I DIDN’T ONLY WORK HARDER, I ALSO WORKED SMARTER: BEST ENGINEERING STUDENT
Just in case you need to know more about the life of an outstanding engineering student, you should learn from Ikeoluwa.
Ikeoluwa is a gentle, cool-minded and vast individual.
He doesn’t talk much, but when he does, you might need to pick up a pen and paper to jot down some insights.
He was the best graduating student from Mechanical Engineering department, FUTA. Here, he speaks his mind on a variety of questions and has from his wealth of experience and skill, answered in the most sincere and intriguing way that will leave you in a thrilled state.
So, relax and enjoy every bit of the lines and don’t forget to absorb them!
1. Your full name?
Ogedengbe Ikeoluwa Ireoluwa.
2. Course studied, graduation year and graduating CGPA?
I graduated in 2014 from the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Federal University of Technology, Akure. CGPA – 4.6/5.00
3. Why did you choose that course of yours?
I chose mechanical engineering because it gives you a broad space for invention and innovation. Mechanical engineering is one of the most versatile fields of engineering. Albeit, the nature of the profession is changing with time. This should be a talk for another time. The truth remains, for what it was or what it will become, mechanical engineering will remain my first love.
4. Can you please share any difficulty or hurdle you faced while being a student and how you overcame?
I would say my most difficult challenge as an undergraduate was maintaining the First-Class result. It was like hard work begets more hard work, the more you do, the better you have to be. I did not just have to work harder but I also had to work smarter.
I got to realize that the better part of an excellent performance was a mastery of strategies. Another major challenge was bearing the burden of expectations – parents, close friends, fellowship folks – a lot of people looked up to me and actively expected me to be the best.
Eventually, I figured that as much as these expectations are valid, God’s unconditional approval, irrespective of whether I got a First Class in Engineering or not, was much better motivation to succeed.
5. What is your personal mission/vision statement?
Well, as per personal vision/mission statements, I wouldn’t say that I have a fixed, fancifully crafted composition. I simply want to be all that God wants me to be, period.
Of course, this has several components whose details are too broad. Furthermore, the vision/mission thing, although fixed as far as God is concerned, is constantly evolving in the realm of man. It becomes clearer as we go according to Proverbs 4:18.
6. What drives you to success?
What drives me to succeed is my debt to the world – at least one person out there needs me to be who I am and will be. The intriguing life Jesus lived as a man and how much God has invested in mankind over the ages also play a role. Simply put, God has invested too much for us to fail.
7. What are your hobbies?
Hobbies… Well, I’d say I love reading and writing – those two go together for me. Also, I love learning new things – that’s one major thing that keeps me from being bored. I love music. who doesn’t?
Watching football, seeing movies and taking long walks are my favourites too. I really do love interacting with people on a level that makes them move from a state of psychological incapacitation to one of real emancipation and self-edification.
8. What are your dislikes?
I don’t like it when people give in to weakness, I hate bullying – which is essentially an art of manipulating other people’s weakness. I particularly do not like selfishness and narrow-mindedness.
9. Did you see yourself becoming the best student a few years back and why?
I would say the answer to the previous question also applies to this one – how I did become the best student. But in addition to that, I had great friends that believed in me. My success was more or less shared with them, it became ‘our’ success. We combined and jointly deployed resources to tackle our academic challenges.
I would also say I lived an uncluttered life, I cannot handle that. Not living among students from the start of my studies went a long way in helping me gain stability and traction.
Ultimately, I would say I succeeded because God blessed me with specific leadings and guidance. There were things I cannot even explain, things with obscure origins that God helped me master, adapt and apply to get better results.
10. How did you achieve your goals of becoming the best student?
I would not really say I saw myself as the best student in my department which had a lot of talented people when I started out but I did believe it was possible. As I said, I feel the inherent necessity to be the best. I simply gunned for 5.00 GPA every semester. I figured if I hit that target as often as possible and stayed on track, I don’t really have to worry about being ahead of another fellow.
11. Was there any time you felt unhappy with your grades? Can you tell us about the experience?
There was this one time I didn’t do well. In fact, it was a course in my first semester of school. I had a particularly low grade although my overall performance was good. I was quite deficient in that area of science.
The great thing about that experience was the fact that the very next semester, I had a distinction in the second half of the course. That quick and sound recovery is something I’ll never forget. Generally speaking, the best semesters/courses were those in which I picked myself back up from a relatively low point in my performance.
12. How did you get over it?
The way to overcome is to simply pick yourself back up. Evaluate the last time you tried perhaps with someone with a skilled and unbiased eye, pinpoint the loopholes and devise strategies to plug them.
Then assess your implementation of the action plan to see how well you are doing and how effectively the plan is working. Make changes where necessary, anticipate and adapt to future possibilities.
