When the news hit the media that a student (now Graduate) of the University of Lagos was finishing with a 5.0 CGPA, it was quite surprising. 5.0 from a Federal University? Woah!
Questions were asked – How did he do it? Has he always been a genius? Because it takes a dedicated person to excel in such a way. Linda Ikeji Blog decided to Interview him, not only to celebrate his outstanding academic excellence but to also shed light on his journey and hopefully inspire others. From how Jamb cancelled his result because they felt he cheated and more, Ayodele gives an exclusive insight into his life. Read after the cut…
I am Ayodele Daniel Dada. As you know, I convocated from the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos. I am the first child of my Parents. We are just two. I just have one other sibling – A Brother. We hail from Ekiti State. My Dad is an Accountant (retired now) and my mum is a teacher. She has been a teacher for a while now, over 20 years. I’m someone who has a passion for understanding people. I think that was why I was drawn to Psychology. I don’t just want to understand people but I also want to help them and add value to their lives in which ever way I can. For me, it’s all about people, I care a lot about people. Generally as a person, my personality is not the highly outgoing type. I’m more reserved. Religiously, I’m a Christian. I have a Strong Belief in God and He’s a big part of my Affairs. I take God seriously and He figures in all my plans.
•LIB: How was your Primary and Secondary School academic life like? Where you a Genius from the very start?
As I have said publicly, I do not believe I am a Genius. I have never really considered myself a Genius and there are several reasons for that. Yes from primary school I had always been intelligent. Primary school was a period where I tried to enhance my knowledge of the world. My Dad used to encourage us to learn more about politics, geography, civic knowledge and all the things that make you distinguished amongst others and more enlightened people. During my primary school education, I was sometimes on top of my class, other times, not so much. I wasn’t always the top student in Primary School but i was always known to be at least in the Top five percent. Secondary school – The same transpired. I was Sometimes at the top – maybe for a year or two, other times I would be 2nd or 3rd, then I’ll go back again to the Top. The thing was Generally, there were areas that I always had interest in and I would always give my best. And when I really cared about something, I remember clearly that I was totally unbeatable at it. If I really wanted to do something, It may have just been a subject I really liked, I just have to focus a while lot on it. If I like it and I can do it well, I would do something really remarkable at it. That’s how my early schooling and academic life was until University Level.
•LIB: What was your Jamb/Post UTME score? & How did you gain entry into the University of Lagos?
Okay. Now this Degree I just got began in an interesting way. When I did the UTME Exam, I believed that I had done well. There are exams you write and you are certain of your performance. I went as far as taking my scripts home and cross checking with textbooks and other sources (also online). I knew for a fact that there was no way I could score below 300/400. But then Low and behold, I got a message when I was trying to check the result, that my result was cancelled because I must have cheated in the exam. I was Devastated and I felt so sad and I just thought – Okay, What do I do? I had to complain. I had to get people to just plead my case, visit the office and get feed back on what was the next step to take to rectify the situation. It was stretching on and on & I didn’t really fancy that long winding process. So I tried to figure out what the next option was. Some people just felt I should do ahead and take the diploma/foundation programme and I did that. But it was difficult because I am not from a rich home. My parents are not rich. So to just come up with the amount of money needed to pay for the programme on short notice, you know we had just a two week window to make the payment and it was very challenging for us. I has to go round and meet close family friends who were willing to help and showed some concern. They really came around to pull their weight on my behalf at that time and I was able to cover all the fees I needed. I did the program and my aggregate score was the highest in the faculty. That was how I gained admission to study psychology.
•LIB: What was 100 Level like? Did you have a plan/goal set from the beginning?
Now it wasn’t as though I had a plan because all I just wanted to do, God helping me, was the best everyday. The best i could do everyday and it meant I was going to take every small task seriously. I never really left anything to chance. I never let things slide. I was keen on just pushing and striving hard. So that even when people might be tempted to give up, for example, you’re tired at the day, There is a class, it’s towards the evening time and there is also a test, assignment and a write-up to prepare and people are tired, of course I would also be tired but I felt that it was really the test of our mettle… If we can soldier on through those difficult times, we will succeed. I was determined to keep on doing well even when it seemed impossible and I had wonderful people around me who also encouraged me. I had fantastic lecturers who were like parents to me. I has colleagues who were wonderful people that understood collaboration. It really helped. It was the right climate to develop and really achieve more. My Head of Department – Prof. Agiobu-Kemmer encouraged achievement and rewarded High levels of excellence. So that created a right climate and for me. I knew that Yes! I could really achieve great things here. It wasn’t as if I wanted to just get perfect scores…but if one does the right thing everyday, within the right context & climate, it adds up and becomes something wonderful in the long run.
•LIB: Who is your role model in life? Someone that motivated you to excel.
I would say my role model in Psychology is a man known as Prof. Robert Sternberg. He was once the HOD of Psychology in Yale. He just Inspired me. I have read quite a number of his books and I think he is just an example of brilliance with the way he writes and the way he communicates. He got me more fascinated with the subject of Psychology. Outside Psychology, I really like Brian Tracy. To me, he is a wonderful character. Someone who was able to defy a number of odds and achieve something remarkable with himself. He is a great person from my interaction with his work. I have been opportuned to watch videos of him and I really think he’s a remarkable individual. For me, these are the people I identify with.
