The Obafemi Awolowo University is a comprehensive public institution established in 1962 as The University of Ife. The University is situated on a vast expanse of land totaling 11,861 hectares in Ile-Ife, Osun State, southwest of Nigeria.
Last week, the PUNCH ran a story on how Dr. Shittu Oyindamola bagged 12 of the 18 prizes at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife 40th convocation. This week, SODIQ OYELEKE speaks to Ademola Oridate, who alongside Monday Omoetan, emerged the overall best graduating students in 2012/2013 session. Both obtained Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.88.
Who is Ademola Oridate?
I am a 22-year-old Mechanical Engineering graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (OAU). I am an indigene of Ogun State. I have eight half-siblings and a brother. I am the last child of the family. My dad is late.
Did that background have any effect on your studies?
Yes, my family background affected me positively. I am lucky to have come from a well-educated family. They have been 100 per cent supportive in the course of my academic career. They made sure I attended the best schools and gave me all the needed support morally and financially. In addition to that, all my siblings are graduates, so I had so many role models ahead of me.
Why did you study Mechanical Engineering?
While I was in secondary school, I found out that I had an unexplainable love for the principle of the operation behind mechanisms and machines. So, when it was time to fill my Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination form, I knew what I wanted. In addition to that, I knew one of my strong points was the ability to reason analytically, so I believed I was going to excel in any engineering field. My dad actually wanted me be a medical doctor but I made him realise that engineering was what I wanted. I strongly believe we will record more academic and career success stories if people make choices based on their areas of strength.
How did you find the course?
I found Mechanical Engineering quite interesting, thanks to my strength in logical/analytical thinking. Though there were challenging moments mostly due to the volume of materials we were required to study, it just meant devoting more time to my study.
What were the challenges you faced?
One major challenge was the volume of course works. Any engineering student can attest to that. Sometimes when you see the volume of what you have to read before the end of the semester, you start wondering if you can accomplish such a task even if you deny yourself sleep till the end of the semester. The incessant Academic Staff Union of Universities strikes even made matters worse. Some semesters had to be shortened, which made it more challenging. In addition to that, some engineering concepts require a great deal of time to comprehend.
How were you able to cope with the challenges?
Two things that helped me were adequate planning and time management. Discipline had to come into play for these two things to become a reality. I planned each day such that I knew what I was going to be doing at every point in time. With this, I was able to make every second count. However, I gave room for flexibility. I also cultivated the habit of consulting multiple texts in order to understand concepts better. This helped me to avoid mindless memorisation or “cramming”, as some people call it.
Was there any instance you regretted choosing OAU?
Not at all. OAU has influenced me in several ways. One thing I really cherish about the university, apart from its academic standing, is the opportunity to interact with great minds. I have no regrets. Though public universities in Nigeria have their shortcomings, I believe we can still make the best of them instead of complaining all the time. I believe where you study matters, but what you make out of it matters more.
What factors can you identify to be the cause of your success?
I associated with the right set of people. Your friends and the people you surround yourself with have a great influence on your life whether you admit it or not. They determine how far you can go in life. Iron sharpens iron.
What are the things you did that the majority of your colleagues failed to do?
I have stated some of the things I did but I cannot really say whether the majority of my colleagues did them or not.
How often do you read?
While in school, I used to read for an average of two hours on weekdays and about six to seven hours during the weekends. I understood the concept of short-term and long-term memory early enough. When you read a subject or concept repeatedly as opposed to reading it just once, you understand it better and it goes to your long-term memory over time. So, I read every day so that as a student, I could read each course as many times as possible.
Can you describe your social life while on campus?
Being social means different things to different people. Some people term “partying” as being social. I was not the partying type. Outside academics, I was involved in (Christian) fellowship activities. I related well with my classmates (outside class activities) as well as my fellowship “clique”. I did not attend any party.
What gives you the motivation to study hard?
Two things. First, the desire to achieve nothing short of what I know I have the capability to achieve. Second, the achievements of those ahead of me. Let me give an instance. While I was in secondary school, my immediate elder brother had the best WASSCE result in Ogun State in his set and received an award from the state government. That motivated me to work towards achieving the same result and I eventually emerged with the best WASSCE result in Ogun State in my set as well. Something similar happened while I was in the university. My brother emerged as the best student in his department, so I knew everyone was expecting more from me.
Who is your role model and how did he influence you?
One of my role models is Dr. Abayomi Jiboku, the proprietor of my secondary school – Taidob College. My success story is incomplete without him. The major influence he had on me is that he made me to appreciate the value of hard work. He always made us to understand the importance of integrity and the fact that there is no shortcut to success. The school pledge attests to that : “I pledge not to cheat in any examination, be it internal or external. So help me God.”
My advice to other students is first that they should identify their strengths. Second, they should realise that there is no shortcut to success. Third, they should remain focused at all times and shun distractions. Discipline is required to do this. They should understand that there is an appropriate time for everything and that rest is sweet after labour.