Simply put, just look back and look at where you are relative to where you know you are supposed to be and act on eliminating any perceived difference.
13. Have you had any challenge with a lecturer in the past? How did you scale through?
I have never had issues with a lecturer probably because I’m pretty quiet and prefer it that way. I didn’t really like being close to them personally, not that I see anything wrong in it but I felt I did not need that attention. Most times, I just let my work speak for me and God did speak for me.
14. Would you advise students to combine academics with other activities while on campus? Why?
Life is beyond school, but a major part of what happens in life is determined by what happened in school. Combining academics and other activities is a dicey thing. First of all, whatever we are combining should not be contradictory or detrimental to the objective of studying, to say the least.
I believe life to be a whole package, not a fragmented mess. Whatever we do should be tailored towards maintaining the wholeness of our entire being. The best way to do this is to have a life goal or vision as we sometimes put it. When you strictly follow a vision, you will not be plagued with a plethora of conflicting activities but would rather have a fulfilling sense of harmony no matter the level of the diversity of your activities.
In that case, more can actually be better. Albeit, in some cases, less is best. It depends on the accuracy of your personal assessment and how much you have discovered about yourself.
15. Were you in a love relationship while in school? if yes, how did you combine it with your academics without one affecting the other? If no, why?
Funny question but salient. I wasn’t exactly in one. I came close though. Turned out I had not developed the capacity for emotional engagements of that magnitude. I did learn the basics of such though.
16. Would you say you had more friends or lost more friends because of your goals and values? Kindly explain.
I was never the frolicking type. I made very few friends and stuck to them all through. The best approach is being led to make the right friends from the onset so you won’t have to worry about losing them. I did get admirers and acquaintance though, those who know you by GP and not necessarily by relationship.
17. Have you ever been a recipient of any scholarship? How did you apply for it?
I got a scholarship once in 300 level. Funny thing is that I did not apply. The Head of Department then nominated me. I guess I was not too keen on scholarships as I should have been.
18. Is there any habit you are working hard to break and what are the measures you are taking to break it?
Well, one major habit I’ve been working at breaking is oversleeping.
As hard to believe as it may sound, I do not stay up to read at night (But of course, I do find time to slug it out with my books at some other time of the day). I consider my present sleeping schedule (which by the way I have been able to cut down to an average of 6 hours a day) to be a problem because I can’t just bear the thought of sleeping away one-fourth of my life!
Studies have shown that the most critical part of sleep which is when the brain recharges takes only 25 minutes – what in the world do I need the gaping five hours and twenty-five minutes for, when there are other fun things to do not only to have a richer life but also to make the world a better place?
As for the strategies I’m adopting to combat oversleeping, I’m currently examining research that scientifically proves that I don’t need the excess quantity of sleep in my life at the moment.
That way, my brain could be coerced by the logical process into choosing to stay awake and get stuff done rather than snoozing away valuable seconds to no avail.
Someone puts it this way – you snooze, you lose.
Of course, I still got my alarm… I wish it has a function that makes it just keep up that annoying beep until it’s certain I’m actually up and running for the day.
Another thing I learnt from Bob Gass, the author of the word of today Is this: the moment you are conscious of being awake, get up and start pumping adrenaline into your bloodstream. Stay on that cozy and usually seductive bed and the next time you open your eyes could be two hours down the line.
Also, I suggest starting the day with your most favourite activity. That will give you a psychological incentive for staying awake.
Finally, I’ll mention the tried and tested method of taking a daytime nap. The extra minutes of napping during the day can be equivalent to a few hours of nocturnal enabling.
19. During your undergraduate days, was there a mistake you made and wished you could undo?
The most significant mistake I think I made as an undergraduate was not having a bigger and truer picture of the state of things outside the academia. I guess my nose was just too close to the books to make way for my eyes to see further down the career road.
But I could have been better prepared for the professional practice of engineering if I had more exposure. I chose to believe that I am as responsible for how I turn out as the system I am in. So, before I blame the system, I blame myself.
20. During your undergraduate days, was there something you couldn’t do but wished you did?
As regards mistakes, I must have made many. If I didn’t make any mistakes, I should have graduated with a 5.00 CGPA 😉 .
However, two things stand out. First, I was engaged in very few extracurricular activities. Therefore, I had to wait till later (NYSC) to learn group dynamics and other leadership skills. Secondly, I did not take financial education seriously. Thank God I have not had to suffer significantly for what is a potentially disastrous omission.
21. Has your choice of friends influenced your success in any way? How?
Well well… First, I must say my friends have been a gift to me from God. He just has a way of hooking me up with just the right folks. Indeed, the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord! Next, I’ll say you can’t find the right friend in the wrong place.
