24-year-old Ajumobi Yusuf Falola, graduated with a First Class from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology Department of Petroleum Engineering.
At the RSUST’s 27th convocation, Falola shone like a star as he won three awards, including the overall best student prize. For Falola, who studied Petroleum Engineering, the academic accomplishment did not just come on a platter. He encountered difficult times, especially challenges bordering on finance as well as other socio-economic difficulties.
Most discouraging of the challenges, he said, was not his modest background but the financial difficulties he encountered on his way to academic stardom. Born to a transporter father and a divorcee Mushin trader mother, the youngster explained that what his parents offered him as pocket money was nothing to discuss in the open.
Though his parents were sending money to him for his education and upkeep, what they sent across most times, he insisted, was not enough to cater to his needs.
However, what the smart Falola lacked in terms of deep pockets, he found in brilliance and social life. In fact, his brilliance attracted some of his rich student-colleagues, who were providing him with financial assistance.
But that did not come without a prize, as he occasionally devoted a good quality of his time to giving them extra tutorials on campus. The attribute, he said, drew the empathy of some of the students, particularly those in his department to assist him financially.
Besides, Falola noted that the drive to lift his family out of poverty also propelled him to face his studies seriously. Little wonder, with a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.82, he walked tall to the podium and addressed the crowd that converged on the auditorium of the university.
He said, “I can’t even say that my family is an average family. But I have just been able to manage the little resources and financial assistance from some of my colleagues in the university. I thank them because they really tried a lot. Whenever I was in need of money, some of them assisted me.
“My parents are not rich, but I managed what they gave to me and with the books available in the library, I was able to be concentrate on my studies. My dad is a transporter, while my mum is a trader in Mushin, Lagos,” an elated Falola said as he stole the show.
But even as he received accolades from the audience, the valedictorian gave the greater glory to God. According to him, God made everything possible for him, crowning all his efforts with success.
But where there hurdles on his way to success. To this, he said yes, acknowledging that there were little distractions from the opposite sex. He nonetheless, explained that his determination and religion worked for him to ward off any form of temptation.
He noted, “There is no way students of the opposite sex would not have passed glances at me. But I am a very religious person; I don’t shake hands with ladies and right from time, they know me for that. So, the only thing is that we greet from a distance. That does not mean that we do not crack jokes because that has made them to know me.
“My achievement was made possible through the assistance of the God and dedication to my studies. I was able to manage the time because there were many activities in the university and for you to be a graduate and a responsible Nigerian; you have to participate in many activities. This will afford you the opportunity to be well acquainted to the society. In the university, your social and academic activities are important. So, being able to manage your time is very important. As I said earlier, I prayed to the God for assistance.
“My first year was really a challenging one because we had two academic calendars rolled into one session. Having to go through something repeatedly; though it was also helpful in the sense that for courses that appeared to be difficult, we had time to really tackle them and understand them. After my year one, I emerged the best engineering student and I got the Vice Chancellor’s award. Since then, I have tried not to allow anything to distract me from my studies. I am happy today because the CGPA I had then was not as high as the one I am graduating with.”
On whether he was at any time frustrated by his lecturers, who might want to demand money to increase in his scores, Falola stated that he never faced such a challenge, maintaining that most times, students lied against the lecturers.
According to him, with humility and good behaviour, no lecturer will have the moral fibre to approach a serious-minded student for money to increase his (student) marks.
He advised students not to be discouraged if they come from a poor background, assuring that God was always available to help any serious student. According to him, paying lecturers for marks was not necessary because dedication to studies was enough to give a student the deserved marks.
He said, “Before I entered the department, I heard many things about lecturers. Many say that lecturers victimise students and that if you do not pay money, you are likely to fail their courses. That is a blatant lie. I have never paid any lecturer to add anything to my score. I have never gone to any lecturers’ office to beg for marks. My lecturers are all witnesses to that. Again, no lecturer has gone out of his way to frustrate me.
“I am aware that some students who think they are brilliant like to challenge the lecturers in the presence of their fellow students.” (Punch)