With 4.90 CGPA, Miracle Olawale Olatunde recently emerged as the Overall Best Graduating Student from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) convocation with six combined sets. The 25-year-old from Osun State tells ENIOLA OYEMOLADE about her love for Pure and Applied Chemistry, her hopes, and her aspirations.
What exactly is Pure and Applied Chemistry about?
Pure and Applied Chemistry is all about the study of matter; matter is anything that has weight and occupies space. It is the study of everything we see and don’t even see. I like Chemistry because it is all-encompassing. It explains why the sky is blue, why water is the way it is, it explains everything. It goes down to the foundation and answers all our questions.
What do you find most interesting about the course?
It is the fact that it is everywhere; in the food industry, pharmaceutical industry, and energy industry, it is applicable in the textile industry, it is everywhere. So, you cannot study chemistry and say you are redundant. I like that it answers questions down to the bedrock from the atomic level; it explains questions beyond reasonable doubts.
What motivated you to be excellent in your academics?
It’s not just about my academics, it is about everything I do. I believe in doing things properly. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. That is why I try to extend that even to my business. I try to give everything my full percentage and I needed to make my mum proud; I needed to make her know that all her efforts were not in vain. I didn’t want her to have any regrets about having to keep my pregnancy because I know people who didn’t end up well even with all the sacrifices their parents made. This is why I try to give everything I do my best because what is the point of doing something if you won’t do it well? You never know who is watching or what is going to happen. So, do it well or don’t do it at all. My favourite quote from Maya Angelou is: “My mission in life is to thrive and not merely to survive and I am going to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.” That is one of my ideologies in life. Thrive.
You made a post on LinkedIn about how your father wanted you aborted. Describe the emotions you felt when your mum told you about this.
When I was younger and I realised that was the back story behind my birth, of course, anybody would feel discouraged. I was not happy. It made me question myself at a point and I was angry that I could have both parents but I can’t. I was angry and sad and I used to be really bitter as a teenager because I felt my life could have gone so much easier and I wouldn’t have to “suffer” if I had my dad present. But growing up and being wiser, I’m grateful because I was able to channel all of that anger and pain into becoming better. If all of that driving force weren’t there, I don’t think I would give my best to things. It made growing up harder but now I’m thankful to God that things happen the way they did because sometimes, it is at the end of a struggle we look back and see why we had to struggle in the first place and we thank God for it. It was a motivation for me; it was a driving force for me to prove myself and to prove that I can be something and that my background does not have to define me.
You met with the governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, during your convocation. How did this make you feel?
I was so happy. Who would have thought a girl like me would meet the governor? A series of events had to happen before I met the governor. I didn’t actually meet him during my convocation, I met him during the Master’s and Ph.D. convocation. I thank God for some amazing people that He used for me who said the best graduating student needs to be recognised and see the governor and they made it happen for me to meet him. Taking a picture with him was the highlight for me. I was so happy. I had to force my way through the crowd to meet him, but looking at the picture now made it all worth it and I think I am going to frame the picture. It was a proud moment for me and it will forever be in my heart.
Would you say you got the recognition you deserve?
No, I didn’t get the recognition I deserved. As I said, a series of events happened before I could meet the governor. Thank God for the people God used. So, this places the question in my mind that if these people were not there or did not advocate for me, I wouldn’t have met him. Also, we have a very long way to go in this country because we don’t recognise or appreciate value; we don’t give people their flowers and it is really sad because a lot of people keep messaging me that if I was in another country, I would probably have a job by now. As I am speaking to you, nobody has called me from my school even to say the least we can do is give you a job. I haven’t gotten any of that or even received a letter to that effect. Thank God for the social media and the tweet I made that went viral. As a result, a lot of blogs and news channels reported it and it blew up. It got me thinking that everything that happened, me meeting the governor and all would not have happened. We have a long way to go in this country because if we do not appreciate people, how are people who are coming up going to be encouraged? The younger generation will feel it is a waste of time because they will see that at the end of the day, no one is going to appreciate what they did. I’m grateful to God for everything I got and everything that He made happen, but the system did not reward me for my labour, the system did not appreciate it and it is really sad. Nigeria needs to do better. If as the overall best graduating student, I still have to dust my CV and start looking for job from one place to another, what is the hope of the country? I have to start looking for a job right now and that is too sad.
Was it strictly academics for you or you also had time to socialise?
It wasn’t just academics for me because I am a firm believer in a balanced life. I was involved in church activities and I had a social life, maybe not at the early part, but at the middle and the ending part, yes. I also ran a fashion designing business; I sew and sell ready-to-wear female wear majorly online. At this point, it is my business I am using to survive because if I had made only academics the centre of my life, then I wouldn’t have anything right now.
Were there times you almost gave up on graduating with a first-class degree?
No. I never thought about it. That was my only option. I had nothing and nobody else, so giving up was not an option.
With Pure and Applied Chemistry, what type of job do you plan on delving into?
I’m looking to further my education, and go for graduate studies. I want to specialise in medicinal chemistry, and drug design particularly. I want to go into pharmaceuticals, design new drugs, synthesize new drugs in the laboratory, be at the forefront of research and I want to be able to do research on drugs and cancer research.
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