I don’t go hanging out in Church to meet the head of a cult group. It’s not that it’s impossible but it’s quite unlikely. Furthermore, I’d say you are who you attract.
Your mental disposition, verbal expressions and physical designation will determine what kind of impressions you make and consequently, what kind of people you attract.
Enough said about that, I am saying it categorically that my friends and close associates have significantly influenced me. They affected the places I go, the things I read (being the curious type, I wanna read anything I find around me.
Having the right people around me with the right kind of books has helped a great deal), what I do, the language I use and even my outlook on life.
The importance of friendship cannot be overemphasized because the people in closest proximity to us will unfailingly rub off on us. The extent of the rubbing off then depends on our personal depth and character inertia. But most importantly for Me, my friends encouraged me so much.
They took my success personally and did all they could to see that I maintained a very high level of academic performance. Being somewhat melancholy with occasional mood swings and fatalistic tendencies, they are ever on hand to swing the pendulum of my mood back in the right direction.
22. Has your structure of home and family influenced your success in any way? How?
As for my family, they have also influenced the direction of my life to a very large extent. Mostly, they have very high expectations of me. They address me as ‘Prof’. They basically gave me a very high reputation to live up to.
I cannot imagine letting them down. I would also say their prayers for me has been ‘over-answered’ by God. And it’s still being answered…
But what underscores the influence of my family is the way my mother personally saw to it that I and my brother were well grounded academically.
Those afternoons of making sure we finished our assignments and those nights of seeing to it that we knew every bit of information in our books before writing an examination the following day were more than worth it.
23. What advice would you give people with a poor choice of friends and people who are not lucky enough to be raised in a healthy home?
As for people who have had issues with wrong influence, be it from friends or family folks, I do commiserate with you. But then, do not throw around the blame – there is enough to go round already.
How about you channel that energy into something more productive, like finding something or someone to positively influence you?
We may never grow beyond the quality of the major influences in our lives so, talk to God, find a mentor, quit the poisonous associations and make up your mind that you are going to be a positive influence in the long run.
Look forward and do not look back, except it is to thank God or chart a new course.
24. Can you share a testimony that showed vividly that God was involved in your success?
It was in the first semester of year one. I was leaving my family for the first time to study so far away from home. I was nervous and insecure, fearful and unsettled.
My tests and examination were done with so much anxiety. In fact, my health broke down on the day of my first papers. But God did come through for me.
Surprisingly, I even hade my highest scores for that semester in those courses I wrote while I was sick! I really thank God for such a miraculous intervention. He also brought me in contact with a friend for life in that period – Chiemenam.
25. Is there any particular experience from which you will like us to learn?
I would not say I have had ‘a peculiar experience’ that you could learn from. I believe every experience is peculiar in its own way and the maximum essence of learning should be squeezed out from each one of them.
Learning is not quantized in events, it is continuous over our lifetime. The surprising thing is that the least significant events perhaps carry the most potential for learning and growing. When we can be faithful in a little, we can also be faithful in much.
26. Who do you see yourself becoming in the nearest future?
In the next couple of years, 10 at the maximum, I see myself at the centre of a Pan-African platform that leverages on local capacity to instigate, stimulate and sustain development.
27. What advice would you give students who wish to be highly successful?
As for students looking to succeed academically, I think you know what to do already so I will not bore you with vain repetition.
However, there’s this saying I and a very close friend bounce between ourselves – learn the way and find your own way… Simple. We will learn the way then find our own way.
We all know the ‘what’, what you’re left with is the legitimate ‘how’. Looking within and around you and ultimately look ‘Above’ you. Evaluate the responses you get and forge them into a formidable weapon that is to be strategically deployed in the battle for success.
28. What advice would you give Nigerian students, Nigerian lecturers and Nigerian Universities?
My advice to the administrators and decision makers of our educational system is that we do not have to follow the development models adopted by successful countries to succeed. Although their approach has been tested, it is not necessarily trusted to fit perfectly into the Nigerian context.
We are rational and capable enough to evolve home-grown solutions and customized mechanisms to refurbish our damaged national arena. Universities are not merely citadels of learning but more importantly, they are cauldrons of solutions – not plagiarized solutions but ingenious ones.
Nature is too diverse for us to think that things, having worked once can only work that way. We severely limit and pathetically shortchange ourselves if we do so.
Enough said on that matter, for now, I hope we get the chance to deal with that in details at a later date.
29. What is your definition of success?
Success is not merely some future acquisition, it is first a present reality that you nurture daily within yourself. If you don’t succeed ‘now’ it is perhaps impossible to succeed ever.
30. Would you like to drop your mail, just in case anyone wants to ask you further questions?
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