iyosayi14 Reflections Leave a Comment

Fresh out of secondary school and straight into the university courtesy the then newly introduced post jamb test. We were the first set of students to be admitted via such test. I came into school, registered and it was time for studies. Like most ambitious fresh students I had my eyes on the top prize; graduating with a first class. I believed that with a lot of hard work and God’s help it was attainable, though I had my doubts considering the caliber of persons in my department. In first year we were over a hundred in my department, but at final year we became seventy-something due to reasons like transfer to other departments, change of institution by some or change of faculty amongst other reasons. I was in the most populated department out of the six departments in the faculty and most of them had intimidating pume and jamb scores. Mine was nothing to compare with theirs.
Hundred level first semester, hmm…boy was I lost? I had no life to say the least. The only persons I talked to in class were those I met in the temporary hostel. It was just me and my books. I was either in the room reading or in class reading or receiving lectures. Most of the times I ever went to fellowship was when people from fellowships came to invite me to church. I can’t remember how many fellowships I visited then before finally settling in Christian fellowship international in my second semester.
The courses for first semester seemed relatively easy as it was mostly the same thing I had done in secondary school but my results proved otherwise. I was heartbroken the day I saw my first semester result, though grateful I had no carry over. Even when I had not yet taken the God factor in my academics seriously and with the right understanding, He had started working his miracles. I remember entering the all for physics 111 exam with bad health, I wrote the exam with speed and didn’t bother going through but God didn’t let me fail that course.
My result both first and second semester was buttered with a lot of B’s, far from what I expected. But God used that to help me refocus and rearrange my priorities. I told myself I was never going to indulge in any form of examination malpractice throughout my stay in the university. Then in secondary school, I had this circle of friends during tests and exams we’d help each other by telling ourselves the answers we didn’t know. Well, after writing my jamb examination without anyone’s help and passing the post jamb exams also I realized with God’s help I could actually write any exam myself. Then came my greatest temptation in my second semester exam (maths 123). Mathematics, hmm… the course I hated so much I never had the patience to study it. It was the only subject I failed in secondary school (jss 2 and ss2 2nd terms respectively). Here I was in the university faced with the nightmare again. I remember in the hall I went completely blank. I counted the answers I was sure of, they were just thirteen, that’s forty six over hundred and that would definitely give me a beautiful F.
I looked around, the invigilators were far away. I fought myself so hard not to ask the girl sitting by me till I finally submitted. I went to the hostel sad, believing I had just recorded my first carry over. I counted it a big miracle the day I saw my results and found out I had an E in the course. I didn’t care, I had passed it and I wouldn’t be going through the nightmare of writing the course again.
My C.G.P.A for hundred level really brought my hopes down, especially as I put a lot of effort in reading and preparing for the exams. I was not even among the top 50 in my class. I had a lot of B’s and just one A at the end of the first year. Not even in the GST courses which every Tom, Dick and Harry had A’s in. Quite a number of persons had five A’s at the end of the year thanks to the GST courses, but there I was with just one A. I was broken hearted and dejected. I had three E’s in three 3 credit courses (maths 123, chemistry 121 and chemistry 122). Just one E in a three credit course could bring down someone’s G.P drastically but I had three! My C.G.P.A was far below my expectation. It was a second class lower C.G.P.A. Academically I was a nobody in class, I guess socially too. Making a second class upper began to seem like an impossible mission.
Two hundred level came and I decided to change. I became regular in church though I still didn’t go for weekly services then till later on. I began to loosen up and started interacting with a few classmates. I read whenever I had the strength to read. I just wanted to graduate with a comfortable second class upper. I was not even dreaming of a four point G.P because it felt like an uphill task.
I stopped reading during the infamous ‘them don paste am’ era, that was close to the 2007 elections which was followed immediately with about two months strike by ASUU. I utilized the strike period well, going to school each day to read. When school resumed session, I was through reading I didn’t even have to go to night class. I revised each day on my bed after all I was not after a first class, just a comfortable second class upper. I still held on to my resolution not to cheat or ask anyone in the examination hall for answers. I found a comfortable seat at the front of the exam hall, just by the door which I sat on for most of my exams till I graduated. That seat later became well known as Princely’s exam seat. During later years, colleagues and lecturers teased me saying maybe I had written expo on the seat or jazzed it.
The only challenging course then was CSC (paschal programming). That course was abstract and weird to say the least. Heaven knows I didn’t know what I shaded in the hall that day. Results for the first semester two hundred level were released but CSC wasn’t released. My result brought a beautiful smile to my face. I had A’s and B’s. This time the A’s were more. Second semester was a lot better. I opened up to more classmates and made new friends. I started going for weekly services and joined a unit in fellowship. There was hope.
Second semester ending I got involved in a little gossip girl situation between a new friend of mine, his girlfriend and one of her ‘friend’. That brought out my leg in class and made me known to certain peeps in class. Well I paid for it with my grades. A night to one of my exams I was busy exchanging text messages just to expose the culprit instead of reading. That was an A course but I ended up having a B.
