Becoming all you can During and After School

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Like I had mentioned earlier, it does pain to at a point in one’s life to look back and discover one is not where one had desired  or see that one is behind pace with one’s peers in the sphere of life. 

A LECTURE DELIVERED TO FRESH STUDENTS,

AT THE FRESH STUDENTS’ ORIENTATION PROGRAMME,

ORGANISED BY:

 THE STUDENT AFFAIRS DIVISION,

FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AKURE (FUTA),

ONDO STATE.

BY:

OYE AGUNBIADE (HON)

THE PROSPECTS/FRCN

27th February, 2014.

The Pro-Chancellor,

The Vice-Chancellor of this great University, Prof Biyi Daramola,

The Deputy Vice Chancellors,

The Registrar,

The Bursar,

Dean of Student Affairs- Dr Kayode Alese, other Deans,

All Professors and Heads of Departments here Present,

Other Principal Officers of the University,

Our Distinguished invited Guests,

Gentlemen of the press, the noble profession,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

And The Greatest Futarians,

Preamble

It delights me today to address you; the potential leaders, think tanks and technocrats of tomorrow. I am happier because often in certain situations, I look back and say “How I wish I had been exposed to some realities so so so years back”. That such rare opportunity is what you have before you this morning. Hence I congratulate you first on overcoming all the set standard and rigours it took you to be a part of the selected few in this hall. I however share feelings with someone somewhere here who had spent years trying time and again to secure this admission; now you made it. CONGRATS! I had also like to tell you this: That what matters most isn’t those struggling years but your determination to soar high from today as a high achiever.

Introduction

Like I had mentioned earlier, it does pain to at a point in one’s life to look back and discover one is not where one had desired  or see that one is behind pace with one’s peers in the sphere of life. More painful it is to conclude that the position could have been averted but because of ignorance or negligence to do what is appropriate at the right time, it slipped on. The mentioned scenario characterizes many lives today. While few of such people are struggling hard in such situation to earn their livelihood, others are a sort of pest to the society and family all because of their ill attitude to such a venture you are trending from today.

Yes opportunities don’t altogether come the same way to all human but it does come to all human. And one of such that had permeated time for the poor and wealthy is education.

Have your background beclouded your vision, hence making you doubt the completion of a giant leap you are taking today? May be your past failures had conditioned your thinking to that of a mediocre and all you think you can have out of FUTA is just becoming an average student? And perhaps you had been the best student in your former school with awards and you are coming in here with the mindset of continuing that lead in FUTA? If any of these had been your thought then I have a word for you!

A PANORAMA OF LIFE (A long term view about life)

As an undergraduate there is the overall tendency to think you have quite a good number of years ahead hence you feel like catching fun and exploring different social activities. But it doesn’t work that way here, because excellence begins the moment your academic activities begin. The university environment is no doubt a place to take some lifetime decisions. Your mates could address you with different names borne out of your positive attitude to your studies; all you need bear in mind is that the output depends so much on the input. There are two types of students in the class room as noted by the renowned Neurosurgeon and Writer -Ben Carson. According to Carson, we have the Cool guys and the Nerds.

The cool guys in every school are the ones who have earned a varsity letter in several sports. They wear the latest fashions. They know all the hit tunes. They can discuss about the winning football clubs and latest movies. They drive nice cars and keep company of beautiful girlfriends and boyfriends.

Meanwhile, the Nerds are guys always hauling around an armload of books, with more in their backpacks. They wear clean clothes and often big, thick glasses. They understand the Science experiments, some trek down to school or hang in campus shuttles. Most of the popular flashing girls are hardly caught speaking to them in the hallway between classes. According to Carson: “the years go by, and graduation draws near often the cool guy has not done well in school, but his personality wins him a job at the local fast-food franchise, flipping hamburgers and waiting on customers”.

The nerd who has won a scholarship goes off to College; he finishes up at college and does very well. Upon graduation he accepts a job offer from a fortune company. With his first pay check, he goes to the eye doctor who replaces those big, old, thick glasses with a pair of contacts. He stops at the tailor and picks out a couple of nice suits to wear. He further makes a down payment on a new Lexus after saving a big chunk of his first few salaries. When he drives home to visit his parents, all the young women in the old neighbourhood say: “Hey, don’t I know you?” suddenly, they do not want to talk to the guy behind the fast food counter anymore (Carson, 1992).

The first guy- the Cool guy had everything back in the high school, but what did he get for all that? The other guy was not cool at all- but was focused and at the long run he stood tall.

