Wuraola Obadare, who graduated with first-class honours in English from the Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State, shares her academic journey with TEMITOPE ADETUNJI

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

My name is Wuraola Obadare. I am 20 years old. I hail from Modakeke in Osun State. I am the first child of my parents and I have a brother. I grew up in a home where education is taken seriously. There was the pressure to do well academically. My parents tried their best to give me and my sibling sound education.

What kind of pressure did you face?

I was not under any academic pressure per se. My parents always advised and encouraged us to put our best into our academics.

Did your parents’ high value for education influence you in any way?

Yes, it influenced me in a way. Through their constant encouragement and advice, I put in the best in my education. To the best of my knowledge, my parents sent us to good schools – I mean primary, secondary and university. They gave us good education.

Had it always been your desire to attend a private university?

I left secondary school in 2019. I gained admission in 2020/2021. Let me explain further. I gained admission to Obafemi Awolowo University for the A-level programme in 2019 after secondary school. I really wanted to attend Obafemi Awolowo University because I liked the school. I did the A-level programme because it was going to help me academically and I would enter (the university) as a full student at the 200-level. I passed my A-level exams well in 2020. I planned to attend OAU, but due to the coronavirus, which disrupted the academic year and incessant strikes, my parents decided that it was better for me to attend a private university as admission and resumption into the 200 level was going to be in the year 2022 and they did not want me to waste time.

I went through the Joint Universities Preliminary Examination Board in OAU. There were different subject combinations for different courses. I chose Government, Literature and Christian Religious Studies as I was an art student and those were the subject combinations required for the course I wanted to study.

What was the experience like at Obafemi Awolowo University?

My experience at OAU was very interesting. It gave me a glimpse of university life. It was a different ball game entirely. It was completely different from my experience at Redeemer’s University. It was fun and a great experience. It was different from life in a private university where there are a lot of rules. At OAU, there was more freedom compared to Redeemer’s University. It was an enlightening and wonderful experience. I enjoyed the short time I spent there greatly.

What were your years at Redeemer’s University like?

 Life in school was full of ups and downs, laughter and tears. It was not an entirely smooth journey, but overall, it was a good experience.

When did it dawn on you that you were headed for first-class honours in English?

It dawned on me at the 300-level and my final year because I had done the A-level programme at Obafemi Awolowo University, so I entered the Redeemer’s University at the 200-level as a direct-entry student. I realised I was headed for first-class degree when I saw my results, especially my first-semester 200-level results. My result was a combination of As and Bs. When I saw my results and realised that I was close to a first-class, I decided to put in more efforts.

Was graduating with a first-class degree in English one of your targets or something that happened by chance?

Yes, graduating with a first-class degree was my target, and I feel great achieving my goal.

What did you set out to achieve in your first year?

From the 200-level, I set out to achieve good grades and I worked towards it.

How did you do that?

I had different study methods. I read at any time of the day. I read whenever I felt comfortable, which could be at any time of the day. I read in the morning, afternoon, and night, though I read mostly at night. I planned my time and had a routine. I had time for assignments, projects and time for reading. I took notes in classes and read up on the topics after class. I often read online materials in addition to what was taught in the classroom. Also, I read and taught people, which helped me a lot. I read in study groups sometimes. I attended tutorials as well, especially for courses I had problems with. Listening attentively in class and studying the lecturers to know how to answer their questions in the examination hall also helped in a way. I practised with past questions and quizzes. I also read with people who knew better than me so that we could share ideas and rub minds. That way, I had a better understanding of a topic and knew more about it.

What inspired your choice of English as a course? Or was it something you had to do as an alternative to the course you initially chose to study?

 I was inspired to study English because I found out that it was interesting and that I could leverage the opportunity and pursue any career. I was intentional about studying English. I realised it was a good course to study.

English as a course of study requires a lot of reading. Can you remember the number of books you read throughout your stay at Redeemer’s University?

I estimate them to be about 20.

How easy or difficult was it? How long did it take for you to finish reading a book?

It was quite easy for me to read some of the books because I love reading. I did not read all the recommended texts but I tried to read the ones I could. It took about four days or sometimes a week for me to finish a book. Discipline played a role in my academic success. I planned my daily routine and tried my best to stick to it. I planned when to relax and when to study, and I stuck to it.

What other factors helped you to achieve your academic goals?

First of all, I will say God helped me. Effective time management is one of the things that contributes to achieving good grades. I planned my time. Self-discipline also contributed to how I achieved good grades. I knew when to read and when to play. Attending classes regularly also helped me achieve my goals. At the beginning of each semester, I set goals on the grades I wanted to get in each course and worked towards it. I also had a study routine. For any course I did not understand well, I sought clarification from people who knew better than me. I was focused, determined, and disciplined. I also made friends with people who knew better than I did and I read outside what was taught in class.

What form of support did you get from your parents?

