Mrs. Olajumoke Akere holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics, a Master of Science in Educational Management, and a Master in Social Work (M.Sw). She is a Doctoral Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Human Resources Management. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Consultants, and a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Managers. Her experience spans many secondary schools and sixth-form colleges even before she started JSAY Pre-varsity. She is a consultant to many secondary schools, sixth-form colleges, and Enterprises. She has served and is currently serving as a mentor to many individuals. She is a certified Educator, Member of the Nigerian Association of Social Work, and the American Association of School Social Work. Also, she is the Immediate Past President of the Zonta Club 1 of Ibadan, an International NGO made up of professional women to advance girls and women. She spoke to Demola Akinbola on a wide range of issues. Excerpts …
Who is Olajumoke Akere? Which words best describe you?
Olajumoke Akere is a Nigerian with enviable Christian and charitable qualities that have been imparted to many Nigerian youths through Education and Social Services. Her passion for success and excellence has spurred her in her pursuit to serve the nation and the world by providing qualitative education to groom young people for a successful life. Olajumoke is the founder of the multi-award winning sixth form college (post-secondary school) in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, JSAY Pre-varsity.
Her flair and desire to see youths realize their full potential led her to establish a non-governmental organization, Cherith Point Education and Youth Development Initiative. The NGO has recorded successful feats in many of her programs for young people, focused on propelling peak performance and the numerous awards won by her give attestations. Olajumoke currently gives scholarships annually to deserving and indigent students of secondary schools to attend her Advanced Level School, JSAY Prevarsity. She organizes a yearly reasoning contest tagged, Think Quest Competition. Also, she organizes an annual parenting summit which has been consecutively held for six years. She holds an annual youth leadership conference and currently runs an annual Entrepreneurship program tagged Own Your Own which is an avenue to encourage young people to start their businesses and also equip them with the skills needed to succeed.
She is the Editor of Edge Magazine, a publication borne out of a passion to help the next generation of achievers and offer them the tools they need to be successful. She is the author of the book The Gold in You. She speaks passionately at various conferences on the education of the future generation. So, I will describe myself as a dynamic, purpose-driven, and visionary leader. I am passionate about helping young people to realize their full potential. I am also a woman of integrity and a lover of God.
Tell us about your birth, childhood, and early life
I was born in Ibadan, and I grew up in a loving family. I was brought up along with my siblings in a warm and loving environment. I completed my secondary education at St. Louis Grammar School, Mokola, Ibadan. Then, I proceeded to the University to study Economics. After my University education, I went to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to serve the nation. It was during my service year that I discovered my purpose and immediately immersed myself in my passion, imparting the lives of young people which is what I have spent most of my life doing.
Tell us about your unforgettable moments
I have a lot of unforgettable moments, but the one that I would love to talk about is the year I did my NYSC. I was posted to Borno State, and it was quite fearful for me and my parents. I wanted to explore and have new experiences, meeting people from different ethnic backgrounds. I found it interesting and memorable. Although it was filled with ups and downs, it was also a time I can never forget, because that was where I met my husband.
What has your career trajectory been like?
My experience spans many secondary schools and sixth-form colleges even before I started JSAY Prevarsity. I am a consultant to many secondary schools, sixth-form colleges, and enterprises. I studied Economics as my first degree and immediately after, I decided I wanted to be an Educator; I wanted to run a School. I was sure of that so, I started working in schools. I went to study Educational Management at the Master’s level. I also realized that I love charitable work, so I did another Masters in Social Work. I am the CEO of Cherith point Education and Youth Development Initiative, a non-governmental organization that empowers hundreds of youth through mentoring, provision of educational opportunities, and training to fulfill their potential.
I have also been exposed recently to the world of technology and so, I am a specialist in project management, product management, risk management, cybersecurity, and audit. I’ve been able to help a lot of start-ups and I’m consulting for organizations both national and international, helping them to facilitate distance learning, online, and STEM Education for African youth.
What are the highlights of your career milestones?
I discovered myself early and decided I wanted to be an educator. I worked as an Administrator of two sixth-form schools after my youth service. After that, I went for my Master’s in Educational Management and when I was done, I was appointed coordinator of another sixth-form school after which I started JSAY Prevarsity. Our vision is to groom young people for success and global relevance. My desire to work in sixth-form schools was born out of my experience in 100 Level. I realized that secondary school students need to have exposure to a structured environment to prepare them for university education. My focus has been to help young people manage their transition from secondary school to University, and it has been a great one.
