Despite starting with what she termed a not-so-good result and was fast losing interest in giving her academics all it required, Adeniji Adeola
eventually graduated with first class, the grade she had always wanted. In this interview with TUNDE AJAJA, the 20-year-old who had 4.51 CGPA from the Department of Computer Science, BOWEN University, Iwo, Osun State in the 2015/2016 academic session talks about her journey through school and what kept her going
Do you recall what first attracted you to Computer Science?
I was interested in the idea that it made work a lot easier and it evolves on a daily basis. You get to explore the ideas you have on your mind and see them come to life. Computer Science is one field of study where you actually enjoy what you are doing and you require little physical effort or resources to achieve so much. These things attracted me to the course. Actually, I applied to study accounting. Upon resumption, I was informed that I could not study the course because I did not have any social science course in my West African Senior School Certificate Examination result, so I was offered Computer Science and Physics and solar energy, so I opted for computer science, which turned out to be very interesting. When I was young, at a point, I wanted to become a pilot, because I loved the idea of travelling around the world and experiencing other people’s culture. But in 2005, there were so many plane crashes that made being a pilot less interesting to me. That was the trajectory.
Since Computer Science was not what you chose initially, how easy was it for you to still make first class?
Having a first class was not as easy as I thought it would be. I realised I had to make conscious effort towards getting a first class. I had to forfeit some extracurricular activities, stayed up late to study and embarked on frequent researches. Despite all that, I think if one starts early and one is focused, it’s easier to make first class. I believe making first class is everybody’s dream. As such, I made up my mind to graduate with a first class, but when the first semester result was released, I was not too pleased with it, hence, I began to relent in my effort and general attitude to studying, and that affected my other grades. That was my disposition until my second year when I met this friend of mine, whose general commitment and passion served as a catalyst for reviving my seriousness in my academics. She helped and encouraged me to bounce back. So, I made first class in the second semester of my final year and I had a 5.0 GPA in my last semester in school. As such, it was not difficult sustaining first class in my final year, knowing full well that a slip could hamper my ultimate goal of having a first class.
What was your journey to the university like?
I have always been an average student, but I took things more seriously towards my WASSCE. I intensified my studying until reading became more interesting and fascinating to me. That was the foundation of my success. I gained admission to the university the year I graduated from secondary school. I gained admission to Bowen University and I had also applied to Obafemi Awolowo University but I was already in my first year before the admission list of OAU came out. On getting to the university, I had to adapt to doing things on my own and taking decisions on my own. I had to learn self-control, stand on my decisions and plan my time knowing that my decisions were the major determining factors of how my life was going to be. I was new to that and I’m glad I made good use of it.
What excites you most about Computer Science?
Computer science is intertwined with all fields of life. It has made improvements in virtually all fields of life and it’s advancing at a rapid rate on a daily basis. One cannot exhaust the areas of researches that can be done in computer science, from improving on the processor speed to advancing in artificial intelligence. I love how you can instruct the machine to perform a particular task and it does exactly what you instruct it to do. One is sure the computer is acting on the instruction it’s given as it cannot think on its own neither can it act on its own except it has been programmed to do so. That is one part I enjoy. It was fun for me to see something I wrote functioning properly, although most times it was frustrating to write codes and find out it’s not running properly because of an error, and you probably end up scattering the whole thing to find out it was just one semi-colon that was missing. Programming is one aspect of computer science that requires dedication, consistency, patience and constant practice and I enjoyed it because if one is interested in it, it’s fun, else it can be very frustrating.
Programming is said to provide solutions to many problems, national and organisational. In your view, why has this tool not been adequately deployed?
I think programming has not been effectively utilised because of the “sincerity” of it. If programming is properly deployed, it would reduce the dependency and the need to trust humans in most situations, and most organisations are not ready for that level of development. For instance, in an organisation where attendance is recorded manually, the information can be altered but if there is an application that automatically clocks one in, once you enter the office, then there is no way one can alter the information on the computer and this can be detrimental to late comers.
Looking at the speed with which many aspects of this course are being taught everywhere, what is the future of this course?