The charge from this story is to have a big picture perspective about life. You need to have a vision about what you want to become and at the same time make out of the venture you are beginning today. You see, your vision is a propeller because it compels you, it flashes always and by that you want to live up to achieving it. The driving force of the NERD as described is the future he eventually earned. The guy didn’t look at today but tomorrow. And that involves thinking big at this stage of your life. This however begins with determination to at all cost become great through noble means. While others are crazy with fashion,( I don’t detest fashion anyway, but priority for it above what counts and will count for lifetime must be condemned) you go for books and learning. Anybody could be responsible for what you are now; for delay in admission or past failures but from today you must be responsible for what becomes of you.

Learning: A Proven Secret to Becoming All You Can

It is chiefly through books that we enjoy intercourse with superior minds. In the best books great men talk to us, give us their most precious thoughts and pour their souls into ours. God be thanked for books. They are the voices of the distant and the dead, and make us heirs of the spiritual life of past ages. Books are true leveller. They give to all who will faithfully use them, the society, the spiritual presence of the best and greatest of our race

William Ellery Channing.

On this new path, readiness to give yourself to sound knowledge by reading through books and acquiring relevant materials will at the long-run take you to greater heights. No doubt at times, its boring while reading especially for beginners even now that the media and phones are competing for our attention. But it pays eventually. Ben Carson remains a good example in this regard. Carson’s story shows that education can help bring your dreams come through. Carson was a one-time Dummy, who had concluded he can never be brilliant, but now thanks God who changed that mindset. Recently he retired as the director of pediatric Neurology at one of the biggest medical institution in the world- Johns Hopkins after pioneering unequalled development in the world of surgery. Carson however hails from a very poor family with a single parent, who strives hard to ensure Ben and his brother have education and become somebody. It sounds strange hearing such story from the Western world, but it’s real and a testament that you can soar above all difficulties and limitation to become renowned in your chosen field through working hard.

We often wonder and get confused about the way we comprehend and unfortunately some fellows had concluded they cannot assimilate. I had shifted base with some of this propositions in the past until I got the understanding that we cannot overload the human brain. I am amazed that the brain can accurately acquire everything we encounter. Ben Carson submits that:

The divinely created Brain has fourteen billion cells, noting that if used to the maximum, this human computer inside our heads could contain all the knowledge of humanity from the beginning of the world to the present and still have room left over. (Carson 1992:201)

He however adds that “the difficulty does not come with the input of information, but in getting it out. He explained that sometimes we file information randomly or tie significant bits of information to information of little importance, hence it confuses us”. The point from the above is a confirmation of the power of our brain and a motivation for as many that had regarded themselves as mediocre in their academic activities. I am of the opinion that you forget about your secondary school grades at this point in time because now you are entirely fresh and afforded new opportunities from which you can prove to the world that you can adequately employ your fourteen billion brain cells for excellence. Meanwhile, I want you to know that reading is the master key to learning in this environment and I bet you that with God on your side, you can become who you had chosen to become if you give yourself to it. Consequent to what many thinks about reading, Carson tells us that:

 What is true of so many things in life is definitely true of reading. The more you do it, the easier it gets and the easier it gets, the more efficient you can extract relevant data from the printed page- not just breadth of information but also depth—(The Big Picture,203)

Clarence Day supports this in his definition of books that:

The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man, nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out. After an era of darkness, new races build others; but in the world of books are volumes that live on still as young and fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead. (Think Big, 20)

The essence of reading is hence such an invaluable one to the student who wants not only to be relevant today but also tomorrow. One of the problem students do have with reading is based on the fact that we do not totally give ourselves in for it. We often carve out small time for reading.

I like to make a statement here that: if your reading is consistent, in-depth and focused you will get to a level that reading will become very interesting and a must activity for you. You also need to study yourself to know the style that works for you. Some do well at night, while others are at their best during the day. Also, some meals aid sleeping; you can’t say you want to read in the evening and go for pounded yam. We all still battle with that today but with determination there will always be a way. So study yourself.

Let me quickly add at this juncture that “it is your learning today that determines your earning tomorrow. There is therefore no limit to learning. That is why if you used to be the first and most brilliant in your secondary school, you need to understand that now- all students that used to be the first in their various schools are altogether here with you; meaning that you need to buckle up in order not to be left behind (Agunbiade, 2009). Hence your focus should be determination to graduate with first class, as it may be late making such determination next semester. A secret I had however love to share with you is the fact that all students on admission to school are all offered First class and A’s in all semester courses. Surprised? The cool guy and the Nerd described above were both offered this opportunity but the Nerd maintained it all through to graduation. And that’s the case with high grade graduates. Distractions and situations at times beyond your power may arise but be determined to come out with good grades because it counts especially if you want to further your studies. Definitely you will want to proceed as the first degree has become a sort of commonplace achievement in contemporary Nigeria.