•LIB: What Challenges did you face in the University Of Lagos?
There would always be challenges but I believe that my relationship or the relationships I had with the people around me, especially lecturers and colleagues, was Good. We all had a good rapport. I observed that no matter how difficult other students say a certain lecturer is, there is always some thing that is very wonderful about the person and that is what we should emphasise and encourage. I believe that most times, when we start out with an adversarial bias, we just want to regard the lecturer from the perspective of an enemy or we want to just see the person that way, the person in question would fulfill our expectations. It is actually a product of psychological research. When you expect the best of people, they live up to your expectations. They actually respond in kind and meet those virtues you expect them to hold. For me, I look at most people and try to see the best in them. From this perspective, I discovered that my lecturers are actually good people and I treated them that way. They also thought well of me because they saw that I cared about the subject matter of Psychology and they saw that first before deciding that I really really admired, respected them and appreciated their efforts in sharing their knowledge with me. So it works both ways. Lecturers are human beings as well and if you respect people, yes, they would treat you with the respect that you have treated them with.
•LIB: Did you ever doubt yourself in any way?
Of course. There were times when I doubted that it was possible but I just felt that it was necessary and important to make the effort to be better everyday. And that is the right condition that God would bless. Because many people go out of their way to pray to God to bless them but God doesn’t see them give the due diligence. God cares about us sowing the seed and doing as much as we can, giving it our best shot and believing that our efforts would prosper. So that for me is what i believe worked in my favour. There were times I doubted, there were times I was worried but I just faced my mind on the important things. I just had to be the best. I have to improve because it is not enough to score an A one semester and think, oh fine! We are Good, We have arrived and it’s all wonderful and smooth sailing. I thought that if the A is like a 78, some people would be like Good Job but for me, if I had a 78 in this course, why don’t I have an 80 something next time. For me, I kept on trying to push and do more and be better. God actually appreciates that. God sees people who strive to be excellent and God says yes, you’ve done your part and I would also ensure that you’re able to do what you want to do. That’s my own philosophy. There were tears but God helped me outreach them.
•LIB: Where you involved in Extra – Curricular Activities?
I had a fair social life. I went to the Cinemas (Ozone) quite a number of times, including with friends and most of the friends were girls because almost all my friends are female. I love movies and there was a time I was the person who you got the most current TV series from. I also attended Birthday Parties, some even into the night. I participated in quite a few things. While I didn’t run for political positions, I endorsed people and also supported them. I also participated in other things including Google AD-Works Campaign that I played a part in at some point and there was a seminar called – Impact Your World Leadership Initiative. It’s a group that conducts seminars for leaders in the University. They came around and I participated and won the contest organised. I also organised symposium for my colleagues. I headed the committee for the symposium and we were able to invite Lanre Olushola & Bankole Williams to speak to our colleagues in the Psychology Department. It was really a full experience for me. I didn’t just lock myself away in one corner studying all the while.
•LIB: Word of Advice to Undergraduates and Others aspiring for Academic Excellence.
Yes I do have. I have said it considerably that there is a great deal of conformity within the system. There is a great deal of conformity in the world. There is so much lack of direction in students, especially in the University. You find students who are just drifting without a clear sense of who they really are. They are easily misled by their peers who also lack a sense of direction and just do things on the whim. Everything for them is spontaneous. I believe that students should understand that you have to know yourself. What resonates to you? What is within you? What strikes a cord with you as far as your studies are concerned? What would be the best feat for you especially as you study and strive to acquire great things? It has to be something that you can do for free. Sometimes I would tutor others for four to five hours at a stretch, just to tutor them in Psychology and I was doing it continuously. I’ll just stand and talk to them as a group. I’ll check my watch and be so surprised that I’ve spent that much time and I did not even realise it because it’s something I’m really passionate about. This is really discoverable only when a person is ready to be considerably non conformist. Because many people conform, it’s a part of our culture actually, it forces people to adapt to many things others want them to do. But then if we are able to say – ‘No! This is what I want’ and are also able to focus on our goals, not someone else’s own, then we can easily achieve them. These goals should also add value to the lives of others. If our goals are selfish, then we are not help anybody. These are things that students should understand. Also, we have to also be able to listen keenly to others and try to understand the world from other perspectives. Finally and most importantly, God must be a big part of your life. If one does all these things and God does not bless your effort, the. It’s all pointless. But when God blesses it and the world recognizes it, then it’s a worthwhile endeavour.
•LIB: So, What are your future plans? What Next?
For me now, I just want to take some time off to consider my options. I know that sometime in the future, I would be involved in Academia. I am looking at a situation where I am able to link the world of Academia to the real world of real/social problems such that knowledge in the Academic World does not just stay there but has real life applications. I am trying to see how we can combine the best of both worlds. Where we can get knowledge from research and also apply it to solve problems. That is where my interest really lies. Application of the knowledge I am able to acquire. I intend to acquire more knowledge, also do a PHD. If there is anything more than that, I would be interested in it. Getting knowledge to work for people and solve Human Problems is a top priority.
Source: Linda Ikeji Blog
Photo Credit: Instagram | tjan_photography & Tobi_Skillful .