Looking back, I would say I was a complete student. I had all the grades from A to F. Even the two types of missing result, I had them. First missing result was recorded in two hundred level second semester when my result for the course wasn’t pasted on the result board so I had to meet my course adviser who then searched the raw scores and found my grade. The typist had omitted it. The second missing result was in three hundred level first semester when my result was never found so I had to re-write the course again in my fourth year.
At the end of my second year I had to meet my course adviser to check my paschal programming result and I expected to have an E or a D since that was what most people had in that odd course we all knew nothing about. I wasn’t expecting an F, after all my name was listed amongst the successful students in the result summary pasted on the board. I was shocked when my course adviser told me I had an F. I couldn’t believe it. I argued with him till he eventually showed me my raw score- 32. All that was on my mind that day was how I was going to prepare for the course that seemed to be written in Arabic. How on earth was one supposed to understand programming without a computer to practice with? I was troubled, but little did I know that true to God’s word, things were working out for my good. That was my only carry over course throughout my university education, but boy! It’s one carry over I thank God for always. The weird course was changed to a much easier course of which I wrote in fifteen minutes tops and came out with a beautiful result. Talk about beauty from pain. Then the course was returned back to paschal the next year after I had written the simple course. Indeed my academics was in God’s hands. My final C.G.P.A was a second class upper; actually it was a four pointer.
Three hundred level, I joined Fellowship of Agricultural Christian Students and became the editor in chief after serving as the assistant editor. I made more friends in class. Life was beginning to make sense as an undergraduate. I resumed night class reading. Things were awesome academically but I was going through serious personal issues. My academics were indeed in God’s hands and He never let my personal issues affect my studies. Emotionally I was a mess, trying so hard to figure things out and deal with moods wings, depression and other serious crap that was eating me up slowly.
My first semester result blew me away. I remember vividly how I shouted the day I set my eyes on the result board. It was much more than I had expected or hoped for. AGR311, a statistics course which scared the living day light out of so many of us, I had an A even after answering only two questions correctly and the other two questions I made serious mistakes in and left a lot of blank spaces. I also had an A in biochemistry, of which I left the exam hall depressed because I felt I had written crap. I remember how I had to stop reading a night before the biochemistry exam so I could attend mid week service hoping to continue reading after church but I couldn’t because it rained heavily so I ended up on my bed. The exam was slated for afternoon, so I spent all morning cramming the course. In the exam hall it was like my brain was all jammed up. I wrote whatever came to mind mixing up information. In fact I felt I wrote a total mess, so you can imagine my surprise when I had an A.
I was so elated by my result that it took me several minutes before I realized a result was missing. That was my second missing result case. Despite all the letters I wrote and various visits paid to the lecturer in charge of the course, nothing was done to rectify it so I had to re-write the course the following year. It was a blessing to me. I know that with what I wrote the first time, I probably would have had a B but I ended up having an A after rewriting it.
At the end of three hundred level, I had my first 1st class C.G.P.A. I was humbled at how far God had brought me from amongst the bottom of the class to amongst the top. At the end of that year I was among the top five going by that year’s G.P.A but cumulatively I was among the top 20. God was lifting me up academically and my hope for a second class upper turned into that of a first class. I became ambitious and wanted more.
Then I lost it. I began to focus so much on attaining a first class. I began making excuses and held on to the theory that since secondary school I always did better in the essay section of each exam than in the objective section, that’s why I didn’t do so well in hundred level as it was all objective and part of two hundred level exams were also objective, but from three hundred level it was essay all the way.
Four hundred level came and results were released after the completion of our field practical training (F.P.T) year. We travelled to various out stations throughout the second semester after spending the first in school. At the end of the year we wrote sixteen exams on the various aspects of the fpt year. By now I was friends with a larger proportion of my class. I became known as ‘the crammist’. I became overtly ambitious, determined to do my best to make a first class. People saw me as a scholar but I didn’t see myself as such because I never forgot where I was coming from. I had the fourth best result in my department that year, another first class C.G.P.A and I was happy and the desire for a first class burned even more. I stopped going for weekly services, dedicated most of my time to reading and I didn’t have a social life.
Five hundred level, my final year…the best year I had in school, by now I was friends with almost everyone, even some people I never thought I’d ever talk with, I became friends with them and I realized how much I had lost those years I kept to myself. The guy who was once relatively unknown and nobody academically was now mentioned amongst the ‘candidates’ (a term coined for those who had the possibility of making a first class.). I was no more the hermit of the class. I had gone through drastic change and the McSteamy persona was born. To say the least, final year was my best year in school even though some of my lecturers tried to ruin it for me with their office politics.
The pressure was on first semester five hundred level. Everyone knew I didn’t talk or cheat during test and exams. The temptation of cheating was not there. It was me and God. By then my mood swings and depression was common knowledge so people joked that I would commit suicide if I didn’t make a first class. Each time they did, inside of me I laughed and felt good because I never even dreamt I’d be amongst the tip of my class after my first year or even get close to making a first class. So yes, they could joke all they wanted. That I was close to making it was enough miracle in itself.
