They are two of a kind. They are young and imbued with the spirit of excellence. One is 25 years while the other is just 20 years old. The two, Opeyemi Sodipe and Oladeinbo Gilbert set new records during the 10th convocation of the Babcock University, Ilisan-Remo, Ogun State on Sunday. While Sodipe became the first graduate of Babcock to bag a PhD at 25, Oladeinbo emerged the all-time best graduating student of the institution after scoring a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.92 out of a possible 5.0. Sodipe bagged a PhD in Business Information while Oladeinbo got a degree in Law.
Their stories, as they narrated them to our correspondent after they received their awards, were as moving as they were motivational. Sodipe who was accompanied to the convocation ground by her parents had a bad academic start. She was a dullard until an incident changed this when she was in JSS3 at King’s International School, Moniya, Ibadan, Oyo State.
“I cannot describe myself as an average student when I was in primary and junior secondary school. I was a dullard. But this changed when our literature teacher in JSS 3 gave us a test and I failed woefully. The infuriated teacher while distributing our scripts just threw my own at my face and abused me. She called me olodo (an academic non-performer) and I was greatly embarrassed in front of my classmates. I wept till I reached home,” she stated.
On getting home, she told her mother about the ‘perceived insult,’ unleashed on her by her teacher. But thinking that her mother would sympathise with her, she scolded her too.
“She later encouraged me to buckle up. She said my teacher’s action should be seen as a wake-up call. I took the advice and prayed to God to give me wisdom that night and everything changed when I got to SS1. I always emerged as one of the best in my class till I left the school in 2002,” she said.
Since then, the Ake, Abeokuta, Ogun State-born lady, has not looked back. She gained admission to BU in September 2002 and graduated in 2006 as the best graduating student in her class.
“None of us made first class in my class that year but I made a strong second class upper with a CGPA of 4.4 to bag a degree in Information Science,” she added.
From there, Sodipe proceeded to the University of Ibadan for her Master’s degree in Information Science. At UI, she did well as she emerged the second best graduating student with a score of 69 in 2010. The best graduating student in her class then made 69.9.
“I enrolled for the Master’s degree at UI after the completion of the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme at the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State,’’ she added.
Asked what her future ambition was, the third in a family of four said, she would love to become a professor. “I love teaching just like my mother. Even some of my classmates during my undergraduate days recognised this talent in me as they always referred to me as a professor,” she said.
Luckily for her, the university has a scheme where first class graduates of the institution are encouraged to take up teaching. Sodipe has been offered a job as an assistant lecturer in the university.
Her proud father, Mr. David Sodipe, and mother, Deborah, who accompanied her to the convocation, said that God’s grace, discipline and sacrifice on their part were responsible for their daughter’s feat.
“I, as the father, got admission to the university at age 24. I’m happy that my own daughter has obtained a PhD at 25. She has shown that quality since she was in secondary school. But whatsoever she has achieved is due to God’s grace,” he said.
Sodipe, an accountant with the Dangote, however, said he had no regret because his daughter was not taking after his professional path.
He said, “I’m an accountant and she has chosen to be a teacher like her mother though at the high level. I’m happy for her. I don’t believe that parents should force children to do courses that they don’t love. I give my children the freedom to make their choice.”
Speaking on her contributions to the educational development of her daughter, her mother said as a primary school teacher, she was always encouraged all her four children to read, adding that she always praying for their success.
“I know that she is going to end up as a teacher because she has all the qualities of a good teacher. May be she takes those qualities from me but I’m happy for her. She has made us proud,” Sodipe, who is now the Headmistress of St. John Anglican Primary School, Molete, Ibadan, said.
Narrating his own story, the all-time best graduating student said the path to his academic success was full of thorns.
“It was not easy. You know that nothing good comes easy. But I’m grateful to God and my mum for the support. However, let me say that I did not plan to emerge as the best graduating student let alone shattering the record,” Oladeinbo who had his secondary school education at Citizens Comprehensive School, Lagos, said.
He added that though he was not competing with anybody in his class, some of his course-mates including Orebiyi Tomisin and Fisayo Adesanmi gave him the needed academic push.
Oladeinbo aspires to become a legislator that will make law for the betterment of the people.
“By the grace of God, I want to become the nation’s Senate President or Speaker, House of Representative later in life. But as a lawyer, I’ll like to become an uncorruptible judge in the next 10 years,” he said.
But the convocation was not just about these two brainy people, the university also celebrated 60 other students who obtained first class degrees in various disciplines among the 1,370 that graduated on Sunday,
Giving a breakdown of the graduates, the President/Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Kayode Makinde, said that 1,107 had second class upper degrees while the remaining 202 made second class lower degrees in various disciplines. None of the graduating students made third class or ordinary passes.
At the postgraduate level, Makinde said that 98 graduates were conferred with various degrees. This, he said, included 11 who were conferred with postgraduate diplomas and 68 Master’s degrees in various disciplines.
He added that 17 of the graduates including Sodipe were awarded PhD degrees in various disciplines.
However, the university also used the occasion of the 10th convocation to inaugurate its School of Medicine named after the renowned physician, Dr. Benjamin S. Carson Sr.
The medical school has 37 pioneer students including three foreign nationals.
Makinde, in an interview with journalists after the ceremony, said this was so because the academic programme of the institution was structured such that no student could be academically lazy.
He admonished the graduating students to live up to the expectation of the founding fathers of the university.
Makinde said, “Let me say that all of you have been endowed with first-class minds, having gone through a unique training experience which not only makes you employable regardless of your class of degree but very soon employers of labour and visionary leaders,” he said.
Dignitaries at the ceremony included the renowned surgeon, Dr. Ben Carson Sr; Chancellor, BU, Dr. Gilbert Wari; the Registrar, Mr. Hakeem Smith; Pro-Chancellor, NU, Dr. Oyeleke Owolabi, parents, relations and lecturers of the institution