I Never Knew I Was Going To Be The Best Graduating Student In My Department – First Class Graduate

I Never Knew I Was Going To Be The Best Graduating Student In My Department – First Class Graduate

Owolabi Sulaiman Abimbola is an indigene of Irepodun Local Government, Kwara State, but a resident of Alimosho in Lagos State. From a family of 11, he is the 6th child of his parents. Growing up, he attended both his Primary and Secondary education in Lagos State. After that, he had his National Diploma in Kwara State Polytechnic, and also, a Bachelor of Education in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.

With a 4.54 CGPA, Owolabi Sulaiman Abimbola emerged not only the overall best graduating student in the department of Agriculture Education of Ahmadu Bello University but also the first first-class student in the history of the Department in the same fountain of learning (ABU). In this interview by Abdulganiyu Ibraheem, the Agric Educationist graduate talks about his journey in school, the steps he took to achieve this feat, among others.

Was Agriculture Education, your first choice before you entered the university?

Nope, Agriculture Education wasn’t my first choice, Agriculture was – Animal Science to be precise, so, I had to go for a change of course. So that was how I ended up in Agriculture Education. But funny enough, Agriculture Education is just some inches away from agriculture because it is still a related course to what I wanted to study from the onset. So I can pretty say now that it was my choice.

Would you say you knew you were going to emerge as one of the best graduating students when you started?   

I wouldn’t say I knew it was going to happen because right from the onset, I  started on a stellar note putting in my best, but unfortunately, in the middle of the road, I  dropped due to some certain unforeseen circumstances. But to God be the glory, I was able to bounce back which is what matters the most. But being the best graduating student in my set and my department, I never knew it was going to happen until the final day. I just kept on pushing hard to achieve what I hoped to achieve. ‘Alhamdulillah’, I achieved it by the grace of Allah.

How did you feel when you realized the possibility of you emerging as the first-class class student from your department, and what was your reaction when it was announced?

I felt glad. Although it was a mixed feeling because I wanted someone else to also be part of this, fortunately enough, I was the only one in my section, which is Agriculture Education. I was the only one who emerged. But the feeling was not so good. So if it wasn’t just me, it would have been making more sense but I thank God I was able to achieve this.

As long as Agriculture Education is concerned, you are the best student the Department has ever produced. What would you say were the strategies and extra steps you took that made this happen?

 Wow! Well, one thing I believed in was prayer. That was always number one on my list; because prayer opens doors that you don’t even expect to open, so prayer was the first thing foremost. And then consistency was one other thing because I was consistently targeting something (CGPA). I had a goal I set for myself. And each semester, I always have it in my mind that ‘This is what I want to achieve this semester’. And that was what I work towards. So I was always consistent in achieving my goal. So consistency was another thing. Then the third thing is I don’t joke with class hours. If I were to calculate the number of classes I missed from the first year till the last, I don’t think it was up to ten percent. I always attended my classes; I had perfect attendance on most of my courses. And also, I was always very attentive while in class.

And my reading strategies were quite different from the way you will have some people read. Although in my school here, it is very common to see a lot of people read at night, which was also the method I developed too. I made sure I don’t read too hard but read smart during that time in the night and also not for too long.  And during the day, I revise what I had read the night.

I must say those were my reading strategies and they worked for me.

What was your study pattern like when you were still in school?

My study pattern was: to attend classes, rest, go through what we did on that day. And that had always been a constant thing. And also, during Mid-Semester Break, was when I normally start my exam preparation; this by intensifying my reading energy to about 5 hours a day.

What were some of the challenges you faced while in school?

Well, at first adapting to the environment was a little bit challenging, but subsequently, I was able to settle in; to the point that I hardly travel when I see myself meshed with the environment. To the point, my friends knew me for this and would even call me ‘Dan Zaria’.

Then the other challenge was times when things were not the way you would want them to be, but at the end of the day, you still have to push through. Those were just the challenges faced.

Did you maintain your CGPA from the first year in ABU, and what motivated you to do exceptionally well?

Well, starting with a 4.65 was high but not too high because I had someone with a higher CGPA. Seeing this, I said to myself that if someone could achieve something like this, then I could also achieve that as well; that was all I kept telling myself then I kept on working towards it. But unfortunately, along the way, I dropped so badly in my second semester 200l; I dropped from a First-Class student into a Second-Class Upper student, but that didn’t stop me from pushing hard to achieve the goal that I set for myself. And glory is to God, I was able to finish with a First-Class, even though it wasn’t as high as what I started with from the beginning.

How were you able to balance social life with school work or did you forfeit some for school?

Well, I don’t joke with play, and also being a strong fan of sporting activities, on weekends, I always visit the school gymnasium. Then, I believed that Mondays to Fridays were for academics while Saturdays and Sundays were for life outside academics. I could remember a time when a friend of mine saw me on the field and he was like ‘First-Class too dey play ball’. And that was just me, I didn’t believe in everyday reading, so I took my time to also play and catch some fun.

Did the circle of your friends and family influence your performance to a great length?   

Yes, they did because they believed in me and one thing I don’t like is letting people down. Also, right from the onset, the friends I keep kept motivating me that I could achieve it and when the result was out, the way they were very happy about it, also made me happy.

And from the side of my family, I felt it would be a big slap on my face if I let them down because they contributed a lot towards this achievement – from my parents down to my siblings.

How easy was it graduating with a first class?

It was not easy getting there because at a point when I dropped, it took a toll on me and with my family and my friends, it gave me the support I needed and I was able to bounce back.

What is your advice for people who want to achieve great feats academically?

What I will say to those who wish to attain that greatness is believe in yourself; there is no limit to what you can attain. That has always been what I always told myself and I worked towards it. And my prayer was answered, and my efforts were crowned. Once you have a belief that you can do this, and you work very hard towards it, you will achieve it by His grace.