I received financial, emotional, mental and spiritual support from my parents. My parents were very supportive. I am very fortunate to have them as parents; their support provided me with the emotional strength and encouragement I needed to excel academically and personally.

Their unwavering support played a pivotal role in shaping my educational journey and allowed me to focus on my studies and personal growth with confidence and determination. I am profoundly grateful for the foundation they provided, which has been instrumental to my success and continues to inspire me as I pursue my goals and aspirations.

What role did the type of friends you had play?

My friends gave me mental support. We helped each other in ways we could. When I saw my friends reading, I was motivated to read more. They also motivated me to do my assignments on time. We shared study materials and read together when we could. They also provided emotional support. If I did not know how to go about something concerning academic work, I could count on them to offer explanations. They checked up on me constantly and cheered me up whenever I felt emotionally down.

Can you recall how you felt when you saw your final-year result?

 I felt a sense of fulfilment. Words cannot describe how I felt. I was extremely happy and grateful to God. Getting first-class honours was a challenging journey, but relentless dedication and hard work paid off.

It’s a significant accomplishment that reflects my commitment to succeed.

 My parents’ hearts overflowed with overwhelming joy and boundless ecstasy when they received the incredible news that I had achieved first-class honours. It was a moment that not only filled them with immense pride, but also served as a resounding testament to the unwavering dedication and tireless sacrifices they had made throughout my academic journey.

Did you feel relieved that you made them proud?

I felt fulfilled; the sense of accomplishment was magnified by the knowledge that I had not only met my aspirations, but had also fulfilled the dreams my parents had nurtured for me. They believed in my potential, their selfless guidance and the values they instilled in me have been the cornerstone of my success. To witness the sheer joy and pride reflected in their eyes and seeing their child soar to academic excellence was a profound experience.

What was your cumulative grade point average?

 My cumulative grade point average was 4.53.

How many of your classmates graduated with first-class honours?

Two of us graduated with first-class honours.

Were you the best graduating student in your department?

I was the second-best graduating student.

Studying at a university comes with challenges. What were the challenges you faced?

The challenges I faced at school included the lack of funds sometimes. There were times I had to choose between buying materials and taking garri because we were not allowed to cook, so we had to buy food or forfeit handouts. I had to buy and photocopy a lot of materials in my department. Also, managing my social, spiritual, and academic life was not quite easy.

Did you ever feel discouraged by the challenges at any point?

Yes, at one point I almost gave up and thought to myself that I had tried my best, but I applied myself more and it paid off in the end. There were times when I read so much and did well in my tests but when I saw the results, I wondered where I had gone wrong or what exactly the lecturers wanted from us. I felt some discouragement while working on my final-year project. There were times I did not understand some courses very well and I felt like giving up on those courses. I had to push and motivate myself. There were times my supervisor told me that I had not done enough, while thinking in my mind that I had done well. I also had to do a lot of research because my project topic was quite broad and the texts I used were very new, so there was little or no information at all on the Internet about the texts. At a point, I felt I was not progressing or making headway with my project. At one point, I wanted to change my project topic because I felt I would not do too well. There were also times I made presentations in class and the lecturer was not satisfied. He sent me back to do it again. This made me feel discouraged at some point because it was adding more to my workload. Those were times I felt discouraged.

What are the things you find interesting about English Literature?

The thing I find interesting about English (literature) is that it is more than reading books. Some of our courses and the books we read reflected real life and we have different interpretations of a particular thing. Also, English is a ‘crazy’ language. It’s a deep and wide course.

Did you have time for social activities as an undergraduate, with the volume of academic work you had to do?

Well, not really. I prioritised my time. If it was not important for me to be at a place, I would not go. I chose the activities that benefitted me. Sometimes, I had to choose to do an assignment rather than attend a programme.

What are your memorable experiences?

I had quite a few memorable moments in school. First was when I won an election at the 300-level as the treasurer of my departmental association, which is the English Students Association of Redeemer’s University. The second memorable moment was when I received an award of service for being a member of the welfare department in our school chapel. Also, the times I spent with my project supervisor were memorable. He was very accommodating and he taught me valuable lessons.

There were fun times in class when one of my lecturers always talked about some of his hilarious ideologies, while teaching. Also, I enjoyed it when my course mates and I argued passionately about issues in class. I enjoyed our students’ association week, which took place once in a session. It was a week filled with a lot of activities and good food was sold. I always looked forward to the week because it was the time for me to eat good food and have fun. The Christian or gospel concerts organised in the school were also memorable for me. I hung out with friends and saw my friends after a long time because schoolwork had us in a chokehold. Late-night study sessions made it memorable. I remember when we were given a very tasking broadcast assignment and after the presentation, the lecturer said she was satisfied and we were all happy because she was very hard to please. My final departmental week as a student was also memorable because it was the best we had since I joined the department.

Given that not everybody in your class graduated with a first-class degree, what are the things you think students can learn from you?

I will advise students to be focused and make the best of the time they have.

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