How Dad converted his garage to classroom to teach us maths, others – Ayo-Aderele, Covenant University first class graduate

Adediwura Ayo-Aderele, who studied Industrial Mathematics-Computer Science at the Covenant University and graduated with first class honours, having finished with 4.77 CGPA, tells TOBI AWORINDE what she did to achieve the feat

You studied Industrial Mathematics-Computer Science. Who or what informed your choice of this course?

Most people knew what they wanted to study when we were filling our UTME (Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination) forms. I was not one of those people. I just put Chemical Engineering on my UTME form because, at the time, I was doing well in Chemistry in my secondary school. The UTME subject requirement for any Engineering course is a combination of Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and English. However, I took Chemistry, Geography, Mathematics, and English.

Of course, on applying to Covenant University, I was not given admission with the first batch of students. Upon inquiry, I was told it was because of my inadequate UTME subject combination. Naturally, I was apprehensive about this. Sharing this worry with Tomisin Ayodele, one of my classmates, he advised me to change my course on the application portal to Computer Science because that was what my subject combination was suited for.

However, on the application portal, the quota for Computer Science had been filled up, leaving me with only Industrial Mathematics-Computer Science to choose. I chose the course mainly because I did not want to defer (my admission) for a year and rewrite UTME or apply to another school. In my teenage mind, I had planned I would switch to Chemical Engineering after my first year.

However, after one year of Industrial Mathematics-Computer Science, I realised that it was more suited for me than Chemical Engineering; so, I decided to stick with it. Besides, I’m even sure I would have been unable to change courses due to the initial UTME issue.

Did you have any initial challenges settling into the course?

As motivated as I was in my 100L to do well, I was not happy at first with my course of study. I felt Mathematics was a waste of my time because I believed it was a course where the only career path available was that of a teacher or lecturer.

Also, I had not intended to study Mathematics or Computer Science, let alone the combination of both; so, I found many of my courses difficult. I would sit in two-hour classes and not learn anything. I would just be staring at the lecturers, thinking, “What is going on here?” In fact, what always bewildered me most was when other students would be responding actively to the lecturers. I would then feel more worried because I would think, “Ah, others understand. I am on my own oh!”

After about four weeks of this, I just decided that I would put in my best because I needed to get a good grade so I could leave the Department of Mathematics for the Department of Engineering.

I started asking my coursemates to teach me courses I did not understand. I was also blessed to have good roommates at the time. We would wake each other up from sleep to study, and the two of us taking similar courses would study together, alongside a couple of friends. All these culminated in improved performance for me and helped me to understand better during classes. Most of all, it helped me to form good study habits that I maintained throughout my undergraduate degree.

You said you did well in Chemistry in secondary school. How was your performance in secondary school generally and how did that experience prepare you for university life?

I attended Anglican Comprehensive High School for my Junior Secondary School and Faith Academy Gowon Estate for my Senior Secondary School. Both are really great schools. In Anglican Comprehensive High School, I topped my class quite easily, but when I moved to FAGE, I was challenged for the first time because I was in the midst of students that were better than me academically. Most of the students were also well-rounded, meaning they also excelled in extracurricular activities, including sports.This made me to sit up and work harder because I wanted to be one of those high-achieving students. The FAGE environment really built me up academically. And when I got to CU (Covenant University) and saw a wider pool of talented and intelligent students, I did not feel intimidated at all because I had been prepared by my experience at FAGE.

So, having settled for Industrial Mathematics-Computer Science, though it was not your original choice, did you set any goals at the beginning of 100 Level?

Right from 100 Level, I knew I wanted to graduate as the best student in something, and, of course, that meant getting high grades. So, really, my goal at the beginning of 100 Level was to hit the ground running by getting a perfect GPA — that is a 5.0/5.0. I did not get it, however. Instead, I got a 4.92/5.0 GPA in my first year but I was still so very proud of myself.

Was that the point when you decided that you would work to finish with first class?

I did set out to finish with a first class. I am a “shoot for the moon, aim for the stars” kind of person. It is my guiding principle in life. So, I go the farthest length to achieve my goals, even if they seem out of reach. From my 100L to my 400L, I targeted a 5.0 GPA per semester, but I never got it in any semester. I always came close, though, and eventually, I graduated with a 4.77/5.0 CGPA, which is an excellent grade, even if I said so myself.

What advice were you given when you started out and from who did it come?

In my family, excellence is expected. My parents are not the kind to pressure any of their children into getting a specific grade every academic year, but right from primary school, they did teach my sisters and I that our education was supposed to be our priority and that we would need to commit to putting consistent efforts to ensure that we did well. This kind of upbringing made me and my sisters self-motivated, not just in our education but also in our personal lives.

So, while I would not say anybody gave me any specific advice, this training was already a part of me. But, of course, the standard general advice from parents and teachers would be: “Face your studies so you can graduate with a good grade;” and I did hear that from my parents, teachers, and well-wishers so often that it became achievable.

How did you choose your friends?

My friends were mainly my roommates and coursemates, not intentionally, though. Only a few were outside of these two groups.