There are some basic parts of computer science that you learn about gradually, they are courses that you start in your first year and you build on that knowledge in subsequent years. One cannot gain the knowledge in few months, which underscores the need to study the course. Also, most times when applying for jobs, your degree certificate is required before the certificate for professional courses. Thus, I think it is still necessary for one to study the course, then add the professional courses to give one an edge.
Over time, in your view, would that not discourage some persons?
Of course, it would discourage some persons but anyone who considers it properly would realise that studying the course is a requirement that cannot be overlooked on the long run.
Was there any major decision you took about your academics that helped you eventually?
Yes, there was. In my final year, I decided that I was going to concentrate on reading my books rather than developing my programming skills, because I figured I could improve on my programming skills after school and that helped me to prioritise the activities I got involved in.
How often were you reading?
In my case, I had to read at almost every opportunity I had. I didn’t assign hours to reading, specifically. I studied when I felt there was need to do so and at other times I did engage in group discussions with my friends which were of great help to my meteoric rise towards my academic goal. During most of my free time, I would hang out with friends to discuss while at other times I would listen to music or watch movies. But my studies came first. I didn’t do any special thing to help me aside from asking for grace from God to excel in my endeavours as a student and working hard to achieve my goal. That is why I would ascribe my success to God’s grace over my life, hard work and determination to succeed.
Were there times you were skeptical about meeting up with your target of having a first class?
Yes, after my first semester in school and after the result of the first semester in my final year. I almost gave up because I felt it was no longer achievable and I thought no matter how much I dropped, I was still going to be on a second class upper and I was satisfied with that. But I spoke with some friends on how disappointed I was concerning the whole thing and I was advised that it was still possible; so I was determined to give it my best and last shot.
Were there times your parents rewarded you for your good performance?
Yes, they were always supportive throughout both financially and emotionally. At other times, they would grace me with their presence, and that really encouraged me and made me to feel very special. That was another source of encouragement which spurred me to do more and even better. Also, when my final result came out, my parents gave me some money to congratulate me. I won’t tell you the amount (laughs…).
Apart from academics, were you involved in other activities?
While in school, I was in the technical crew of my chapel, so I was involved in church activities.
How social were you?
I’m a naturally reserved and introverted person; however, I’m a bit playful especially when in the company of my friends but I rarely make friends. I’m not a very social person.
In what ways could Nigeria have benefitted from effective usage of the computer?
All over the world, Nigerians have been reputed for their incredible skills in various regards especially in the area of ICT. This could be of great benefit to a developing nation by developing highly sophisticated street surveillance cameras, GPS tracking devices, high and fast internet browsing facilities and developing programs to curb the high rate of internet hacking. Also, the use of computer programs in offices could stop the routine activities that are done on a daily basis and the level of paper work that is done in most organisations. Nigeria would be a better place if she could employ this tool and I believe the manpower is there. I think the knowledge of computer science can be used to reduce the crime of corruption in Nigeria. For instance, if organisations and companies can automate the process of payment for services and the process of dispensing money, it would reduce the rate at which funds are looted also. The electoral body, INEC, can introduce the use of electronic voting system to avoid cases of ballot box theft thereby making the voting more efficient and reliable. There is so much we can do. And to some extent, I think Nigeria under-utilises the many talents of ICT. There are so many mundane tasks that the knowledge of ICT can handle. For instance, the use of customer relationship management tools by organisations that deal with a large base of customers directly makes managing the staff less stressful and more accurate. But one finds that most organisations are not interested in automating their processes.
What were your most memorable moments?
My saddest moment in school was when I saw my result in the first semester of my first year; I was very disappointed and discouraged. My happiest moment was when I saw my final result indicating that I had the first class I so much desired. I was surprised and excited.
Where would you like to work?
I would love to work with a company like Google, more so that the company is into various aspects of computer science; it’s not every firm you get to experience various aspects of computer science. Most companies major on one aspect of computer science.
What will you say to students who also desire excellence?
My advice to students is that they should realise that with determination, discipline and hard work, they can achieve the goals they set for themselves. Also, God is the giver of good success, so they should always remember God in all they do.