I was determined not to fall short of my best —FUTA’s best graduating student

Adesile Lawal of the Department of Physiology, School of Health and Health Technology, Federal University of Technology, Akure, emerged the best graduating student for the 2018/2019 academic session with a cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.92. He shares with Laolu Harolds his experiences, challenges and how he attained such a remarkable feat.

You graduated top of your set in the 2018/2019 academic session. Did you deliberately set out to achieve this?
When I got admission, I did not plan to be the best graduating student at all, but I decided I was going to get the best out of everything I laid my hands on. I was always motivated by the fact that only the best grades were good enough for me. While I did not plan to graduate top of my class, I was determined not to fall short of my best efforts at my academics. I sat for my UTME just once, so I did not have any personal pressure to compete with people or to outdo them but just to graduate with good enough grades that will enable me succeed at anything I want to venture into later in life


What life skills did you acquire at in the university?
One life skill I acquired is leadership skill. One of my friends motivated me. His name is Michael Adenawola. He was more of a politician than I, as he taught me the art of leading people and getting the best from them. He was the reason behind my getting involved in being the electoral chairman of my department. I also benefited immensely from the entrepreneurship course we offered at 300 Level ENT 302. I was in the inverter construction group. I enjoyed and I learnt a lot from it. My department organised a lot of seminars and workshops. We had scholars from Europe coming to train us in various aspects of our course work. We had hands-on training and that made passing the courses easy for many of us.

What were the challenges you encountered as a student of FUTA and how were you able to overcome them?
My greatest challenge was locating lecture theatres in my first year. It was quite an uphill task for me to attend lectures and I had to navigate a lot to get to where I was going. I also had problems getting hostel accommodation, so I had to live off-campus. Overnight classes were also challenging for me because I always had to come back to the campus in the evening to read because there was no power. I feel the universities should provide maps for first year students during their orientation programme for ease of movement on campus. Also, there can be arrangement for private-public partnership to enable more hostels to be built on campus for students, because FUTA is expanding every academic year. Life off-campus is not very easy. A student without focus can be easily influenced by so many negative factors and the lack of control can endanger their lives too. The university will also be able to account for its students if more of them can be accommodated on campus.


What other factors contributed to your success?
My faith in God was a huge factor. And there were lectures put together by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN). These lectures were of spiritual benefit to me; so any time I faced any challenges, I drew strength from all that my spiritual leaders taught me. We were taught how to combine academics and religion. I also had mentors like Dr Ben Carson, the American neurosurgeon. I was inspired by his life and work. I also had peers who motivated me whenever I was demoralised.

What type of activities were you involved in when you were on campus?
I did not have much of a serious social life, but I was involved in partisan politics as an electoral chairman of my department, but I did not vie for any position. I was also part of the executive of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria. I really do not like to be passive anywhere I find myself; I like to contribute my own quota and be involved in the progress and development of that place. Much as I didn’t involve myself in too many activities, I decided to make an impact in my own little way by my inputs in the department and in my religious organisation. And I don’t want to do anything that will affect my academics too.


What challenges in the Nigerian education system do you think are responsible for churning out less than average graduates?
The greatest challenge, I think, is that the system grades every student based on the same overall academic criteria. Students have different areas of core strengths and so should be appraised by that. Also, the counselling unit of every university should be empowered with the mandate to reach out to as many students as possible. Some students are more likely to excel if they are encouraged and motivated. Students come from different backgrounds and some are already coming into the institution with a very low morale, but a little re-orientation is just what they might need to enable them excel academically and otherwise. Like for me, when some of my mentees and peers discovered my abilities, they moved closer to me and I was able to help them discover their potential and they began to make better grades. I have learnt that everyone has the capacity to excel, but they must be given the required push. I also think that every department should have a dedicated counselling unit so that every student going through a crisis can have easy access too.


What are your future plans?
I intend to further my education, do a lot of research and contribute my own quota to national development and make my alma mater proud.

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