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Lessons from Aishat Alimi, Bellstech’s best brain (2019/2020)

“The determining factors for each student’s success are grace and attitude.

Your attitude will go a long way in determining your altitude.

But mind you,the grace to excel must meet you well prepared.

And I pray that where others crawl, you will walk!

Where others walk, you will run!

And where others run, you will fly!”

-Prof. Jeremiah Ojediran (Vice Chancellor, Bells Univ. of Technology, Ota.)

Words are powerful, poignant and pragmatic. One is talking of course, about nothing but positive and purpose-driven words. Such words could wake the slumbering giant within any individual; to rise up to the challenges of each day’s sunrise and turn every stumbling block into a stepping stone and move to greater heights.

And what more, when a student finds herself within the four walls of Nigeria’s premier private university of technology with the catchy motto that: “Only the best is good for Bells”it becomes a daily motivating mantra. It becomes the pushing urge for every undergraduate to dig deep, discover the rough diamonds within, polish and bring them out for the world to see, cherish and desire.

That, precisely brings to the fore the inspiring academic trajectory of Miss Aishat Gbemisola Alimi, who clinched the elusive yet prestigious award as Bells University of Technology’s Best Graduating Student for the 2019/2020 academic session. Her feat was not achieved on a platter of gold. No! She literally went through the mill. Like a piece of iron ore she was purified through the fire!

Said she, on that momentous occasion of delivering her Valedictory Speech at the university’s 12th Convocation ceremony: “I entered the university with the mindset that studying here was going to be tough; this made me to focus my energy solely on my academics.”That crucial decision was made some three years ago when she started her B.Sc in Accounting, after completing her JUPEB programme at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB).

This falls in touching tandem with my admonition to students through my motivational book, ‘How to be a Successful Student’ © Oyoze Creative Concept, 2013, to always consider life as a race. To excel, the sprinter has to focus fully on the medals to be won at the end of the race. He/she must not be distracted by the cheers or jeers of the onlookers or spectators. These laurels of course, always go to the one who is the first to get to the finishing line. Good enough, Aishat knew this truism and she keyed into it.But there was another compelling reason for her to want to be at her best. What could that be?

As she gleefully confessed at the memorable ceremony: “The quest to make my parents, especially my father proud, was also a major driving force.” That is what is called Passion- a momentum that pushes the dreamer to break out from the realm of the surreal to frontally face the hard facts of life. She wanted to please her parents, by all good means. But to do that, she had to get her priorities right and do away with all forms of distractions.

In the wise words of Oprah Winfrey, the American journalist, television producer and presenter,”Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” She had that verve and zeal to do what was expected of her with regards to her studies. But as with all success stories there were hurdles to scale over, hitches to overcome. Strange as it might sound, somewhere along her academic pursuit Aisha nearly caved in to the storm of depression.

In her words: “However, at a point in my academic journey, specifically in the Second Semester of 200 Level, I confided in my dad that I wanted to drop out of school since I felt I could no longer cope with the demands and pressures of academic work”! That would have been the anti-climax to an otherwise inspiring story, especially for a young lady wanting to make a meaning out of her chequered life. But thank God that she had some people’s strong and solid shoulders to lean on-that of her faithful father and mother.

“It took so much encouragement from my father. He told me that: ‘Life is in phases and this is one of such phases, which shall pass’. There were times too that when I had tests and examinations coming up, I would call on my mum to express my anxiety, even when I knew I had prepared adequately. After sometime though, I got over this awkward feeling”.

Thank God, it happened. That is the power of soothing words from concerned parents to calm a daughter’s frayed nerves. Still, it brings out the critical question: How many parents out there are there for their children, especially in these trying times? With the killings and chaos in the country the answer is yours, my dear reader.

So, what was her reading style like? “My reading style was lone-reading (that is reading on my own) and that really helped me. She was openenough to admit that the cooperation of her roommates played a vital role in her academic success. “Kudos to my roommates from 200 to 400 level who understood my style and were highly cooperative.” That reminds one of Jack Canfield, who succinctly states in her book titled ‘The Power of Focus’ that: “if you surround yourself with people who are strong and positive, you’re more likely to see a world full of opportunity and adventure.”

With such an enabling environment she discovered that the university provides one a place forself-discovery which is beyond mere classwork. Pointedly, she explained it this way, that:” You get to learn, re-learn and unlearn; you meet people from different tribes and nationalities. It is a place where you attain maturity easily as you get to take some decisions in life that could make or mar you”.Well stated.

Another challenge that reared its ugly head for her and her colleagues was the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. What started as uncertainty became a harsh reality. She wondered how she was going to cope with learning and writing examinations all online. But with the proactive and positive steps taken by the resourceful university administration, ably led by the erudite duo of Prof. Ojediran and his deputy, Prof. Olubukola Kuforiji as well as the crop of her “dedicated lecturers” it all “became easy”!

It all goes to show how the synergy of all the departments of any given educational institution could act like the spokes of a bicycle wheel driving it forward to bring out the best in their students.

Her piece of candid advice to the new students and others is that “it is never too early or late to start putting efforts into your academics; you should try to be the best. If you cannot be the best, try to give your best and you will be proud you did. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to keep trying.” This is point blank.

Going by the enduring admonition from Anthony J. D’Angelo it always pays to: “Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow”, all because positive words are powerful.

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