Time Management: An Enduring Secret to Excellence

We all have the 24hrs given to us called the day, but not all of us make the best out of it. The same applies to the four, five or six year programme you are beginning today. These years are broken into different segments, the least of which is the semester even within the semester you have the continuous assessment period that marks another kind of segments. One thing you must know is any point you are in this segment places a yesterday and tomorrow behind and before you while that segment could be described as today. Hence we have the following:

                        FACTS ABOUT YESTERDAY

  • Everyday becomes yesterday
  • The beauty of yesterday lies in the occupation of today.
  • You cannot amend yesterday but can draw from yesterday for today
  • To be able to draw from yesterday, work on today

                                   TODAY OF LIFE

  • Today contributes to yesterday; today’s actions are stories tomorrow
  • Without today, there’s no tomorrow; no pain, no gain
  • Today is a bridge linking tomorrow: no matter how small it is
  • Tomorrow will always become today
  • Today becomes yesterday
  • Today draws from yesterday while tomorrow depends on today
  • Today is the product of yesterday and what you do today will shape your tomorrow.

                                                       TOMORROW OF LIFE

  • Tomorrow leaves us today
  • You cannot altogether function in tomorrow. Being alive puts a tomorrow ahead of you
  • Your tomorrow however becomes today when you realize your vision
  • Tomorrow begins today

                               *  TOMORROW BEGINS TODAY: PROPER

  • Tomorrow shrinks daily because today takes from it: yesterday therefore enlarges daily as it takes from  today
  • Today gives both the opportunity of what they become, hence tomorrow and yesterday are functions of today
  • Today though small, taking a pinch in span of life, but matters as it determines the quality of life: yesterday and tomorrow. Hence Today is a determinant factor for yesterday and tomorrow

The import of this is that a time well utilized is a capacity that will positively determine your tomorrow. So if you want to have rest in the future begin from today, for it is the quality of the foundation that determines the life span of the structure. Pastor Abioye once said the best time to do anything is not today or tomorrow but the best time was yesterday. He explained that “today is getting late and tomorrow may become impossible because things don’t get easier in the future for those who procrastinate.” Hence learn today (which will soon become your yesterday) to earn tomorrow, for your tomorrow begins today.  

Student to Student Relationship

One enduring reality about scholarship is the continued interaction of minds. This attests to the age long saying that: No man is an island of knowledge. We are thus created to interact for all around development. There is therefore the need for you to bear this in mind as you begin this journey. Two experience from my undergraduate years attest to this. I had always read on my own without a reading mate though I have a roommate from different department who when I see reading I often quickly pick my book and begin reading. Then reading was a sort of food and until I feel satisfied I hardly set hands on other things. The same applies to my roommate just as both of us wants to graduate with a very good result. Then I never knew the meaning of healthy competition until we parted for self apartment. It suddenly dawned on me that we have been trending a secret of success which our separation may affect. Consequently my grades dropped and I was all hears searching for other means to bouncing back. Then the idea of a reading mate from same department popped up. Straight away I went for one with whom I read for the remaining years on campus and the experience was splendid on my academic. I hence came to realize the beauty of having a reading mate and I have time and again recommended this for beginners on campus.

The reading mate venture

It works this way: you read, your partner reads differently but both of you meet to share what you have read. We all have blind spots and assimilate differently but having a sound reading mate helps overcome this. It also affords the opportunity to predict and answer questions that might come out in your exams. However, what is beyond your scope should be taken to other friends, teacher or discussed in class.

Further, the student relationship goes far beyond the school environment. Never look down on anybody and be ready to render help regardless the status of the one who needs it. The world as big as it is, is paradoxically very small. Thread friendly!!!

Further, bad communication they say corrupt good manners. Also, it is often said that ‘show me your friend and I will tell you the kind of person you are.’ You must be selective in choosing your friends. The type of friend you keep may determine your success or failure. You must also avoid any anti-social activity because a number of such had been seen as breeding ground for cultism. Above all, let your primary aim in this institution and the lord’s peace umpire your choice.

Student to Lecturer Relationship

According to Prof. Femi Mimiko, Vice Chancellor, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko:

The kind of relationship that should exist between the lecturer and the student should be a symbiotic one that is based on mutual benefit.

In other words, the student and lecturer are meant to depend on each other in order to achieve their goals. To be factual the absence of one makes the other useless. Touching on learning, an effective learning must be done under close tutelage. You must lean on someone who will teach, motivate, inspire, put a check on you and that is the lecturer.

They must be seen as our parents in order to fully get the best from them. It is germane to note that most lecturers accord seriousness to those who bring academic problems to them for clarification while such students even enjoy some other benefits like extra lessons and guidance. I call that fringe benefits – yours awaits you.

