Bejide Ifeoluwa is our EduCeleb of the Week. She was the 2016/2017 best graduating student at the Redeemer’s University, Ede, as announced at the 9th convocation ceremony of the institution held last week. This Microbiology graduate raised by a single mum, in this interview with ABDUSSALAM AMOO, bares her mind on the road to success.
Tell us a little about your background.
I grew up in a family of four. This includes me, my sister, my mum and my dad. I had my primary education at ECWA Nursery and Primary School, Akure. My secondary school education was at Fiwasaye Girls Grammar School, Akure and Redeemer’s High School, Redemption Camp, Ogun State before attending Redeemer’s University, Ede, for my university education.
In what ways did your background have any influence on your academic success?
Yes, my background made me a better person. I get my goals right. I know what I wanted. My mum is a single mother who had to pay for the fees herself. So, obviously, I had to make her proud. That was like the major difference it made.
In your speech (during the convocation ceremony), you spoke of being a pepper seller. Can you tell us more about that?
That was in the concluding remarks of my speech. I was like “I, the girl who sold pepper, tomatoes and salt, have now become a graduate.” My mum lost her job at some point. That was when I was selling pepper and other petty things. It wasn’t like I was hawking around as some reports had suggested.
What were the challenges you faced in the journey towards this successful sojourn?
There were particularly emotional and financial challenges. The financial challenge is with respect to the fact that Redeemer’s University is a private institution. Getting to pay the school fees comes with its own challenge. The emotional challenge comes in obviously if there is no money to pay bills and you start thinking about your needs. This would naturally make one become emotionally disturbed.
How did you cope with sustaining yourself financially coupled with maintaining good academic standing while on campus?
One couldn’t have done other jobs on campus except one was an entrepreneur. It is practically impossible to have a full time job and keep up with the challenges of studentship. There was a time I had to sell recharge card in the hostel just to make ends meet.
How do you manage your time?
I set my priorities right. I try to determine when I want to do something. Even if I am going to procrastinate, I set a time to accomplish a task and ensure I keep up with that. This does not affect things I have already planned. I try to squeeze in my time again to make up for the lost time.
What about handling distractions and advances from the opposite sex, as a lady?
(Smiles). In school, I try to present myself in all decency as is required while facing my studies. Regarding the opposite sex distracting me, it was obviously clear to them that I wasn’t interested in them. Even if I play with them, they knew already that I wasn’t interested. So, there wasn’t that much of a distraction.
How did you feel when you learnt that you are the best among the best?
(Smiles) I was very happy. I don’t even know the word to express my state then. I was over-joyous, and grateful to God that I made my mother proud as a reference point for whoever would describe in school. In summary, I was excited.
From your experience so far, would you say that academics is really worth it?
Of course, it is worth it. Even if you are not going to work with your certificate later in life, even you are going to go into business, there is a way people tend to respect people with certificate. Fine, you may be a tailor. But ‘oh, she’s a tailor with a B Sc’ could rank one in a higher class. Even if you are not going into anything academic, you wouldn’t be at loss when there is need to make reference to formal education. It is a good thing to go into the academics. So, I don’t regret anything academic at all. It is a good thing to go to school.
Who are your roles models?
I don’t have role models. I just have people I look up to, not like role models. Saying role models is being over exaggerated in the current generation. So, I don’t like to use the word role model. I look up to Daddy G.O. (Pastor E.A. Adeboye) and every other person who struggled the right way to make it.
Considering the dichotomy between public and private institutions of learning, would you say that you attending a private institution had any influence on your academic success?
Well, even if I had gone to a public institution, it is the same goal I set here I am still going to set. This is because I am supposed to be diligent. So, if I were in a public university, I would still have wanted to be the best graduating student. But since I eventually went to a private institution, I have to be at my best. This is coupled with the fact that our university has a better and more conducive environment for learning. That obviously influenced my academic success. For instance, we have constant electricity and free wifi to use to access internet individually and check for our assignments and things like that. So, this kind of assisted us in a way.
Any future plans?
I don’t really like publicly discussing my future plans. Everything is in the hands of God.
Editor’s Note: The above is another edition of the “EduCeleb of the Week” project. Would you like be featured in one of the subsequent editions? Could you nominate someone worthy of being featured here? Click here to read the criteria and fill the nomination form. You may also send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.