SEE the Best Graduating student in AAUA Adekunle Ajasin University
From battling serious financial challenges to being kidnapped for three days as an undergraduate, 23 – year-old Awe Fredrick still worked so hard to emerge as the overall best graduate of Adekunle Ajasin University , Akungba Akoko , Ondo State . He had 4.85 CGPA from Physics and Electronics Department. In this interview with
TUNDE AJAJA , he talks about his challenges in school and his plans for the future
Do you remember anything that was challenging for you while you were in school ?
I had financial challenges but God raised my mum ’s family to come to my aid . She and my aunt made sure my school fees were paid , and thankfully , I had a job somewhere that helped to raise money for my feeding .
What kind of job ?
I was working in a business centre to raise money for myself before I got admission in the university. And after I gained admission , I had to continue working there . I did that specifically to raise money to feed myself because there was a time when I had ulcer due to persistent hunger . My mum and aunt already took care of my school fees , so I had to continue working to raise money to feed myself .
Didn ’ t you feel bad anytime your colleagues saw you working there ?
Not at all ! There was nothing to be ashamed of . They were coming to the shop and sometimes , I would even be the one to go and meet them to get the materials they wanted to photocopy . It was a way of getting jobs for the shop and I didn ’ t see any shame in that . I only made sure I planned my time so that it wouldn ’ t clash with my academic works .
Given their enormous investment in your education , do you recall how your mum and aunt reacted when you told them you were the best in your school ?
They were both very happy . I don’t even know how best to capture it ( laughs) , but they were very happy . My mum was very happy and thankful to God . And my aunt was equally very happy because they both suffered for the sake of my brother and me .
Was it part of what motivated you to aim for the best ?
I never had plans to become the best graduating student in my department let alone emerge as the overall best graduating student of the university. All I wanted was to have good grades and come out with a first – class honours degree . So , I only worked hard by putting the Bible verse : “Anything thy hands findeth to do , do it with all thy might ” into action and things turned out the way they did . Going to the university, I want to believe everybody had hoped to graduate excellently , but without hard work , it amounts to building one’s castle in the air . Beyond the plan , I worked hard .
Some students tie their good performance to the counsel they received at the early stage . Did you receive such ?
I would answer this by tying it to my mentors , like the Pastor Williams Kumuyi, the General Overseer of my church , Deeper Christian Life Ministry ; Bolarinwa Moshood , who also studied Physics and was the best student of AAUA in the 2013/ 2014 academic session ; and Isaac Newton, the renowned mathematician and physicist . Mentors inspire one to do better and that was exactly my experience with them .
How did they inspire you ?
During my first year at the university, we had an orientation programme and Moshood was given an award . That motivated me and I worked hard to receive mine the next time the programme would come up. Truly , in my third year , I was also given an award . He saw my CGPA and said I could become the overall best student if I sustained the efforts . I used to go to him for advice and tutorials. For Pastor Kumuyi, he gave us a formula for reading during a youth programme and it helped me greatly. Also , from the way he breaks his preaching into segments for easy understanding, I learnt to answer exam questions like that ; breaking them down into bits and answering them one by one. For Isaac Newton, I used to go through his quotes on physics and science and they were very inspiring .
At what point did your results get to the first -class position ?
It was my first year . I had 4 .92 GPA in my first semester and 4. 76 in the second semester , so I started well. Making a first -class in any course is difficult and the learning process itself is difficult, but it is achievable . Physics requires a lot of memory work and unlike other courses ; one needs to apply what one has learnt in solving problems . It wasn’ t so easy but with God , all things were made possible and easy .
What attracted you to Physics?
I had always wanted to study any of the engineering courses, especially chemical engineering . But when I was denied admission at the Obafemi Awolowo University , which made me spend two years at home in spite of passing my O ’ level examination at one sitting , I had to settle for Physics and Electronics, which was the only course that really relates to engineering in my school . And I found the course to be very interesting , being the fundamental study of matter and space and their interactions and evolution in time , while electronics is the application of this knowledge to diagnose , repair , design and create electronic components .
Where would you like to work or do you have interests in other things ?
I would like to work in a control and process automation- oriented company, a telecommunications company or any parastatal that is related to my discipline. Then, I aspire to have my own manufacturing company. Being self -employed and being a creator of jobs is one of my major goals , but I will have to start somewhere , like working in a multinational company.