Also learn to appreciate and respect them because this is reciprocal. Walk up to them after the lecture to thank them for the impartation of knowledge. This makes them feel honoured and fulfilled being a lecturer and even more committed to their work. Such gesture puts one in good record for future benefit one may never expect from such lecturer.

I however like to make a statement at this juncture to our lecturers that the job for the lecturer goes beyond teaching the academic stuff. There is thus the need to engender an encouraging and enabling environment for the students. Students need motivation from the teacher as well as guiding them to actualizing their potential. Borne out of the teacher’s experience, she could say “Aduke you are good at this, Oladipupo you are really special at this. I want you to build on this aspect”. “Hey boy, don’t you think looking at it from this angle is better”, “Talk to me, you don’t seem being at your best these days Adetokunbo- can we talk over that in the office?” This builds the esteem of the student. That the student body is large is not an exception here. It is achievable because kind words are like explosives whose impact can hardly be fathomed. Let’s have a change of mind to our students and not only to the number of papers we want to write to climb up the ladder of our career- They are our tomorrow!

Self Discovery: The Life after School and the Nigerian Context

The Nigerian graduate’s prayer is to be gainfully employed immediately after school but unfortunately over the years our school system had turned out thousands with little percentage gainfully employed. That is why in recent time a number of schools had taken up entrepreneurial studies as a must for their students to bridge this lacuna of unemployment… there is however still much to be done as only few students employ or translate the skills to become entrepreneurs after school. I think there is a conscious need to review this initiative with provision of financial aid to spur would be entrepreneurs identified from school.

We cannot balk at the reality of self discovery and actualization of potentials. Scholarship parades ideas and the university environment I have discovered is a place where initiatives fly about only to be seen by those who are sensitive. Don’t under estimate your small ideas, treasure them and work on them. You might be unable to kick off with them while on campus but keep piling ideas towards its actualization. The Prospect, the platform upon which I am addressing you started far back on campus. The road wasn’t a rose strewn one anyway but with determination we ventured on.

The number one responsibility of man according to Pastor Abioye of Winners Chapel is the discovery of purpose.  There is thus no amount of time spent in achieving this feat that could be termed as wasted. The number one way is talking to your God who made you to lead you into His purpose for your life, then be ready to work. Preference is however still placed on studying and learning in this regard. Occasionally pick motivational and inspirational books from the shops; they will help broaden your horizon with what you can achieve and at times charge you with steps to get out of your sleeping mode. You also must begin to think big and this begins with the thoughts of having A’s in your courses. Some people believe thinking Big is an easy task, NO its not. It is taxing in nature because it calls for hard work, beginning with the strategies needed to achieve such, then launching into the task. If you don’t think big in today Nigeria (on the positive note) and have A CAN DO SPIRIT, in no time you will find yourself irrelevant because where you think is the peak in our knowledge driven society is the starting point for another.

In sum, whatever course you are set to study, please be informed that the skills and the knowledge thereof are very important. It may however not be a means to an end but it would go a long way in aiding whatever you eventually choose as an end.

GET THIS RIGHT, AND GET ALL RIGHT: THE GOD PLACE

On this new path, it is important to acknowledge God because with Him we have the wisdom and love we need for success. Some students because of the spectacular freedom only enjoyable within academic environment tend to drop the values that had over the years shaped their life. The school is part of your life and every second that count is a minus to what you know as lifetime. I had elsewhere described the university as the microcosm of our world (2007), meaning a small world in a bigger one. In other words, just as God is revered in the bigger world we ought to do the same in the smaller by acknowledging Him as the lord and source of whatever we are and can become. Let me tell you this that if you rely on your relationship with God, it will make you a more capable individual, who does his best and lets God do the rest. This is so because as the scripture says, the race is not for the swift but unto whom God has given the grace. Also pray always and trust in God as you begin the journey and give your life to Him because He owns it anyway and He will help you.

APPRECIATION

            To be grateful for the benefit received is the nature of all well born persons but one of the most detestable sins is ingratitude. I use this medium to say a big thank you to God for this privilege and the University Authority for giving me this opportunity and believing in my vision; may God bless FUTA in Jesus name. The following people cannot but be appreciated for their contribution to the success of this timely lecture: Dr Kayode Alese, Dean. Student Affairs Division, FUTA and his powerful team, for believing in me, Dipo Olukemi, Pastor Timi Afeni and Friends of THE PROSPECT for their unflinching support and advise, my Parents and siblings for their passionate interest in my vision, and lastly to all of you for taking your time to listen with a determination to becoming all you can from today. Thank you.

God bless FUTA and God bless you all!

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