Twenty-nine-year-old Ayodele Daniel Dada emerged Best Graduating Student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) at the 2014/2015 academic session’s convocation recently, with a record-setting 5:00 CGPA. A native of Ekiti State, Ayodele is the first student in the history of the 54-year-old institution to achieve such a feat. He confessed to not being an ‘indoor person’ even if he did not let socializing make him lose focus. Interestingly, he was also awarded the University of Lagos Alumni Association prize and received N500,000 naira cheque, instead of the usual N100,000 others had received in the past. He narrated his grass to grace story to Daily Trust.
How do you feel emerging UNILAG’s best graduating student with an all-time record?
Ayodele Daniel Dada: It is a great day for me and my family and I give all glory to God Almighty. The reality is just dawning on me, what it really means to emerge as the best overall student at this stage.
DT: Can you give us background on your educational progression?
Dada: I had my primary education at Agape Baptist College, Surulere, and my secondary school education at Hopebay College also in Surulere, but did not proceed to the university immediately, due to some reasons. After my secondary school, it took me a while to decide on what I wanted to do but eventually, I read a book that made me see how psychology can be applied in real-life. It captured my imagination and I decided that I was going to devote my time to Psychology.
DT: Is any one of your parents a psychologist?
Dada: No. My dad is an accountant-turned-pastor while my mum is a teacher. When I decided I was going to study psychology, I spent three months preparing for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and I really studied hard for it and I wrote the examination, confident that I did well only to hear later that my result was seized. I was devastated. That was in 2011.
They said I cheated or so. I felt sad but I took it as fate. I initially wanted to go through the complaining procedure but it didn’t really work out because it was taking too long. I really wanted to resume as quickly as I could and then that was when I took the Diploma option, the foundation programme. That was how I came into UNILAG.
DT: Considering the route you passed to earn your degree and your humble background, how easy was it to fund your education?
It was challenging because of the expenses. I worked a bit with my uncle. I did a bit of sales jobs selling computer accessories for some time. I also did some tutoring, I was teaching some people trying to at least make ends meet for myself and I didn’t stop that even when I started my programme at UNILAG. I was responsible for my daily expenses, except on one or two occasions.
I had to plan my time such that it would not affect my study. I tutored just to survive. Before I was able to get on board with the foundation programme, I had to get money from several sources. There were quite a few family friends who were very helpful, they really came in and stood in for me because I could not take the bill myself. I was ready to borrow this money because I was sure that once I was done with this programme, I would pay them back.
DT: In the course of your study, were you so sure of scoring 5:00 CGPA and were there times you panicked you may not be able to achieve set objectives?
Dada: My fear was in my Diploma days when people used to tell me my name was written in pencil. But I do tell people that they need to understand that we did that (came in through diploma) because of some certain circumstances, it was not as if we had all the money to come and spend. So I started the programme, kept on going through it and I was really driven to succeed. Apart from that, I began to nurse the ambition of obtaining CGPA of five points when I saw the CGPA of the overall graduating student for the 2013/2014 academic session, Pelumi Akorede, who graduated with a CGPA of 4.96.
DT: What were the strategies you adopted to achieve your feat?
Dada: Nothing unusual, aside the fact that I studied my books as I should while also conforming to university, faculty and departmental regulations. Though this could be difficult, but it paid off. I adapted to whatever was needed at the time. Take for example, I have a policy of never studying at night but, sometimes I had to change that based on the situation because I worked all day, then I got home late and I’m tired. There’s no way I could study under that fatigued condition, so I would just get home, relax and get up IN the middle of the night to read.
DT: Are you in any relationship?
Dada: No. I realised that most of those who achieved the strongest grades in their schools were single at the time. And I was able to identify with it because for me, when I go into things I go into them fully. And when I’m in a relationship I want to be able to at least devote time to it and time was one of my major challenges.
DT: Do you see yourself joining academia?
Dada: I am strongly considering that. Already, I have penchant for teaching and assisting young psychologists, and loved listening, asking questions and learning from anybody. Of course, I would be going in for my Doctorate degree and be a professor of Psychology but most especially to help improve the education system of the country.