With 4.9 Cumulative Grade Point Average from the Department of Mass Communication, Blessing Bamidele emerged as the overall best graduating student of Samuel Adegboyega University, Ogwa, Edo State for the 2018/2019 academic year. She tells SOLA SHITTU how she was able to achieve the feat
How do you feel as the best graduating student of Samuel Adegboyega University?
I’m actually very excited and overwhelmed. It’s a great privilege to be able to set such academic record. I am equally grateful to God and my lecturers.
What made you to study Mass Communication?
I wanted to be an On-Air Personality (radio presenter) and a host on TV to anchor national programmes but that changed along the line.
What changed it?
In my final year, I realised I could be better as an academic. I had the push to go back to the classroom to play a role in training future media persons. Also, students get special training at the Department of Mass Communication, Samuel Adegboyega University. The lecturers spend time with individual students in the classroom and the studios/laboratories. They would make you feel that the world is out for you to conquer. We were taught by the very best.
You must have heard that even our immediate past Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Benard Aigbokhan, was the immediate past President of the Nigerian Economic Society and a consultant with World Bank. My Head of Department, Dr. Ekwe Okwudiri, is a consultant with UNICEF and other international bodies. So you could see the crop of people that shaped us.
What was your routine like?
It was a normal routine with a lot of energy channelled towards education and religious activities, more than any other thing.
What was your reading schedule like?
I usually preferred to read alone because that way, I could meditate and understand better. However, there were times I had to read with course mates and friends and I must admit that those times were helpful too.
What was your social life like?
I’m the kind of person who prefers to stay indoors and make friends on social media rather than meeting people face to face. And I don’t exactly like parties; although, I started attending dinner parties when I was in my third year in school. I deliberately tried to meet new students, especially those of the opposite sex and talk to them. Most times, they also requested my attention and I granted such requests on many occasions.
Are you in a relationship?
I was in a relationship once but it wasn’t exactly helpful so I had to walk out of it.
Did you at any time hold any leadership role in the school or in your department?
Yes, I was the Editor-in-Chief of the departmental newspaper in my final year. I was also a member of the department’s Electoral Committee in my third year in school. I equally headed a research cluster in the department. I was an executive in the Bible Study Unit, Evangelism Unit and Restoration Students’ Fellowship. There was a time I joined the Debate Society although I wasn’t really functional there and the group only met when there was a competition.
At what point did it occur to you that you were going to graduate with a first-class degree?
I think I was in my second year when my CGPA was already getting steady. I felt if I could become more serious, graduating with a first-class degree could be achieved but I was not sure I would be the best graduating student. However, when I was in 400 level, the reality started to set in. At that time, my CGPA was 4.9 already. I was afraid that politics and other factors might affect me. However, I was sure of the integrity of the university leadership at every level. The department was led by a very disciplined man, Dr. Okwudiri Ekwe, who was never willing to sacrifice merit for anything. In fact, when the going got tougher, there were assurances in every quarter for me to be more focused and dedicated to my studies.
Did you have any role model while in school?
Yes, my sister was my role model. She also graduated with a first-class degree; she was one of the people who inspired me to graduate with a first-class degree too. I also have to admit that I admire the courage and intelligence of most of my lecturers. They are the very best.
What do you think about entrepreneurship?
It’s something I really like because I desire to be independent early in life. So, I still intend to be a businesswoman. I plan to acquire the necessary skills to develop myself in the fashion industry. Make no mistake, young Nigerians must understand that the statistics don’t look good, so we must create jobs for ourselves.
How did your parents influence you academically?
My parents contributed a great deal to my education. Other than financial support, they were there for me morally and academically. In fact, I owe my getting a first-class degree to my father. He always encouraged me and told me not to settle for anything less than a first-class degree.
What are your plans for the future?
I look forward to a future where I can influence many lives for good and also serve as many people as possible. For example, shortly before I graduated, I led a team of students to sew school uniforms for some poor pupils in Ogwa Community Primary School. We also provided many hand-washing facilities for the primary school in the host community. I also plan to venture into the academic world so I’ll be going for my master’s degree immediately after concluding my National Youth Service Corps programme. I also want to create jobs and influence my generation. Within the next 10 years, I want to create at least 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Are you saying your emergence as the best graduating student has changed your initial plans for life?
Yes, I was planning to start a career in the public relations/advertising field but on a closer look, I’m already considering a career in academia and entrepreneurship.
Would you still like to engage in media practice?
If by media practice you mean journalism or broadcasting, I do not plan to engage in it as a career but I could be a freelancer. I know I have a special interest in writing. I will also train media personnel.
What do you think of traditional media at a time when the social media is gaining ascendency?
The traditional media still remains a reliable source of information and it doesn’t seem to be losing relevance even with the ascendency of the social media. The major advantage the social media has over the traditional media is the fact that digitalisation has taken over and everyone has suddenly become a journalist. However, the basics of journalism and the news values being held by the traditional media cannot be overemphasised. Journalism in Nigeria needs to take a newer and better approach and start addressing salient issues affecting the nation.
What is your advice to students who want to be like you?
I have a lot to say to them but I will just like to tell them that it may or will look rough along the way but determination is important. Even the Bible says the ending is better than the beginning thereof. The fruits of academic work might taste sour at first but in the end, you realise that it’s really sweet and worth all the stress.
Also, I’ll like to seek the indulgence of every student to take their studies seriously. Every assignment and test counts. This is something I’ve always told students close to me and I’m repeating it. Take out time to create a reading timetable and stick to it. Set goals for yourself at the beginning of the semester and run with that goal. Another thing is that not everyone can handle relationship and studies together, so if your relationship is taking a negative toll on your studies, be smart enough to let it go. There’s time for everything. Finally, also read and pray and let God help you.