What were the things you did or ran away from that helped in your academic achievement ?
I really don ’t know if this means doing something different but I went for night classes almost every day and I read for a minimum of seven hours daily . I used to visit the library almost every day in my first year because the library was not far from my lecture theatre . But when the library was relocated , my visit to the library reduced . I only went there to make use of textbooks and there were times when I bought textbooks with the little money I had because no good thing comes without making a sacrifice. During exams, I used to go to secluded places to read so as to avoid distractions and if I needed to collect extra sheets , I would get them . Some students are shy to get extra sheets because they think that others will laugh at them .
Were you involved in other activities in school or was it strictly about your academic work?
Apart from the shop where I was working , I used to watch football , especially during weekends . One needs a balanced life and I didn ’t want to deprive myself of that .
Were you in a romantic relationship in school or did you see it as a distraction ?
I wasn’t in any serious relationship and it wouldn ’t have been a distraction if I was in a relationship. I guess it’s about setting one’s priorities right .
How would you have felt if you didn’ t come out with a first -class degree ?
I wouldn ’t have felt bad because whatever I might have graduated with would have been a result of my hard work and commitment .
Did you win any scholarship or award as an undergraduate ?
I did not have the opportunity to win any scholarship while on campus .
We learnt your dad abandoned you and your siblings for over 20 years . What happened ?
My dad already had a family before he married my mum and he wasn’ t ready to take up more responsibilities . My mum suffered a lot while we stayed with him but when the burden was too much, she left the house and went to stay with a family member . At a point, a family meeting was called and it was decided that we should all remain in Ondo town, Ondo State to start primary education since my aunt had a primary school . My aunt helped to get an apartment for us to settle , and thankfully, my mother who had already had training in tailoring in Lagos , started a petty business , like selling and hawking groundnut , sugar , ‘zobo ’, ‘kunu ’, toothpastes , pullets ( young chickens in their first year of laying eggs ) and so on, to cater for our feeding and other necessary things. My aunt , the proprietor of my secondary school , the late Dr. Adewumi Adebile , and my uncle in Adogo , Kogi State , all did their best to ensure that I went to school and I ’m deeply grateful to them . At a point, I was moved to Kogi State , where I took the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination and the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination , paid for by my uncle. God has used good people for me and I am grateful for that .
Will you forgive your dad if he asks for it ?
I have nothing against him . So forgiveness on my part will be very easy . My sibling and I made it to this height with the help of God through my mother and her family members .
The Governor of Imo State , Rochas Okorocha , gave you N 500 ,000 for lunch. Wasn’ t that a big surprise ?
Of course, it was a once in a lifetime lunch offer . I thank him for his kind gesture and I ’ll forever be grateful to him . May God continue to lift him up . I hope my story would inspire others not to ever give up .
What should students do to have excellent grades like yours ?
Students must have academic goals , be committed to achieving them and seek the face of God for divine assistance. Above all , it takes the grace of God to succeed in anything one does .
Was there any weird thing you did for the sake of your academic work ?
Yes , I read under streetlights and slept on benches in school so I could wake up again to read , instead of going to my room to sleep comfortably . However , I want to thank everyone that supported , encouraged and inspired me . God bless you all .
We learnt you were kidnapped for three days . Could you tell us more about the incident ?
It happened that after my first -semester examination in my fourth year and that was during the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities in September 2016 . I was travelling from Ondo to Ore when I was abducted by kidnappers along the way . I spent three days in their den with no food and water , during which the hair of my chest was removed . At the point where the hair on my head was to be removed , they screamed, saying fire was burning them . Then, they announced that I had to be returned to where I was taken from , but they were successful in using other passengers . I was dropped at Okeigbo beside a bridge . It took me almost three hours to regain consciousness and to trace my way back because I had to try to remember some phone numbers . Then, I called my people , using the phone of a good Samaritan .
Have you recovered from the trauma ?
Since that incident , I have always been scared of travelling . It was a terrible and traumatic experience and it was the most frightening time in my life and I would live to remember it. And thank God I ’m alive to tell the story . If not for the praying fathers and mothers, I wouldn ’t have made it through.