Adeolu Tope AKINBOWA of the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, shone like a bright star at the convocation of the university held Friday last week, as he emerged the Overall Best Graduating Student, winning 15 prizes. In this interview, he shared with Nigerian Tribune’s Education Editor, LAOLU HAROLDS some of his experiences and success tips.
You bested everybody, scooped 15 prizes, …in Medicine. that was quite a feat! To what do you attribute this?
I believe it’s the grace of God; because I don’t believe there is any good thing that happens that God has not made possible. But in addition to that, I know that success is never an accident; there is usually some form of preparation. I have some principles that I put into practice that really helped me. One of them is consistency. I tried as much as possible to be consistent throughout my years in the higher institution. Throughout my nine years in Ife, I was able to lead my set. There was this Aristotle’s quotation which I see to be a word of wisdom: It says you are what you repeatedly do. Therefore, success is not an act; it’s a habit.
“It’s God’s Grace and consistency, Success is never an accident” — Tope, OAU Medicine and Surgery Best Graduating Student who bagged 15 prizes
Another thing is discipline. Again, another philosopher said ‘Discipline is like a bridge between your goals and the achievement of those goals’. In other words, without discipline, you cannot cross over from planning to the achievement of your goals. There were times I had to deny myself of many things, pleasures, and so on. There were times my friends would go to party, but I would stay back and keep to myself and study.
Ok. Let’s go further back to your secondary school days. Have you always been an outstanding student, or was this brilliance something of a momentum you picked up along the way?
By the grace of God, in my secondary school, I did well. I attended Comprehensive College, Idanre, Ondo State. It’s a public school; and to the glory of God, I led my class throughout the six years, and I was able to make 8 Distinctions (6 A1s, 2 Bs and a Credit) in my SSCE.
What was your best subject in those days in secondary school?
Physics. In fact, people thought I was going to study Engineering; but I used to tell them that my passion is not even in line with Physics. Eventually, I went for Medicine.
Does this brilliance run in the family?
(Chuckles) My mum didn’t go to school at all. She never had any western education. My dad too never had western education; he was a farmer. He’s late now. I just thank God.
Mum never had western education; dad was a farmer. So, your brilliance today wasn’t really because you had a dad or mum that was always forcing you to read…
No. In fact, at the very early days of my life, my dad never thought I would go to school. What I thought then was to take after him. I used to follow him to the farm. And that was why my education is a bit late; now I’m about 28, 29 (years old). In those days when my mates were already in school, I was following my dad to the farm. I thought I was going to be a farmer.
So, where did you pick up the habit of being studious?
My mum liked education; she just didn’t have the privilege of going to school. Of all her siblings, she was the only one who couldn’t go to school at all. She loved formal education; so, she kept encouraging me, until I started school. And I’ve been doing well ever since.
At what point in your life did you decide to study medicine, and why?
What actually prompted me to study medicine was the death of my father. My father died when I was still in primary school. I remember then that my mum followed him to hospital; that was FMC (Federal Medical Centre), Owo, Ondo State, where he was admitted. They did all the (investigation), the consultant and all. When they came down, they gave the report that they had no idea what was wrong with him. As little as I was (just 10 years old going to 11 then), I was curious that ‘what does that mean that they don’t know?’ I was thinking: could it be deficiency of clinical proficiency? Could it be that this is where God is demonstrating his own wisdom? There was this curiosity in my mind then. That was what was inspiring me that I would go to medicine. I still remember vividly the symptoms that my dad complained of; he complained of lower back pain and all that. So, when I got to university, I was eager to study that case very well to actually know if I could have an idea of what was wrong with him (my dad).
Eventually, I discovered that there are occasions that people can actually die and you would not find out what exactly was the fault. So, even though I was curious as a young boy, eventually I got to know that a person can actually die without the doctor knowing the cause.
What field of medicine are you planning to go into when you begin to practise?
My interest in medicine is not just for me alone. By the grace of God, I really want to help people, especially my mum, my siblings and other people out there (God helping me). So, I want to go into a field of medicine that would be lucrative enough to be able to cater for my philanthropic ambition. I have interest and inclination towards Obstetrics and Gynecology.
If you had not studied medicine (say you had not been given admission to study medicine, for instance), what would you have done?
I would have studied something else, but I would have regretted it for life. Medicine has been a passion for me.
What level of socialization did you have, and how did you manage to not allow it get in your way of academic success?
My degree of socialization was moderate; not like many of my colleagues. In fact, I was a leader in my campus fellowship…
Did you have a girlfriend? I know this is a major distraction for many students.
(Chuckles) I didn’t, until about three months ago that I had someone. But throughout my university, I wasn’t going out for girls.
So, you didn’t mix with people?
I mixed with people who I knew were going in the same direction as I. I carefully selected my friends. A man once told me (I learnt so much from him); he said: ‘you have to choose your friends, or your friends will choose your destiny’. I have friends, but the kind of friends I move with are people who are going in the same direction as I am.
Had it always been an ambition for you to one day come out tops like this, or was this a momentum you built up along the way?
I had always had it in my mind that I wanted to be the best. So, I gathered my energy and efforts; and God helped me.
Were there dark clouds, challenges along the way?
Definitely. One of the biggest challenges I had in the Medical School was financial problem. Immediately I finished secondary school, I had to (work) for about a year before going to school. I was able to save a little amount. But after a few months, after my registration and other things, I had nothing left. In fact, there was a time for a whole week on campus I didn’t have a kobo, and I didn’t have any foodstuff. But thank God I was able to demonstrate prowess in many of those subjects; so many of my colleagues would call me. One person would call me today (maybe Chemistry in our Part 1 days) and say ‘you will (teach) me Chemistry today’. They would buy me food for that day. The next day, another person may say, Physics; and I would go and lecture him, he would buy me food. But thank God when I got to 300 Level, I got the Club 66 Scholarship Award (Club 66 is formed by Idanre elite; they give scholarships). When I got to Part 3, I applied and I was able to get scholarship. At least, they were giving N60,000 annually. I also applied for another scholarship as well and I got it. I managed on those scholarships from Part 3 to Part 6. That really helped me.
Medical students are known to study for long hours. How many hours did you read per day?
I tried to read about four, five hours a day, minimum.
If you were to advise people who are aspiring to what you’ve just achieved, what success secrets would you share with them?
I would tell them that they need to know their God; very important. Whatever you aspire to in life, if you don’t put God in it, it’s going to be a failure. Success without God in it is just a waste of time; because the end of it is going to be destruction.
Secondly, you must have a vision, right from the beginning, of what you want to achieve. Like I said, success is never an accident. You must have a mental picture of where you’re going; what you want to achieve. In fact, you need to write it down, so that you can see it from time to time. Then, like I said, consistency is another weapon. What you do consistently is what you will eventually produce. And you must have passion for what you are doing; it will keep you going.
source: Tribune online