Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
If poverty were the yardstick for academic excellence that could lead to a first-class degree or emergence as the best graduating student in a course such as Mass Communication, Miss Agha Rita Oluwadarasimi would not have ever come close to achieving the feat when she graduated recently from Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State.
The Osun State-born Oluwadarasimi was the cynosure of all eyes among the sea of faces that graced the fifth convocation of the university when she was announced as the best graduating student for the 2018/2019 academic session.
In a style reminiscent of an amazon, she stepped out in a blaze of glory to receive her awards in different courses.
Oluwadarasimi told The Education Report that her feat was a function of sheer determination because she is from a poor background.
While reminiscing on the rough roads she traversed to get to the destination of excellence, she noted: “My mum is a civil servant. She works at CAC Araromi Middle School, Osogbo Osun State, and my dad is an engineer. Her one year salary can barely pay my one-semester fee. So it was really a big struggle for me. He and my mum were able to work together to pay my fees. They had to sacrifice their own needs for me to be able to meet up.”
For Oluwadarasimi, the road to excellence is not a bed of roses. Excellence comes with hard work and determination. Against this background, she complemented her parents’ effort to achieve her dream through an entrepreneur which she combined with academics.
“I started a fashion business while in school to support myself through school,” she told The Education Report with a wave of pride and fulfillment in her eyes.
Oluwadarasimi was a direct entry student because she did Cambridge A level programme before coming to Adeleke University and spent three years to bag the first degree.
She enthused that initially, she had thought it would not be easy because academic feat did not come to her as a shock because first class was a rare feat in Mass Communication because it was only one student that had ever broken the jinx in the department.
“It was a dream I thought would almost be impossible because so far, the university has produced only one first-class student from the department. But in this session, we have four first-class graduates from the department and I happen to be the best graduating student for the session.”
But how was Oluwadarasimi able to achieve the feat? “From the first to the last day of the semester, I studied. The library was my favourite corner. In any area I had challenges, I asked my lecturers for guidance. I also attended every seminar and made notes that I could fall back on. I also worked in media organisations to understand the scope of my profession. Most importantly, I prayed to God to give me wisdom and understanding.”
She added that obtaining the result wasn’t quite easy, ”many people believe that Mass Communication is as simple as being outspoken. But it is not. The course is very broad. In studying the course, you must know everything about anything. That is quite challenging. I had to factor in other disciplines such as Psychology, Marketing, Religious Studies, Philosophy as well as knowledge of the international community among others. I had to read wide and focus on my studies.”
Oluwadarasimi who was full of joy to study Mass Commujnication enthused that she chose the course “because I love writing, particularly film scripts. Mass Communication was what I thought could help me to further get more distinctive writing abilities. In fact, it did more than that. Without discrediting other disciplines, I can boldly say that Mass Communication is the best discipline to study as far as I am concerned.”
On what she would do with the result and the course, she noted: “I dream of a day when every piece of work that involves Agha Rita Oluwadarasimi would interest the world and inspire people for good. I want to establish an international magazine organisation to help me achieve this dream. Before that happens, I am planning to work with different media organisations to know more about Nigerian media. I am currently working for Npo reports as the Osun State correspondent. I am still looking for more opportunities where I can use my writing abilities to inspire good things in people. I advocate for women’s rights through my social media platforms. I also want to pursue my interest in fashion particularly the relationship between fashion and communication.”
Oluwadarasimi, however, offered some suggestions for Nigeria’s education development.
“Obafemi Awolowo once said that in order to attain socio-economic freedom and prosperity, Nigeria must do certain things as a matter of urgency and priority and provide free education at all levels. I recommend his suggestion as a powerful vehicle for education development.”
“Today’s society has lost faith in education as a powerful tool of social change for good and development in society. One of the reasons for this is that the value of education is usually misinterpreted as an individual’s financial worth. A good education is what we need to make Nigeria great. It is the tool we need to promote unity in our country. It is the weapon we need to fight against terrorist activities, that makes us feel insecure in our homes,” she added.
“Education is a recipe for creating the great country that we all want to live in, a country that flows with milk and honey, a country where we use our voices instead of our fists to settle disputes, a country where unity is of core value and love is the foundation of every society. The late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, in his book titled: “The People’s Republic” in 1968 stated: “Any system of education which does not help a man to have a healthy and sound body and alert brain and balanced and disciplined instinctive urges is both misconceived and dangerous.”
While expressing optimism that the upcoming students, too, have ample opportunities for academic excellence, she noted, “education is not about the books you read, it’s how what you have read have influenced your perception and your way of doing things. Take advantage of every opportunity at your disposal to make education work for you.”
“Education is the harmonious development of the physical, mental, social and spiritual. This type of education is much more than a degree. This is what Adeleke University represents. I, therefore, urge our fellow students whose program is still running to take advantage of this opportunity,” she added.
While delivering her valedictory speech, she told the graduating set known as the Class of Phoenix: “Our names represent regeneration and immortality, the features that distinguish us from every other graduate in the world today. Let us go into the world as educated individuals, not just because we have a degree but because we shall make our country a better place. We shall provide better conditions for the generation after us. We will live in harmony with the people around us. We will be tolerant of people who are of different cultures, education, and personalities. We shall also use our voice to advance and promote what is right.”
She added: “As we leave today to pursue our various endeavours, let us keep in mind that education is the enlightenment that ushers in development and should be pursued all the way. To this end, I bid everyone farewell as we go back to our various destinations. As for us the class of phoenix, we leave with the words of Julius Ceaser, Veni, Vidi, Vici, which means we came, we saw and we conquered.”