genuinely interested and hungry for knowledge.
Has there been any time you felt like giving up on your dreams?
I never stopped believing. There were setbacks, but setbacks only give you clarity on what you need to do better.
How do you unwind?
I like good food. I love great movies (no seasonal movies with exception to ‘Game of Thrones’). As a sports man, I also enjoyed spending time at the sports complex playing basketball or taking some ‘throws’ or just pushing weights at the gym. I had a whole lot of highly intellectual friends whom I always loved to engage in intellectual arguments with.
What were your best and your worst times in school?
I have been presented several awards, but one stands out for me – winning the University of Lagos debate tournament in 2016 alongside Oluwabamise, popularly known as Bamo, of the Accounting class of 2017. We both, against all odds, won the university debate tournament, representing the Faculty of Management Sciences. This was the first time the faculty had ever won the prestigious tournament. Well, I hardly see moments like these as setbacks, but I must say one of the most disappointing was having my first B in an Accounting course.
White-collar jobs are usually the end game of most best-graduating students. Should we expect same from you?
I understand this trend, but at this stage, I embrace learning and a white-collar job. They will not only be an avenue to learn and create value to my employers and the society. A white-collar job, however, is not the ultimate end. I hope to lecture and inspire minds. I wish to set up businesses that will solve societal problems and provide utility.