With 6.4 out of 7.0 CGPA and 13 awards, Adunola Shoge emerged as the overall Best Graduating Student of the 2020/2021 session of the University of Ibadan (UI). In this interview, the Ogun State indigene tells ENIOLA OYEMOLADE her educational journey, how it was hard for her to learn at first and how she emerged as the best graduating student.
At what point did it dawn on you that you were going to graduate with a First Class and even the overall best student?
The first class did not just happen; I had badly wanted it and knew I must graduate with a First Class before I resumed at UI. I had always prayed concerning it and promised my dad that I was going to graduate with a First Class and get the best out of my course of study. On resuming at UI, with my mind fixed on that goal, all my actions and activities were directed towards that goal but I honestly did not know I would finally emerge as the overall best student. I only worked earnestly towards becoming the best graduating student of my department and faculty but God helped to get more than I bargained for.
What extra steps did you take to make sure you finished with a First Class?
While I was in school, I did not believe in free time because the zeal to succeed kept me on my toes at all times. I was always studying very hard at every single opportunity I got in the university. I read to the extent that reading became my hobby and I ensured to do it every day irrespective of how tired I got or how busy my day was. It became an antidote to my survival on campus. I made sure to read my notes not less than 10 times before examinations and invested most of energy into reading because my heart badly yearned for an outstanding result.
In the Valedictorian speech, you mentioned you had post UTME score of 50. Take us through your admission process from the moment you started the application, the moment you scored 50, till you gained admission.
During the application process, I honestly did not have any idea what the application process was like or what I wanted to study. Because of that, I submitted to the societal pressure to apply to study Pharmacy because my dad had a pharmacy degree and I chose the University of Ibadan because I wanted the best school. On choosing UI, people felt I was shooting beyond my reach because of my poor academic history in the early stage of my life but I had chosen it before people’s opinions, so I stuck to it! It became a do or die affair.
While preparing for the post UTME, I did not have a phone, neither did I have information as regards what to read nor did I have adequate time to prepare because I worked between two jobs from 7:00 a.m till 7:00 p.m because my parents had just lost their business to a major financial crisis and I felt the need to support myself in preparation for the university.
I got home very tired every day but I read the few textbooks I had during the weekend. On the post-UTME day, my uncle who paid for the examination took me there, and then I saw other post-UTME candidates studying avidly for the examination with study materials that I had never seen before. I almost felt defeated but I immediately encouraged myself and summoned the courage to put down what I had read irrespective of the pressure around me. Lo and behold; I had a post-UTME score of 50 which was the least cut-off mark to gain admission into UI.
I felt bad because I knew there was no chance of studying pharmacy and had very little chance of getting admission. However, I kept hope alive by applying for a change, of course, to study ‘Wildlife and Ecotourism Management’ because I loved and enjoyed tourism adventures since way back in primary school till secondary school and I got admission.
You also mentioned that for the first 10 years of your life, you were not able to assimilate anything, how were you and your parents able to manage the situation?
It was a challenging moment for my family. Schools and teachers felt incapacitated and defeated by my situation and my parents who did not get the best of education kept on trying their possible best to give me the best despite my situation. They stood up to the situation and believed in impossibilities. I felt very helpless and could not even make sense of the situation.
I always took the last position in class and heard the word, ‘dullard’ being said at me, and it almost stuck as my name. I was ready to learn but I was not just getting it. At a point, my parents who struggled to pay my fees and ensured I was in school even when my siblings were home because of school fees due to my situation could not afford the school anymore.
So they had to opt for a more affordable school which was West African Preparatory School (WAPSCO). I had to repeat four classes in the new school. I was in Basic four in my previous school but had to start all over again from Basic One in the new school. My parents were not happy but agreed since the decision was going to make me better. It was a big but life-changing decision for me. The teachers handled me with care and took their time to start from the very beginning.
I started all over with the alphabet and numbers at age 10. Within two weeks of being in the school, I had already mastered the alphabet and numbers. In fact, I could read a few words. I started emerging among the top five students in primary school and topped my classes from secondary school to the university level.
Did you have any challenges or distractions while in school?
I had financial challenges. It did not really bother me until I could not afford a set of textbooks and I had a B in the course. That was when I realised that the absence of finances could deter me from achieving my dream of getting an outstanding result. I had to support my parents in financing my academics pursuit by engaging in several businesses on campus.
I worked as a cosmetics retailer, housing agent, cleaning agent and sales representative. At one point, my CGPA dropped from a First Class degree to a second-class upper because I could not strike a balance between academics and business. It was a very painful experience but I could not stop the business. I really had to struggle to concede a balance. I later attained a first class in the 300 Level and worked tirelessly to maintain and boost my CGPA to 500 Level.
Did you receive any awards?
Yes, I received some awards. They are The Valedictorian for 2021 set, University of Ibadan, 2022; Best Graduating Student, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, 2022; Best Graduating Student, Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, 2022; University of Ibadan Vice Chancellor’s First Class Honours Recognition, 2022; Overall Best Final Year Student, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, UI, 2022; Overall Best Final Year Student, Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, UI, 2022; Dean’s Academic Excellence Award, Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources, UI, 2018, 2019; Overall Best Student in 400L, Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, UI, 2018, 2019; Most Intellectual Student (300 Level), Department of Wildlife and Ecotourism Management, UI, 2019; Meritorious Award of Academic Excellence and Outstanding Leadership, 2019; Meritorious Award of Service, Member of Renewable Natural Resources Students’ Society Association (RENRSA) Health Committee, 2019; Meritorious Award of Service, Member of Wildlife and Ecotourism Students’ Society (WESS) Electoral Committee, 2018, 2019; Meritorious Award of Service, Secretary of Wildlife and Ecotourism Students’ Society (WESS) Electoral Committee, 2020.