“How I Actually graduated with first class at 18” – Teen who bagged First Class at Babcock Varsity

Recall the brilliant teenager had in August, took her LinkedIn profile to celebrate bagging first class honors in Software Engineering from Babcock University, a Private Varsity in Ogun State.

In this interview with GODFREY GEORGE, Punch Correspondent, Deborah explained why she chose Software Engineering, her journey in school, challenges, and future plans.

Read The Full Interview Below;

What endeared you to software engineering?

I chose software engineering because I have always had an interest in the tech field. This is because of the background I got from my high school experience. I ended up picking software engineering because I wanted to study a course in my first degree that was a bit more specialised than computer science but is also generic enough to still give me the flexibility that I need to explore various fields in tech, and software engineering was the course that promises me that.

Is this what you have always wanted as a child?

No, I wouldn’t really say so.  As a child, I had passion for a lot of things. At one time, I said I wanted to be a meteorologist; another time, I considered the idea of being a pilot. But I think it was in high school that I chose information technology. My high school background led me to my career in software and programming.

What kind of growing up did you have and how did it influence your education?

Growing up, being the first child of four girls, I always knew that I had to set a good example for my siblings, and this helped me push and study harder because I knew my younger siblings were looking up to me.

When did you begin school?

I started school at the age of one. I was promoted out of the first class of the school, with another double promotion in nursery school. This led me into primary school at the age of three. I then went on with school gradually till I entered the university at the age of 14, graduating from university at the age of 18 after four years.

When did you graduate?

I graduated on July 31, 2022, from Babcock University, Illishan-Remo, Ogun State, Nigeria, with a cumulative grade point average of 4.71/5.0.

Have you had anyone look down on you because of your age?

Yes, I have. Someone once told me that I didn’t belong at Babcock University because, according to him, my mates are not there. I felt really bad but I just decided to ignore the person and focus on school. Making first class grade honours is to show that person where I truly belong.

How will you describe your experience studying software engineering at Babcock?

My stay at my department in school was a normal, average and comfortable stay in school. It was an experience I would refer to as ‘bearable’. This is because I had lecturers that were always there to guide me and course mates and friends that supported me.

Have you always wanted to study at a private university?

Initially, I was to study at the University of Lagos, but then due to the age I was when I was seeking admission into school, UNILAG was no longer an option for me. I had to go with the Babcock option after a friend of mine suggested it and my parents agreed to it.

Do you think you would have come this far if you were in a public university with the incessant strike actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities?

I don’t think so because of the way I got used to studying. I have to study at once for me to understand and because the strikes would have resulted in me always having to put a pause in my education, I don’t think I would have come this far.

When did you know you were headed for first class?

That would be after my results for the first semester of my 100 level came out and my results showed that if I maintained the effort I had put in till the end I would graduate with a first class. So, I decided to pursue that trajectory.

How did you and your parents receive the news of your first class grade?

For me, I was excited, because inasmuch as I saw it coming and I maintained the effort that I put in from the beginning, it was still a breath of relief for me when I realised that I had finally achieved it after the obstacles I faced in school. My parents were happy as well, but because I had always excelled academically, they expected it. Because of that, the element of surprise and excitement wasn’t really there for them.

Have you always been an ‘A’ student from primary and high school?

Yes, I have. I remember always being among the top three in my class from my primary to secondary school. I was always called out at graduation ceremonies to receive gifts at the end of the school year, even though I was never the best in school then.

What were some of the gifts and recognitions you got after graduating with first class?

I received two awards from my school; an academic award for being the best in my department and then I got an award from my department with a cash prize of N15, 000.

Did you encounter any challenging moments in school that almost made you give up?

The most challenging moment that I faced in school would be the post-Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme semester after my six-month internship. This is because we didn’t have time to rest after school and we came back immediately for a rushed two-month semester. It was so tiring that I almost broke down. I somehow managed to pull through, but I have to be honest with you; it was tough.

How did you manage the pressure that comes with schooling in a private university with many rules and regulations to keep?

Like the popular saying goes, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’. I had always believed that I was in school for a very limited amount of time, and if I was focused on the reason I came to school and abide by the rules of the school, the experience would be more pleasant for me. I knew that once I was out of school, the freedom that I didn’t have in school would be mine again. So, this made me enjoy the ride at Babcock till I graduated without having any issues.

You were the University Computer Club’s Chaplain. What was your role?

As the Babcock University computer club’s chaplain, I was responsible for the spiritual welfare of the students in the school, by helping with prayer and inspirational messages.

What other extracurricular activities did you engage in when you were in Babcock?

Aside from my leadership roles in school, I didn’t really engage myself in any extracurricular activities, because I was trying to avoid distractions in school. I always naturally have a sense of leadership because of my family background as the first daughter in a family of four girls. I always remembered that, as much as I have leadership responsibilities, my studies were the reason I was in school in the first place. So, it automatically always came first. I also never took responsibilities that I knew would negatively affect my schoolwork. That really helped me to excel.

Did you keep friends while in school?

Yes, I did. I had a lot of good friends throughout my stay at Babcock University.

What should you not be caught doing in Babcock?

Some of the things you shouldn’t be caught doing in Babcock are examination malpractice or any form of sexual immorality. In fact, no form of public display of affection was allowed in school. We also weren’t allowed to eat meat, chicken or fish in school. My school is a Seventh Day Adventist-allied institution and they follow a vegetarian diet.

How did you cope with such meals? Were you also from such a background?

At first, it was difficult but I got used to it. After all, I knew I could always eat all those things at home if I needed to. So, it became easier with time.

What was your reading pattern like?

I studied a lot after classes in school. When it was time for quizzes and exams, I studied a lot which led to a lot of sleepless nights because I had the mentality that I couldn’t go to the exam hall without finishing all the contents for that course.

How do you conquer exam fright?

I always made sure that I was completely prepared for exams, making sure that I finished the contents for that particular course. This made me comfortable before any exam because I knew that I was always prepared before an exam and that I had covered everything that the lecturer was likely to ask in the exam.

Was there any course or lecturer that you dreaded or were not comfortable with?

Yes, that is a course that I faced in my final semester called Formal Methods. It was the last exam I took at Babcock University. I read properly for the exam but when I got into the exam hall, I completely forgot everything that I had read for the exam. I was so scared. I wrote as much as I could, and after the exam, I kept hoping and praying that I wouldn’t fail the course. When the results came out I found out that I passed, my joy knew no bounds.

Do you have mentors?

Yes, I do. His name is Dr Jonathan Dangana, a lecturer at Babcock University.

Apart from software-related books, do you read other books?

I love to read fictional books. I love Colleen Hoover’s It Ends with Us; Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Sydney Sheldon’s Bloodline.

What is the big picture for you?

In the next few years, I see myself working for a big multinational company like Google, Apple or Microsoft, and also establishing a company of my own. I also see myself enlightening people on the value they can gain from tech because of the passion I have for public speaking.

Did you have any challenges coping with male attention while in school?

No, I didn’t, because I was always focused on the reason I came to school.

What do you do now?

I am a software engineer and a web developer, with plans to move into the field of data science during my master’s.

What is next move for you after this amazing feat; leave the country?

For now, my stay in the country depends on how soon I get a really good job in Nigeria. If not, I would leave the country to start my master’s and find a job there.

What advice do you have for the government as concerns education in Nigeria, considering that the Academic Staff Union of Universities has been on strike for nearly six months?

The government needs to be more committed to funding education as it is the most valuable asset to bequeath a child. I hope the issue is resolved soon so that students can go back to school.



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