Two courses FOW511 and AEE5114, well AEE514 was the greater nightmare. We heard all sorts of talk about the lecturer and how hard it was to even get a C in his course. At times I wished I entered school with the previous set because theirs seemed all so easy. They had good lecturers and their class was not so competitive academically unlike mine. I did my final reading for AEE514 exam the night before the exam day with my night class mates. The pressure to pass the course was so much that night I could hardly understand a thing I read. I closed my book, went out into the dark and prayed. I went back to the class, packed my books and went to sleep. Early the next morning I went to the class and began cramming the entire course which was to be written that evening. I took some major risks FOW511 also. I also crammed the entire course the morning of the exam. God’s grace and mercy was indeed on me, I didn’t forget anything I had crammed. Those that cram would testify how difficult and time wasting cramming can be. Thanks to the flawed educational system we have in Nigeria where a lecturer expects you to write down what he gave to you the same way, word for word, comma for comma, full stop for full stop. Those that read to understand had B’s while those that crammed had A’s. That was what they wanted so I had to give it to them.
The five hundred level first semester examinations were the easiest I ever wrote but thanks to office politics and the so called quality control, our grades were slashed. By first semester beginning we had about nine candidates and I counted myself blessed to be among them, but by the end of first semester it was just four left and at the end of second semester just two were awarded first class after all the grade slashing.
When I lost the ‘candidacy’ at the end of first semester, I didn’t bother again. In a weird way I actually felt free. My life became easier. I knew I was a winner deep down. God brought me up to this awesome height I once dared not dream of. I remember a friend told me she was surprised I didn’t kill myself. I laughed in reply and explained to her how my journey began and how grateful I was to even be counted among the candidates. I hardly read for my second semester exams. I felt there was nothing more to lose or anything else to gain. Even if I had straight D’s in my second semester I was going to still graduate with not just a second class upper but a four pointer C.G.P.A. That was the worst case scenario. I hardly read or went to night class. A friend once said to me, “no one would believe that Princely can become this unserious.” I was felt free and couldn’t care less. I even warned my closet pal then who was still a candidate to stay away from me as I would affect him negatively and advised he became reading mates with the other three candidates.
Results were released and as expected grades were slashed but I didn’t care anymore. I remember the last course I wrote (land economics and rural sociology), it was a miracle that I had an A in it because I barely read for the land economics part and as the very last paper I wrote it with speed. I wanted to graduate quickly and be done with higher institution. I didn’t even bother to cross check my work. I wanted to be through with UNIBEN. Before the final results were released I learnt that the number of A’s in the course was low because most people didn’t do well in the land economics part, the very part of the course I didn’t read well! Still I had my miracle and got an A in the course. That year I had my third 1st class C.G.P.A despite my unseriousness second semester.
I can proudly say by God’s grace that all my exams were written with God on my side and I never asked for any sort of help from anyone in any exam. I remember in 300 level during biochemistry practical, what I did kind of caused a stir amongst a few friends who knew what I did. We were told to identify lab equipments and there was a funny looking centrifuge, it actually looked like a toilet. I sat for minutes trying to figure out exactly what it was, just then my eyes fell on my neighbour’s script accidentally and I saw the answer. I wrote it down thanking my lucky stars but soon afterwards my conscience began pricking me. So I cancelled it and submitted like that. Well, to cut the long story short, just that one answer didn’t stop me from having an A.
In hundred level a final year carry over student begged me to teach her botany in the exam hall, after much pleading from her I finally taught her as I felt if she spilled because of me that was one cross I really wasn’t ready to bear. During the course of the exam, she pointed out a mistake I had made in one of my answers; I thanked her and corrected it hoping she hadn’t led me astray. I was so happy I did teach her after all she helped me too. But on getting to the hostel, I don’t know why, but immediately after confirming from my text book that she didn’t lead me astray the next thing I did was to open my bible and behold he passage my eyes fell on was ‘don’t rejoice in evil’. That was the moment I decided I would always seat in front in any examination to avoid the temptation of having to talk to anyone.
There were times certain courses frustrated me, times I felt like dropping out of school. Yes, there were times I really wanted to drop out of school for real. It wasn’t easy at all, but God led me to wonderful friends and classmates who helped me out in their individual special ways at one point or the other. Thanks guys, you guys helped a lot to lift so much weight off of my shoulders.
Even though I didn’t make a first class, God showed Himself mighty in my academics and I knew it was Him all the way. From amongst the bottom of the class He brought me up and I graduated amongst the top ten of my department. He lifted me so high. Even times when I really strayed away especially the McSteamy era, He still was faithful and despite all the office politics, grade slashing and project score magical reduction and the infamous quality control I graduated with a C.G.P.A of 0.2 shy of a first class. Indeed it was God all the way, His ways are so much more higher than ours and I know he is taking me somewhere because the thoughts he has for me are thoughts of peace and not of evil to bring me to an expected end and indeed all things are working together for my good. These He proved over and over in my academics even times I felt certain courses where going the wrong way they always came out better than I thought.
I have learnt from my experiences academically and one thing I know for sure is that God never fails; He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all what we can ever ask or think. God made my reality even better and greater than what I dared dreamed of, and for that I would forever remain grateful. On His wings indeed did I fly to the top, soaring high heights I never once though I could attain.

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