Acada Genuis: Meet Covenant Uni First Class Graduate (see his CGPA)


 Oredola Opeyemi, 26, made first class in Mass Communication at Covenant University, with 4.61 CGPA in the 2015/2016 academic session.
In this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, Opeyemi, who is a sickle cell carrier, talks about the hurdles he passed through to achieve the feat

It’s about a year since you graduated, what have you been doing?

After graduation, I worked with Covenant University radio, Hebron FM, for some time before I commenced my National Youth service Corps programme. Presently, I’m working in a telecommunication company where I was posted for my primary assignment.

Was it all about your academics while in school or you had other engagements?

I was involved in other school activities. I served as the course representative from my first year to final year. I also joined the Classical Choir in the second week of my resumption as a fresher. I was actively involved in Hebron FM from my second year, where I served as a broadcaster, news caster (Yoruba), and acting Head of Programmes. In my final year, I joined the Student Council where I served as the Head of Residency as well as a hall representative.

You seem to enjoy broadcasting so much. What fuelled that interest?

I would trace it back to when I was young. I remember I used to read the news during children anniversary in church. I think it all started from there. When it was time to choose a course, it was my ready choice. I have passion for broadcasting and I enjoy every aspect of it, because it offers me the opportunity to do what I know how to do best; news casting and presenting. Apart from these, I also love going for field work. I have always envisaged being a war/investigative journalist. Hence, I like to be on the field providing first hand information for the audience. Even when Landmark University offered me Business Administration, I declined the admission and opted for Mass Communication in CU. When you have passion for something, what people say about it that could discourage you would not suffice. And that helped a lot.

Given your deep interest in it, was it very easy to have first class?

Having a first class wasn’t that easy, it required dedication, lots of sacrifice and commitment. It was my aspiration to make first class, which I felt would be a great reward to my mum for her tireless efforts. I prayed, planned and worked hard for it, and God watered my efforts.

How many of you had first class in your department?

About five of us, but I was the only male and the first male student to have first class in the department. Having first class wasn’t by providence. I had the determination to make a first class. Beyond the determination, I was dedicated to my studies, my assignments and projects. Also, I never allowed any negative influence or anything else to derail me from the track and the goal I had set for myself. I started having first class from my 100-level first semester, and at the end of that session, my CGPA was 4.65.

How would you have received it if you didn’t make first class?

I would have been disappointed in myself but I would have taken it in good faith. I’m happy I made it though. It was a great moment for my mum. She felt fulfilled and was very happy.

Was your performance a continuation of what you had in your previous schools?

Yes, I have always had excellent results. My performance in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination was good but I had difficulty with my Literature in English due to lack of a literature teacher in my secondary school days. It took me few years to have credit in Literature. I took UTME for about four years. I never failed it, but I had difficulties with University of Lagos’s post-UTME. I was so keen on schooling in University of Lagos that I never tried out any other option for about four years until my mum changed my orientation and asked me to try out a private institution. But I made sure I made good use of those four years I spent at home. I engaged in skill acquisition, computer training and I acquired some working experience in a primary school.

Why were you keen on going to UNILAG?

I wanted UNILAG because my brother was there and then being an institution in Lagos, I felt it would be closer to my house because of my health. But it didn’t work out. I missed being there in my first year. It was more so because it wasn’t easy adapting to the environment and other things, such as dress pattern and other religious activities at CU. But after some time, I started enjoying the experience.

What was the reading style that worked for you?

I didn’t have a fixed number of hours for reading every day because I had other things to attend to. In fact, my typical day was usually hectic. But on the average, I read for four hours every day and I preferred to study at midnight alone. However, sleep in Covenant University was not by choice, it was by availability. Hence, you do not sleep when you want to; you only do when you have the chance to. I barely used the library, as I preferred reading in my room or in the departmental newsroom. And during holidays, I got engaged in self-development activities like acquiring some computer skills, screen printing and some communication skills. I love to be excellent in everything I do, and I have always been determined and self-driven to achieve that, so I didn’t need anybody to coerce me into being hardworking.

Did you enjoy any award or scholarship as an undergraduate?

Yes, I received several awards while in school and I enjoyed ADDAX scholarship throughout my stay in the university.

For the benefit of those in school, how did you win the scholarship?

I applied for it in the first semester of my second year and then I took the exam. When the list of successful candidates was out, I was successful. It was N100,000 per session, and they even paid us in arrears for the preceding session; our first year.

What was the most extreme thing (or sacrifice) you did for your academics?

The extreme sacrifice I made for my academics was when I discharged myself from the school’s Health Centre straight to the exam room to take my final year first semester examination.

Why would you do that?

I didn’t want to do make-up exam. My coursemates and lecturers were against it. They said I should have applied for make-up exam instead of discharging myself, but I didn’t want to do any make-up exam, and I hadn’t written any make-up exam before then, so I took the risk.

What were you being treated for?

I’m a sickle cell warrior, so it was one of those times I wasn’t feeling fine.

Do you recall some of the times you had health challenge because of that?

I don’t usually have crisis, but anytime I do, it could last for one week or more, and I would be in the hospital because it isn’t something I could manage on my own. If it was something the health centre couldn’t handle, they would call my parents. There were times I wanted to stay back for Shiloh and I ended up having crisis. It happened twice. In 2015, around the Shiloh period, I fell ill and was in the hospital when we crossed into 2016. Meanwhile, I want to demystify the stigmatisation of sickle cell carriers and erase the notion that anyone living with such disorder can achieve little or no success due to frequent crisis. Also, the understanding of my lecturers, who are committed to raising future leaders, cannot be overemphasised. They were helpful.

There are many first class graduates in Nigeria who have remained unemployed. Are you sometimes troubled with the rate of unemployment in Nigeria?

Sometimes would be an understatement, always will be preferable. Let’s hope the dreams of persons like me become a reality whereby we will be able to provide jobs for qualified average Nigerians.

What was your happiest moment in school?

My happiest moment in school was when my course mates gave me an award for having served them in various aspects for four years.

Do you have mentor(s)?

I believe in having mentors but I never really had one until my third year when I met Professor Cecil Blake. He worked at the Department of Communication at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, United States and he once served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting and Chief Government Spokesman in Sierra Leone. He came to CU on sabbatical and he influenced my performance in various ways. I’m glad to have met him.

Where would you like to work?

I would like to work in an Afrocentric media organisation and gain experience in global communication systems so as to acquire adequate knowledge and become an expert in investigative and war journalism. I aspire to establish a media outlet in Nigeria capable of being competitive with the likes of BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, etc. Also, I like to establish a sickle cell centre where underprivileged persons living with the disorder could be helped.

What are the basic things students should do to be excellent?

Achieving success and excellent result only comes with dedication and commitment to purpose. Students should ensure they stay focused on their academics while in school and shun any form of distraction.

Source: Punch

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