By Dr. Rasheed Adebiyi
This story “And Aishat goes to Leeds” is a true life story of a girl that displays high level of self efficacy in her academic pursuits. Students aspiring for academic greatness can draw countless of lessons beyond those identified by the writer Dr Rasheed Adebiyi, the Mentor and Academic Supervisor to Aishat.
Sometimes on a Friday 2018, a young girl whose stature could be said to be petite walked into my office as the coordinator (HoD) of the Department of Mass Communication, Fountain University, Osogbo, Nigeria. Her mission was to sign a travelling exeat (a document given to students who intend to travel for more than two days in my university). The request was odd to me. Why?
The first semester examination for the session had already begun that day and she was to have a General Studies paper, her first for the session, the next day. More so, she was in her first year. So, my question was why would she be requesting to travel on a day she was to have her first ever paper on campus?
She responded that she wanted to go and write another university entrance exam (JAMB-UTME). I was astonished. I asked her why again? She said she had always dreamed of attending a public university, preferably one owned by the Federal Government.
She said she was ready to forgo the university exams she was billed to write so as to be able to take the UTME that year. She wanted to restart again to fulfil her ambition of going to a federal university. I asked her a few questions. I wanted to know if her parents were aware of what she was about to do. She said yes. I then inquired whether she was sure she would be able to pass the exam. She answered in the affirmative.
I again probed her further on whether she was sure she would get a score high enough to earn her a place in her university of choice. She was not sure. I then pressed further. How would she explain to herself, friends and family, who were aware that she got an admission earlier, if she left FUOMassComm for an attempt of an examination for an admission she was not sure of? She could not find any answer. I then got her dad’s number and spoke with him. I convinced him that she should advise her to stay. I assured him that she was in the right place. And so, we sealed her stay on campus.
Fast forward to 2022, a reflection of the decision to let her stay was a good one. At the end of the first semester examination, she earlier wanted to jettison, she led her class. For the entire 8 semesters, she was on top of the class. She had the highest CGPA in the College of Management and Social Sciences (COMAS). She was not only leading the class, but she was also skilful such that she was requested to come and start working after her university education in the place where she had her first media attachment. And to say that was the end of her 200 Level going to 300 Level! It did not end there. The advertising agency where she did her national service year was going to retain her as a permanent member of staff before her travel to the UK for further studies.
Aishat displayed (and still does) an uncommon energy that belied her stature. She is intelligent, hard-working and mature in her approach to her studies and relationship generally.
On the evening of the day her set had their defence of the final year project, she composed a very amazing message to me thanking me for all the support. I supervised her research project, and I could testify that she put everything into that work. She wrote the research project well and spoke to her work beautifully at the defence. She was applauded for a job well done by the panel despite the fact that she was one of those the department was expecting to do well. As the supervisor and having known how hard she had pushed herself, I knew she was going to dazzle the panel. She did not disappoint!
Fast forward again to her service year, she already knew she was going for further studies immediately after national service and that it was going to be overseas. She then wrote me an epistle trying to paint a picture of how she wanted to navigate that path and the roles I was going to play.
She courteously asked for my references/recommendations because it was not going to be 1, 2 or 3 universities either in the UK or the US. I cannot remember the number of recommendations I wrote for her. But, at one point, I knew I wrote not less than 6 recommendation letters at a go! If it was not Sussex University, it would be Loughborough or Goldsmiths. At a point, she told me she was offered partial scholarships by 4 universities from the UK and 1 from the US. However, she could not take any of the offers because there was no way she would be able to raise the other unpaid percentage of the tuition fees.
And one day in August 2022, she broke the good news to me. She had been offered a full scholarship by the School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds in the United Kingdom! I was so happy that night that at last she was going to live her dream. The waiting period began. We were counting days. When her visa was approved, she told me. The week she got to Leeds, she informed me. It was such a close rapport.
There is a lot of lessons to be learnt from this for parents, current and potential undergraduate students:
1. Life is not often about where you are. It is about your skills, abilities and perspective about life. It is often about who you are and what you do. You can become a renowned person regardless of where you are.
2. The O’Level education is an important foundation for any youths. Please, let that foundation be solid. Do not take any short cut. If the foundation of a child is not compromised, such a youth is prepared to shine anywhere they go – whether private or public, Nigeria or the US.
3. Fountain University Mass Communication is equipped to train your ward for global competition, Aishat trusted our brand. Today she is competing well globally.
4. If you are a potential first-class graduate of your department, do not only be brilliant academically, acquire the necessary skills of the discipline or else, you are a one-legged football player.
5. Learn how to build a good relationship with your university teachers, especially, your research project supervisors. I cannot count the number of references I have filled for our former students; universities believe that the one who supervises you has worked closely with you and their judgement could be trusted. Please, no sense of entitlement when it comes to seeking recommendations.
6. By the time you get to your third or fourth year in a course, you should have a clarity on what is next. Clarity of purpose is important in life, career and personal development choices.
Aishat, my prayer is that as you had led in your undergraduate days so shall you lead in the PG class. The traits of leadership, innovation, critical and creative thinking that Fountain University has imparted to you shall continue to be with you and drive you to the top that you are destined for.
I am rooting for you. Looking forward to your graduating from Leeds soon on top your class too. All of us at FUOMassComm are proud of you.