Did you find it restricting being a student in a religious university with so many rules?

Yes and no. I understood the reason for most of the rules, and as much as possible, I did my best to stay within the bounds of those rules. I just adapted so well to the rules and I barely noticed they existed after a while. Even the no-phone rule that people complain about the most, I got so used to not having a phone that I never bothered to buy one till I graduated.

Can you give us some insight into what your study routine was like?

My study routine was relatively rigid. I read every day on weekdays and tutored a few of my friends/coursemates on weekends. If I was too tired after classes on weekdays to read, I would sleep a little and wake up around midnight or early morning to study.

Besides studying lecture notes, I watched a lot of YouTube videos for most of my courses for better understanding. I also always asked for help whenever I had difficulties. I always solved past questions, too, right from the beginning of the semester.

The result of all these was that I was always 90 per cent ready for examinations way before exams begun, and exam periods were just spent revising rather than reading afresh. As a result, throughout my time in school, I never had an exam that I did not walk out of confident that I would pass.

Being consistent with this from 100L  to 400L required a certain level of discipline that I achieved solely by God’s grace. And, talking about grace, I was brought up in the Christian faith. We attend the Deeper Life Bible Church; so, we believe in prayers as much as we do in working really hard. Plus the church has a strong passion for youth development; and our General Superintendent, Pastor W.F. Kumuyi, does so much in raising an army of forward-looking, godly, successful youths. My siblings and I are blessed to be learning at his feet.

What was your final year project about, and what inspired the topic?

My final year project was titled “Applications of Matrices in Cryptography.” I was inspired after I read Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. The book was about surveillance of electronically stored information on the private lives of citizens and the possible ethical implications of using such technology. My project centered on how matrices were applied in the past in cryptography to secure electronic information.

What hurdles did you encounter while pursuing it?

I had to restart my project twice because my first two supervisors quit and I had to be reassigned twice. My final supervisor was very helpful and encouraging and contributed to the success of my project. I am very grateful to Dr. S. O. Edeki.

What was your parents’ reaction when you gave them the news of your final results?

Like I said, excellence is expected in my family. My parents were overjoyed. I think my mother even posted about it on her Facebook page; but really, they expected it. My parents did a lot to bring my sisters and I this far. Dad taught us Mathematics, Algebra and Quantitative Method. He converted our garage to a classroom, complete with chalk board and stuff, where he taught us from junior secondary school till early university levels. Mum taught us how to read and write well. She was always correcting our grammar; she read to us right from when we were babies until we could take care of our reading without assistance.

Summer vacations were periods for self-development by way of watching educative kiddies’ videos, such as Barney, Tom & Jerry, Bob, The Builder, etc. We also read truckloads of Enid Blyton books. All these sort of developed our mental capacity and aided our learning. I only realised the cumulative effects of all the efforts when I wrote WASSCE and came out with six A1s and three Bs. So, it was okay that our parents were overjoyed. It was their success, though the certificate bears my name.

What is your advice for students who dream of graduating with excellent results?

Graduating with excellent results is not as complicated as people make it out to be. I have realised that it is more about discipline, consistency, and deliberate efforts. If you want to do well in school, be ready to put in the work. Do not wait till the examination period to start reading. It is impossible to put 10 weeks of lectures for five or more courses in your head in just three days or one week. Even if you could, you are stressing yourself, and quite unnecessarily, too. Create a study plan right from the outset of each semester and adhere to it as much as possible. Study frequently and ask for help when you need it. Know what form of learning works for you and stick with it.

Most importantly, do not have an “I cannot come and kill myself” attitude. You will only regret it in the long run. Understand that your success is more for you than it is for your parents or anyone else. Sure, you would make your parents proud; but ultimately, you reap the benefits of your performance.

Did you win any prize for your performance in the university?

Yes. I was awarded the merit-based David Oyedepo Foundation scholarshipas when I moved to 200 Level. It was an open-cheque scholarship and, for three of my four-year stay, my parents didn’t have to worry about my tuition. It should be about N3m by the time I graduated. It was a big deal for me and I couldn’t be grateful enough to the sponsor, Bishop David Oyedepo, who is also my school founder and Chancellor. Plus I did get a handshake from him at graduation and he told me, “Well done.” It was music in my ear.

Have your stellar academic performance attracted any opportunities to you?

Yes, so many. Apart from the prestigious DOF scholarship which impacted my life positively and exposed me to the world of volunteering and community service; after graduation, I was posted to KPMG for my NYSC, and I know that it only happened because I graduated with a stellar grade.

I narrowly missed a job with Microsoft last year. I had passed the first stage of the interview and had been shortlisted for the second and final stage. However, I had issues with my Internet, but because the interviewer had told me to expect feedback in two weeks, when I had challenge with my Internet and was busy with my final exams and project, I didn’t bother much. I was, however, sad when my Internet was restored and I discovered that my recruiter had contacted me twice. I ultimately missed the job. But then, even as an undergraduate, I had interned with the Bank of Industry, and I also did summer jobs twice with Softcom Limited, a tech company. So, I graduated with a healthy dose of job experience.


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