Good morning my readers, how are you doing? Hope you had a pleasant weekend rest?
Today, we have a guest from Landmark University. I’m feeling really excited to introduce our guest for the week, Kunle Olufemi Babaremu.
By the time you’re through with the interview, you’ll understand my excitement. You can read previous one here
In his words,
I hawked and sold various petty consumables like sobo, bread, eva-colorant drinks, ice-creams, and sachet water for most of the inter-house sports activities of primary and secondary schools around my community. Very significantly, I hawked during the yearly Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha festive season all through my primary to tertiary education. This was, even as a very devoted Christian that needed to survive.
Abigael Ibikunle of Edugist: Please share with Edugist, a little about your background.
Kunle Olufemi Babaremu: I’m Kunle Olufemi Babaremu. I hail from Odo-ere, yagba west local government, Kogi State. I’m the 3rd of four siblings. My pedigree is a very peculiar one because of the situational characteristics surrounding my survival as a child.
Far back in the early days of my primary education about the age of six (6), I was always following my father to the farm. This was just to assist and learn how to do the only thing that was the means of livelihood for our family. While other children spent their weekends playing, I spent mine on the farm working profusely.
I hawked and sold various petty consumables like sobo, bread, eva-colorant drinks, ice-creams, and sachet water for most of the inter-house sports activities of primary and secondary schools around my community.
Very significantly, I hawked during the yearly Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha festive season all through my primary to tertiary education. This was, even as a very devoted Christian that needed to survive.
I combined farm work with school activities. Still, I was amongst the top in my primary (NEPA Staff School Jebba South) and secondary (PHCN staff school Jebba North). I was appointed as the Head Prefect Boy for both schools. This became the foundation of my leadership sojourn.
My most challenging period was when my dad had a fatal accident just a quarter to rounding up my Secondary education. At that very moment, I had to work twice as hard on the farm to raise money for his hospital bills. Also, I had to take care of the family and meet other financial obligations for my schooling.
This is why it is very germane for parents to teach their children how to fish by introducing them to the family business or means of livelihood because of eventualities like mine. I went to school as early as possible so I could conduct the daily assembly as the Senior Prefect of the school.
During the afternoon prep/lessons, I would assign other prefects to coordinate the activities while I went to the farm and work till about 7 pm to 8 pm daily. It was a bit tough, but I never gave up because I knew it was just a phase of my life. And like the Bible says, “Though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning”
At the point of seeking admission into the University, I tried everything possible to get admitted into a federal University, all to no avail. However, I trusted God for a miracle and He answered me with a David Oyedepo Foundation Scholarship into Landmark University to study Agricultural & Biosystem Engineering.
My family would not have conceived the idea of sending me to that kind of school. There was definitely no way they would have been able to afford the tuition. Even the monthly allowance from my parents to survive in school was the grace of God.
I drank garri countless times because that was the major thing I had. One thing I never did in school was to look pitied. I never let my financial condition reflect on my appearance. I would wash and starch my few clothes just to look good in my own little way. It was a reflection of the virtue of contentment that my parents taught me while growing up.
I saw it as an immense opportunity to study at Landmark University. Hence, I gave all into my studies with the determination to graduate with a First-class degree. I was also saddled with various leadership responsibilities amongst others like Revolutionary Squad Commander, Student Council Vice Chairman, Transportation Scheme Coordinator, etc.
My parents never knew my school until my convocation day. My dad was in tears of joy as he watched me walk up to receive an honorary handshake and scroll from the Chancellor as a first-class graduate. He said to me for the first time in over 20years, “I am proud of you.”
Several other awards accompanied my convocation such as Ambassador of the College of Science & Engineering, Most impactful male student, Effective managers award, and many other leadership honorary awards, all summing up to twelve (12) awards. I really felt happy that I made my parents proud of having me as their son.
AI: Was there any motivating factor(s) that influenced your choice of discipline and institution?
KB: My motivation for the choice of discipline and institution was the scholarship provision. And of course, the unique culture of the University that breeds Kings and Queens, solution providers, trailblazers, men and women that would change the narrative and dignity of the black race in the world of work.
AI: There are two major skills that every student must possess: COMPETENCE and PERFORMANCE. While competence revolves around skill acquisition, performance is much more concerned about skills application. It is believed that most graduates are competent because their academic performance testifies to this, but they are performance-challenged. This poor performance ipso facto hinders them from getting lucrative jobs in the labor market. What can you say about this assertion?