JSAY prevarsity has been consecutively awarded top grades in Nigeria. Our students are all over the world doing very well. We have secured scholarships for many of them, and we are proud of them. As I said, I run charitable organizations, and I am on the board of many educational institutions, as well as international educational organizations.
What led to the establishment of JSAY Prevarsity? When was it established?
We didn’t start as a prevarsity. The institution took off as a College of Arts and Sciences because what was obtainable then was the Higher School Certificate Examination (HSC), College of Arts and Sciences, etc. But after two years, we found out that people did not understand the motive behind our vision. So, I came up with the idea of a pre-university, and the school was renamed JSAY College of Arts and Sciences (A school for pre-university studies). A year after this, we noticed that people still did not have a clear picture of the purpose of the institution so, I eventually adopted pre-university as the name of the institution which was later shortened to prevarsity.
Over time, parents have come to terms with the fact that the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) does not guarantee admission into the university, and here lies the importance of other options such as A’ levels and so on. When we started, we employed teachers and then trained them to fit our set standards to achieve our vision. We retrain our teachers periodically so they can understand and work in line with our purpose and vision for the school.
What are the plans and programs of JSAY Prevarsity?
We are doing a lot to expand our territory. We just opened a branch at Abeokuta and we’re opening more branches. We have also launched our online school and we pray that eventually, we’ll be able to transform it into a university.
What are the achievements of the institution?
JSAY Prevarsity has imparted a lot of young people. The name is synonymous with excellence. Our students have attained outstanding grades in all our courses, and many of our partnerships with other schools, international organizations, and international institutions. We have always been awarded top in the country in all the services we provide. We have attained top in transforming our students and, most importantly, they have been able to achieve their personal and academic goals. Many of our students are all over the world, doing well in their professions and chosen careers.
What has life taught you?
One thing that life has taught me is that we must evolve and be ready to make changes. Change is the natural order of our world and the recent global pandemic has reinforced that order. Covid -19 has changed the way things are done in the world. The truth is that if you don’t learn to make changes and adjust, you become irrelevant. So, change is a must and if you don’t want to face stagnancy, then you must force yourself to grow consistently. Leave your comfort zone and be ready to make necessary changes for advancement.
What does success look like and what does it mean to you?
I believe success is achieving your goals and celebrating your success no matter how little. So, when you set goals and you achieve them, then that’s a success.
What are your success principles?
My success principles are focus, discipline, and determination. You must be focused. I think one of the things affecting a lot of people is broken focus. You must prioritize. Know what you want to achieve, focus on it, get it done, and then move on to the next thing. Many people want to achieve a lot of things at the same time. When you prioritize and use all your resources in achieving a goal, and move on to the next one, you’ll achieve a lot, and over time you will realize that you have achieved so much. I believe focus, determination, and discipline are everything.
Looking back, would you say that you are fulfilled?
Based on my definition of success, I can say that I am fulfilled while I look forward to achieving greater heights. I have achieved many of the goals I set, and that gives me fulfillment. I give all the glory to God for the grace. I see what I do as a calling, and most of the projects and activities we executed in organizations imparted a lot of young people.
What advice do you have for the youth?
My advice to young people is to be committed to self-discovery. They must believe that they can achieve whatever they set their hearts to do. They must also be ready to face challenges because a lot of our young people these days want to take the short cut which doesn’t lead anywhere. You must know that when something is easy to get it may not be durable. They must face and overcome challenges instead of running away from them. They must acquire skills that are relevant in the 21st-century workplace. With determination, discipline, and hard work they can achieve their dreams.
Tell us about your involvement in other projects and activities within and outside Nigeria
I am involved in a lot of projects both in Nigeria and abroad. I am the immediate past president of the Zonta Club of Ibadan, which is an International organization that is made up of professional women to advance the status of girls and women. I am also the capacity and program coordinator of the National Council of Women Society, South-West. I am the International Professional and Program Development Director of African Professionals of Australia, Gotocourse, Texas, and others. I am on the board of many educational institutions and secondary schools. I am also a consultant to many organizations. Our projects in Education and Information Technology are designed to enable young people to realize their full potential, and we have many success stories.
Tell us about your family. How are you able to achieve the work/life balance?
I am married to the love of my life, Prof. Adegboyega Akere, and our union is blessed with lovely children. I ensure work/life balance by prioritizing the time I spend with my family from time to time. At work, I delegate tasks and I ensure I employ the right people that can take up responsibilities and do them well.
How do you relax and unwind?
I love listening to music, reading literature, and inspirational books. I also love travelling and being in the midst of friends and family.