“I wasn’t planning to graduate with first class, I just wanted to be average” UNILAG First Class Graduate
Kehinde Abisola is a graduate and research assistant (Ph.D. Student) at Parker’s lab at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute and The University of British Columbia.
In this story, Kehinde narrates the journey of being a first class graduate from the University of Lagos.
Kehinde’s research is aimed towards tracking the metabolism of highly demanded nutrients (such as amino acids) in cancer cells and tumors. She’s also a Biochemist, Health Volunteer, Education Counsellor, and Research Enthusiast.
Read Her Interview Below:
Tell us a bit about your background.
I am Abisola Kehinde, born in Lagos State, Nigeria. I am 26 years old and I grew up in both Lagos and Ogun states.
How many times did you take the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination?
I took UTME twice and it was not because I didn’t pass the first time. In my first attempt, I didn’t have enough score to get Medicine and Surgery but with the score, I was offered Biochemistry at Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State. However, because my aim was really to study Medicine and Surgery, I decided to take UTME again the following year. But when on second attempt I still didn’t get enough score to make Medicine and Surgery, I decided to settle for Biochemistry.
You eventually graduated with first class honours, having made 4.91 CGPA and also emerged the best graduating student. Was that a target you set for yourself from the first year?
Not at all. When I got into UNILAG, I wasn’t planning to graduate with first class or finish top of my class; I just wanted to be average because it’s a lot of pressure to be a top student.
What would you say placed you on the road to making first class honours?
For UNILAG, balloting for hostel accommodation is usually difficult. So when I got my first semester result I was surprised that I made first class. Again, I heard that one would get an automatic hostel as a reward for being on first class. From there, I continued to strive harder. Then you don’t want to be on first class today and be on 2.2 tomorrow. So I decided to continue like that.
Before my master’s (at the University of British Columbia, Canada) I have always cultivated the habit of getting the best of results. I put in 100 per cent in every exam.
What was your study pattern on campus like?
I sleep a lot and I read a lot. My pattern is flexible, which means that I can read anytime and basically in most places. I usually aim to finish the syllabus before mid-terms, I make my notes and finish reading early. Exams are usually time for revisions of my read notes. By examination time, I would have covered the syllabus at least two times or more. Before my university days, I used to have problem with time management, but in the university, I got one of my friends to teach me how to manage my time.
In Biochemistry class in UNILAG, notes are not really given on the course; you even have to beg for materials or find a way around it on your own if you want materials. So, we had to buy textbooks, read and make our own notes. So, a lot depended on how well as a student you could make your own notes. I remember some of my course mates would ask for my notes.
With all the efforts you put in, would you have been disappointed if you did not graduate with first class and finish at top of your class?
Towards the last semester, I already got an award for having the best CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) in my class; so, it would have been bad for me to have that award and not emerge as the best graduating student.
Was there a time you felt like giving up on your first class goal?
No, I always believed education will make me successful.
What kind of people are your parents and did your upbringing have any impact on your excellent academic performances?
My parents are disciplined people who believe that education is the key to success. Before my dad passed on, he used to fondly call me professor. My parents believe that a child should attain the highest and best possible education within his/her capacity.
I have been a consistently outstanding student since my primary but I didn’t tell my parents about my performance while in the university because you know how Nigerian parents can spread the word faster than the Internet. Since I had been consistent, they were not expecting less. They just knew I was going to succeed in anything I do. In my second year in UNILAG when I told them I had 5.0 CGPA, my father was so thrilled and he started spreading it. Everyone would approach me and tell me that they heard from my dad that I was a first class student. Since then, anytime he asked about my grades, I’d simply tell him, ‘I am doing well’. Before my final exams, I got an award as the student with the best CGPA and he was over the moon. He would entertain our visitors with the award story, telling them the details. During our convocation, the programme booklet was like a photo album and had my name printed on it. So, whenever we had visitors, my dad would bring it out to entertain them. It was a thing of joy. He would tell anyone who cared to listen even in random places. I was so happy that my parents were so proud of me.
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