Many students thought I was strict, too serious –Sule, first-class graduate of JABU

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Miss Tolulope Sule graduated from the Department of Accounting, Joseph Ayo Babalola University in Osun State with a first-class degree and a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.61 in the 2017/2018 academic session. She tells LEKE BAIYEWU about her educational journey
How would you describe your background?
I grew up with my disciplinarian parents in Lagos State. I am the first child and I have two sisters. I am a native of Ekiti State and I’m a Christian.
Have you always wanted to study Accounting?
No! I never wanted to study Accounting; I wanted to study Electrical Engineering. However, I lost my dad in July 2014 while I was still seeking admission into Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State or polytechnics. When he died, I felt my chance of going to a tertiary institution was slim because he had spent so much on his health and there was obviously no inheritance. I got baptised in my church on November 16, 2014, and it is a date I will never forget. On that day, I met Mr Remi Oyekola in the church and after a short discussion about my good (O level) results, he asked me to choose one out of three private universities: Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State; Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Ogun State; and Joseph Ayo Babalola University, Ikeji-Arakeji, Osun State. He said I had to read either Medicine or Accounting, being an Accountant himself. He said I should make a decision before the following Sunday and also come along with my mother.
During the week, I couldn’t keep calm because of the big offer. Fortunately, JABU was the only school where new students had not matriculated, so I could still get admitted. During that week, I also concluded that I could not study Accounting because I was doing sciences and I didn’t have foundational knowledge of social sciences. On the other hand, I didn’t like Medicine because of blood and biological experiments. So, I didn’t make any decision. When I saw him again, I shared my feelings with him and he suggested that I should study Accounting. Whichever course, my poor mother couldn’t control her excitement. We were so overwhelmed and she wanted me to go to a university, irrespective of the course offered because my younger sister had gained admission into the University of Lagos to study CiviI Engineering. I am very grateful  to God and to Mr Oyekola and his family because he practically gave me a future. I do not regret choosing Accounting.
Would you attribute your attainment of a first-class degree to providence or did you set out to achieve the goal?
I did not plan to have a first-class degree. In fact, I never had a plan for my life but I’m very sure that God promised me a first-class degree. I got this promise on a particular night but I doubted it deep down in my heart. It did not seem feasible because I was having a tough time understanding the course, considering the fact that I resumed so late. However, God gave me a good start: the first day I attended class, we took a mathematics test. I was new but I did it and scored 6 out of 10; I had the highest score. So, the lecturer looked for me and in the course of doing that, some of my course mates realised I was new. They asked me to explain an assignment in Accounting to them. I didn’t know it but I didn’t tell them that, so I asked them to come the following weekend because I was still busy with registration. During the week, I studied the textbook and I began to love the course. It was very easy and practical because I love calculations. By that weekend, I was prepared but no one came to me. Till now, they have yet to come.
I began to yearn for the course, I began to read about it and I understood every single concept. My first GPA was 4.43 and I wanted more! So, that was how God motivated me to do well. I have now discovered that everyone loves success but needs a little motivation and assurance.
As an undergraduate, how many hours did you actually spend reading in a day?
As an undergraduate with a goal in mind, I spent just eight hours reading daily. To me, it was never enough because I always had bulky materials to read. Even if the course was a brief one, I would make it bulky by gathering other materials. An average student in the school thought I was strict, too serious and unfriendly.
The eight-hour study would not be done at a stretch. I read for three hours in the night and I took it very seriously. It was a ‘policy’ for me to study between 12am and 3am; I must be awake to study ahead. Night was for studying ahead, using the course scheme as a guide and during the day, I would revise what we had been taught in class between 5pm and 7pm. It took me two hours to read up all we’d been taught in a day because I had used the previous night to tackle the course. So, the lecturer just makes me understand better and every class feels like a rehearsal. I also read in the morning between 7am and 8am. This makes a total of eight hours daily, which is usually extended during weekends.
Did you read like that when you were in primary and secondary schools?
No, I did not have any excellent performance before I got to the university. I always had an average of 65 per cent academic performance. However I can boldly say that if I was diligent, I would have done better in my previous schools. One major incident I remember happened when I was leaving secondary school. I did not receive any prize for academic excellence. I was disappointed that after a six-year journey, all I could take home was a prize for being the Chapel Prefect. So, during the ceremony, tears rolled down my eyes as I saw a father jubilating because his son was the best student. My mum sat beside my sick dad, watching the whole drama. I’m sure my dad wasn’t happy.
Deep in my childish heart, I made a decision to do excellently well in the university, even to the extent of being rewarded with awards. However, I had forgotten about the decision because my father’s death and the situations around it had saturated my reasoning. I needed to be brought back on track and God reminded me in the form of a promise. But yes, if I hadn’t worked hard too, I wouldn’t have made a first-class degree.
 How often did you use the library in school?
Throughout my undergraduate days, I visited the library five times, maybe to get a very important textbook that was not in PDF format (soft copy). I’m not a library freak. I had particular hideouts where I studied because I didn’t like to flaunt my effort; I preferred to show off my results, then people would ask me how I did it.
What was your reading style?
I had a unique reading style. I can’t read effectively without having snacks, sweets, etc. I also read with a permanent jotter and pen in order to reproduce what I had learnt. I love to understand everything I read before I memorise it. One of  the things that helped me was understanding the basic concept of everything so that even if I forgot the definition, I could still put down something in my own words. And I also observed that when I put it in my own words, my answer scripts were usually more bulky, so I scored higher marks. I wouldn’t be able to give a proper grammatical construction in my own words if I had not been reading other related materials. One of my reading styles was to consult other books. It enhances mastery!
What was your typical day like while in the university?
My typical day was like a routine. I did almost the same things every day. I woke up by 5am to have a bath, pack my bag and say my prayers. Then by 6am-6.30am, there would be general devotion in the school. By 7am, I would be in the classroom to read for one hour before class would start by 8am. Classes might go on till 4pm, latest by 5pm. From there, I went to a hideout to read up what I just learnt. I would conclude by 7pm or thereabout because by then, boyfriends and girlfriends would have started to converge. I would have my dinner and by 8.30pm, I was fast asleep most times. Remember that I had to wake by 12am. Sometimes, I might reschedule my reading appointments because of chapel meetings and other extracurricular activities. You might be wondering if I had friends. Yes I did, but I kept a really small circle of friends. I made friends with older people, like young lecturers or people that had the same goal with me.
What was your schedule like towards and during examinations?
I had a very funny schedule during examinations. Our timetables were usually released about two weeks before the examinations, on weekends. So, once the timetable was released, I would go into my wardrobe and take out all the formal clothes I needed during the examinations. I would do a decent hairstyle that weekend and buy the beverages and snacks I would need as ‘support system’ when I read. I would also get new stationery and all the necessary documents. Also, I would have been done with all my bulky notes and summarised the whole course into abbreviations and short paragraphs.
When the examinations commenced, I would not wake up by 5am, but by 6am. I didn’t usually have a bath in the morning because it was usually cold during examination periods. So, I would clean up after my papers when it was already sunny. I hardly attended any meetings except mandatory ones. I wouldn’t joke around, I would just deactivate cell phones to read, read and read.
You said your colleagues taunted you for being too serious.
Definitely, I got taunted jokingly and seriously, especially during my first two years. I remember during one of my examinations when I was in Year 2, someone almost picked a fight with me because I refused to give them answers in the examination hall. It was a policy for me: I never talked during examinations and I sat at the front row always. A lot of people misunderstood me but by my third year, I had made an impression, so they accepted me for who I was.

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