KB: In all honesty,
Competence would get you to the gate and possibly open it, but performance will keep the gate open as long as relevance is sustained. Just like charisma getting you on the job and character sustaining you there.
AI: What do you think is responsible for competence without performance? Please suggest ways of improving the performance level of university students and graduates
KB: Complacency is responsible for competency without performance. For a serious-minded person, competence should be a positive catalyst for performance because it is an added leverage.
Some people dwell and rely so much on the past glory of their academic prowess but the reality of the work place which is performance driven/oriented kicks them out in known time.
However, someone with a tenacious drive and passion for excellence will always see success as a journey that only ends after one’s lifetime and not a one-off achievement. Personally, after bagging a first-class in my undergraduate, I have also completed a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Covenant University.
I graduated as the best student by course work & dissertation with 4.88 CGPA on a scale of 5.0 and twenty-five research publications in Scopus indexed journals. Like Elsevier and other international conference proceedings. We need to keep learning and improving ourselves to stay relevant. It is said that a degree after 5years becomes stale without additional degrees, certifications, and skill acquisitions
AI: Achievement in life transcends one’s personal efforts. There were people who, during your programme, rendered some assistance that made your dreams a reality. Who are specific persons whose contribution you can’t forget in your first-class feat?
KB: My dad was my major motivation and source of strength. He taught me the need to be the best at whatsoever I do. He’d run periodic appraisal on my academic performance just to be sure I was always on track. He wrote motivational notes to me while I was in school. This really boosted my energy level to keep going on.
My mum was always there to support with necessary food supplements in form of provisions like garri, groundnut cake (kuli-kuli), ground pepper for making noodles, and so on. She would not buy ceremony clothes (Asoebi) just to make sure that I was not hungry in school. My mum would always say to me “remember the child of whom you are.” This helped me focus a lot.
My siblings were always there to encourage me. The chancellor, Landmark University, Dr. David Olaniyi Oyedepo was the destiny helper sent my way. He sponsored the tertiary education that afforded me the opportunity for spiritual and leadership growth. My Uncle in Omu-aran was there for me like a father. Many thanks to the entire members of the faculty of Agric & Biosystem Engineering, landmark University.
AI: As a first-class graduate, are you currently gainfully employed?
KB: Yes, I am.
AI: Do you think your grades have or is giving you any major advantage over other graduates with lesser grades?
KB: Yes, my grades have given me major advantages over others. There were some opportunities that came my way and it was just for graduates with specific grades. However, I will like to put this disclaimer out there that,
your academic grades do not determine your height in life, just like mathematics absolutely cannot salvage lifematics challenges.
If you were not opportune to graduate with a first-class, I’d advise you to add value to yourself to the point where you will be sort after by many. You will become more relevant than those with higher grades. Our contemporary employers are looking for value-adding people and not just grade bearers.
AI: For students who aspire to graduate with an outstanding grade like yours, what would you advise them?
KB: Never get carried away with the euphoria that comes along with the achievement. While you are at your pursuit, seek to learn, know, and understand. to ensure you are consciously adding value to yourself by acquiring the needful competences for performance. Set your goals, run with it, and avoid unhealthy competitions. The sky is too wide for every bird to fly without touching each other. Hence, there is always a place for you at the top.
AI: What would you advise the government to do to improve the standard of our education system?
KB: It is crystal clear that our education system needs complete recalibration. Even those of the political class have their children sent abroad to study. Thus, leaving the Nigerian system here stunted and stampeded.
However, I will like to state that the expected system of education in Nigeria is not a rocket-science achievement. It has been done by other nations of the world. All we need do is to study their system, adopt an incorporate into ours for a hybrid education system.
AI: Any other thing you would like to share?
KB: There is nothing we have as much except that which God has graciously given to us in abundance. Avoid pride and give encomium to your maker for every success that comes your way as milestones of accomplishment.
At this juncture, I’d want every reader to know that success is relative. But those that desire platinum achievement like a first-class grade should know that it is just the beginning of the journey. It is not the end, but a means to an end. Hence, stay focus! This is to corroborate the words of the prolific writer, Winston Churchill, who said and I quote;
“This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning”
That’s it on the series for the week. Hope you had a swell time reading?
To be featured on the series, please send a mail to Abby
I am Abigael Ibikunle and celebrating excellence is a top priority for me.
iTeach, iSpeak, iTrain, iFacilitate, iWrite, iInterview and iLoveYou all. Smile! See you next week!