A career woman must shun time wasters —Prof Temitope Oyedepo
Temitope Oyedepo, a professor of Biochemistry, is the Director of Academic Planning of Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, she talks about her career, her passion for moulding youths, among other things.
My parents were teachers. Right from a tender age, my parents instilled in us the importance of education. We were surrounded by books so, that kind of, shaped my life in a way, I still cannot do without having a book with me that I am reading. We were also brought up in a strict Christian background. I, more or less grew up in a kind of triangle, church, school and home with little time for socialising. It was when I got to my A levels at Federal Government Girls College (FGGC), Oyo, Oyo State, that I was able to get some sort of social life.
Choice of career
I wanted to study Medicine but when I sat for the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination, I didn’t score the cut off for the course at the University of Ibadan which was my first choice but the cut off for Medicine at the University of Ilorin was lower than that of UI. I changed to UNIILORIN but because it was not my first choice, I was given Biochemistry instead of Medicine and the head of the department promised me that if I did well, I would be allowed to change to Medicine in 200 levels so I worked hard and got good grades in my 100 level and applied to change my course The HOD wanted to release me but the dean of the faculty refused to sign me out. I felt bad but encouraged myself that when I was through with Biochemistry,I would go back to Medicine but as I was studying Biochemistry, I started developing interest in the course and decided to go for my post-graduate and also reach the peak of my career in Biochemistry.
So, from my undergraduate days, I made up my mind to go into academics. I worked at Baptist School of Nursing, Emmanuel Alayande College of Education, Oyo,Oyo State, SALEM University, Lokoja then moved to Adeleke University, Ede. I worked part- time with Ekiti State University for many years. I have no regret going into academics because I have passion for moulding youths. I see this as an opportunity to follow that passion.
Some students that probably had lost hope, thinking that they could not make it, through the grace of God, I was able to counsel them and they were able to discover themselves. I discovered that many students who come to the university are not sure of who they are and what they want. So many are reading courses that their parents want them to read or which their friends are reading. When they are studying a course that they are not cut out for, they start struggling. I was able to reach out to such students and help them to discover who they are and the courses that are suitable for them and today, they are doing well. There was a particular student that was sent away for poor grades in Biochemistry, I interacted with her and discovered she would do well in art or social based courses so we moved her to Information Science and she graduated with a first class. That gives me a lot of joy.
For some students, all they need to do well is to discover their reading pattern; the best time they can read and assimilate what they are reading;maybe during the day or at night when everywhere is quiet.
My duties as Director of Academic Planning
The Director of Academic Planning (DAP) is someone that plans the calendar of activities for the university. I am a kind of a laison officer between the university and the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC). So, I am like a representative of the NUC on campus. My duty is to understudy the minimum bench mark of the NUC and interpret it for my university such that we are able to meet up with that bench mark. Also, if the NUC has a change of policy on any issue, it will be communicated to me and it is my duty to interprete and implement it. It is a challenging job because sometimes the NUC wants one thing and the council of the university another. So, one must be able to strike a balance so the university does not run foul of the NUC and also make it easy for the university council to be able to align with the policy. The director of academic planning ensures quality planning in line with the minimum academic background of the NUC. Besides being the DAP, I still teach both undergraduate and post graduate students.
Combining home front with career
I give glory to God for the grace and I also want to appreciate my husband for his understanding and support. In fact, he is my number one supporter because it is not easy for a woman to combine academics with the home front. When I was doing my Ph.D and I was pregnant and raising the children, he gave me support. My mother too has been a strong pillar of support. When I had to be away from home, I kept the children with her. By and large, I think the most important thing is for a woman to set her priority right. When you have a dream you are trying to pursue, you need to have a scale of preference. There are some things that you just have to lay aside. Knowing full well that I was doing my post graduates, having babies and had to be a wife to my husband, I had to limit my social activities.
Those are some of the prices that one had to pay. I also did not have time for frivolities like sitting down in front of the television for hours. And if you see me on the internet, know that I am working on my research. But today, I see that many people want to have their cake and eat it. They want to belong and at the same time they want to pursue their dreams. Nobody has more than 24 hours in a day so you have to plan your time. Things that are not important, put them down for now, there will be time for that later. The key thing for a woman is to shun time wasters. A career woman must shun time wasters. Time wasters are social media, television and social gatherings. We need to be able to manage our time well. That is when we can be able to combine career with the home front. I want to also emphasise that for a woman the home comes first. I am not saying we should neglect our careers but the home comes first. The Bible says a wise woman builds her home, not a wise man. That means the woman is crucial to the building of the home and this is why you have to make that your number one priority. When I have to travel for conferences, I make all the necessary arrangements, cook some food and put them in the freezer so that my husband and children won’t suffer when I am away. I thank God that my children are now grownups and can take care of themselves. Women should have short and long-term plans and also time to rest so that they don’t break down.
Assessment of Nigerian women
We are facing a lot of challenges. The first that we are gradually overcoming is that some fathers don’t want to give their daughters more than basic education. Some of them don’t want to pay for their daughters’ second degree. The second one is the challenge of combining the home front with their careers, especially if the men are not lending helping hands. I want to plead with our men to help their wives. There is nothing stopping the man from helping his wife in domestic chores.
How to raise godly children
Parents should be friends to their children. Don’t use force on them. We live in a global world today and as a result, our children are too exposed to what is happening in the world. If you want to use force they will rebel and become hardened. If you are friendly and firm with them, they will know what is acceptable to you and what is not. State your rules, let them know the consequence of them breaking the rule and when they break the rule, apply the punishment. Also, introducing God to your children should not be by force, encourage them to love God. Let it be a gradual process. Also, be their number one fan, Celebrate their achievements no matter how little and when they make mistake correct them with love. Study and understand your children as individuals and help them to discover themselves. Get to know their friends. Their friends should be welcome into your house so you will know who your children are associating with.
Advice for young people
Be focused. Have a vision that you will break down into achievable objectives. I discovered that many young people are just moving on in life without any vision for their lives. A young man or woman should have a purpose, that he is living for. The second thing is that they should learn the habit of delayed gratification. They want to have the benefit of social life at the expense of their academics and that is why today, academic excellence is getting eroded in our society. They also want to cut corners by cheating and so on. When you are in school, study and when on holiday they can relax. People who are successful today were people who pursued their visions and delayed gratification.