Leaving a well-paying job in Lagos to come and study a course I never thought existed on the syllabus was hard. It wasn’t just about leaving the money but the fact that I would spend four years of my life doing what I never wanted. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad I had thought and I have no regret coming here. The past four years have been experiential for me and some of the things I have learned in those four years is what this piece is all about.
Coming to University of Ibadan
If anyone had told me nine years ago when I was graduating from high school that I would be graduating from the University of Ibadan in 2020, I would have rejected such thought. Growing up, everyone around me had high opinions of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) and I wanted to go there too, to see all the greatness for myself. When I wrote my first Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in 2013, OAU was my only option and Law was the chosen course. Unfortunately, I was not offered admission to the school. I tried again in 2014 and I scored 300 out of 400 in the Post-UTME. I had thought nothing would come between me and admission into OAU to study Law when I saw the result. However, the cut-off mark wasn’t favourable and I wasn’t able to go in. I never knew God had something else in stock for me.
After the admission list was released and I didn’t make it, I knew OAU wasn’t for me and there was no need forcing it. Although I was looking for other schools when 2015 came, UI was never part of them. I told one of my sisters-in-law about looking for an alternative to OAU. She suggested the University of Ibadan. Her suggestion was confirmed by three of my high school classmates who had been offered admission in 2014. They all affirmed that UI was a good school and urged me to give it a try.
I listened to them and applied to study Law in UI. I scored 69 in the Post-UTME but the cut-off mark was 74. I did change of course and chose Religious Studies with the hope that I would change my course of study after year one. Again, that never worked. The department of Religious Studies has a long tradition of never allowing any student to leave once they joined the department. Here I am now, calling myself a religious scholar. Well, that comes with its own advantage one of which is being more theologically educated than many of those that parade themselves as men of God in the country. Being in Religious Studies for four sessions has proven not to be a waste of time after all and I am glad I chose the course. It is true that nature has a way of putting people where they should be and at the exact time that they should be there.
To write about my scholarship in UI means writing a complete book. As it is everywhere, a university is where you learn what you don’t know, relearn and unlearn some of what you already know. All these learning, relearning and unlearning processes are experiential and each experience comes with its own lessons. Again, to mention all the experiences and their lessons will take a more robust piece than this. Nonetheless, I will write to be succinct when I write about the ones that come to mind as I am typing this.
UI particularly reminded me of those days when we were growing up as kids. My older siblings and I are not from the best of families in town. Of course, that should not be surprising about a pack of three young boys and a girl that had lost their father at an early age and didn’t enjoy family supports except in the area of providing Christmas clothes. Those days, when any of us got an award from my school, people thought our mum would give us special treatment by cooking some delicacies. But that wasn’t often the case. No matter the prize, we got treated to our usual meal of garri and kulikuli after presenting our gifts.
The kids that were from rich homes and had all that they wanted at the time often finished below us. I have since noticed the trend when I got to UI. The rich boys and girls have all the incentive to push them to get out with the best result if they put their minds to it. They go for a summer vacation in Europe and America and we go to our grandfather’s farm in the village. They ride cars but we take solace in walking around and calling it a subtle way of exercising the body. We often loathe some of the things they do as if it was their fault they’re born into rich homes. I have realised that the way you view life and what to make out of it sometimes depends on your family background. Do you think the children of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or Aliko Dangote will grow up to be richer than their parents? I doubt that. But someone whose parents are not as rich as either Bill Gates or Warren Buffett could come from nowhere and outshine everyone in the business market, making a name for himself. Many of the richest people in the world were not born into their countries’ richest families but they have grown to be among the world’s richest people. They gave their best to be better and rose above their family background. Most successful ones tend to chart their own course.
That has taught me that you have the responsibility of always giving your best at everything you do, especially if you come from a family like mine. Your destiny is in your hands to mould it the way you want. Sometimes, being properly appreciated for doing well is good and is a recipe for a morale booster. But when that is not coming, you still have to keep at aspiring to be the best everywhere you go. I have now realized that we may not have all the money in the world, but we have enough brains to always be the best everywhere we find ourselves. That’s enough incentive for giving one’s best.