For 21-year-old Korede Akinpelumi, mounting the podium to receive academic prizes is like treading on familiar terrain. Perhaps, winning laurels and prizes seems to be another fitting middle name for the Ondo State-born chemical engineer.
No wonder, last Wednesday during the University of Lagos convocation, Akinpelumi repeated what he knows how to do best. He not only emerged the best overall graduate for the 2013/2014 session; more than any other student did, he mounted the podium on many occasions, shaking hands with and embracing principal officers of the school, including the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Rahamon Bello, and the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council of the university, Prof. Jerry Gana.
Among the academic diadems he took away are the Vice Chancellor’s Prize; Dean of Engineering Prize; New Era Foundation Prize; UNILAG Parent Forum Prize and the Prof. Ayo Ogunye Scholarship Prize.
Others are the Elumelu Legacy Prize; UNILAG Alumni Association Prize; Prof. W Harmon Ray Prize, and the late Prof. Adetokunbo Sofoluwe Prize.
Did he just emerge a shining star suddenly at UNILAG? To this inquiry, the youngster, who scored a Cumulative Grade Point Average of 4.96 out of five points, said ‘No’ with a touch of modesty. According to him, right from his primary to secondary education, it had always been a harvest of academic successes.
“At the secondary level, I participated in many science competitions for which I represented my school. I participated in the Cowbell Mathematics contest at the state level in SS1. I won a silver medal at the NMC Physics Olympiad, Lagos State level, and proceeded to represent the state at the national level in Abeokuta. I was the winner of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Science Quiz Competition, right from the state, zonal to the national final, which held in Abuja in 2008. I also received awards and a full tertiary scholarship from NNPC for this feat.
“In 2009, I represented and took Lagos State to victory at the National JETS Competition, which held in Yobe State. I won individual awards in Mathematics and Physics and was the second overall best in the JETS competition for the year. I also received a letter of commendation from the then Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs. Sarah Sosan, for my exploits in representing the state at various competitions for the year.”
The valedictorian, who gave an insight into the secret of his success, said his late medical doctor father, Abiodun, and civil servant mother, Omokehinde, provided the needed elixir for his “solid academic foundation.”
He added, “My parents did an excellent job of instilling academic discipline in us (their children), I remember having to read many novels right from a tender age while others were playing ball or riding bicycles round the compound. Of course, I also played as a child, but I was quick to understand the essence of a good reading habit and developed so much interest in reading.
I was also lucky to have had such an excellent foundation right from my secondary school education and so it was just a matter of building on that solid foundation.”
Besides this initial parental guidance, Akinpelumi said, he did every other thing any good student should do, adding that he identified early enough a workable reading pattern on campus.
He explained, “For example, I could read efficiently both in the day and overnight. So if my schedule for the day was tight, I would shift my reading to the night. Also, I noticed I had more flair and focus while analysing calculative problems as opposed to reading up theoretical concepts. So, I always tried to intercept my long reading hours with 15 minutes of analytical calculations so I could stay sharp for the next hour. This was usually my strategy while reading overnight.
“Overall, I believe what matters most is for every student to explore various reading approaches and patterns and identify early enough, that which applies best to him/her under various situations.”
On whether he identified with girls or was just a bookworm, Akinpelumi, who said that he enjoyed quality social life on campus, added however that he expressed this within the confines of religious activities.
“As a worker and Assistant Secretary in the Redeemed Christian Fellowship, I had meetings every day and so had most of my friends amid these people. In fact, I had many friends and even felt more comfortable with the female folk. However, as regards courtship which I term as relationship with marriage in view, I am very single and not in one.”
To show really that he was not a bookworm, the valedictorian noted that he participated in many sporting activities on campus. According to him, he won the gold medal at the VC Chess Competition and played football as a centre back, helping his class and department to win medals.
The Chelsea football enthusiast added, “I was the Assistant General Secretary of the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers in my third year. I was the Head of Academics and Resource Team, a sub-committee where I worked with 17 others in inter-phasing between the students and the Head of Department in ensuring our basic academic needs were met. We also organised tutorial and software training classes across all levels. So, I was involved in quite a lot of activities which was the main reason why I had to limit most of my reading to the night.”
Akinpelumi, who wants to further his studies with the aim of teaching and making quality research in Chemical Engineering, frowns on sorting and exam malpractice.
He declared, “The school rules are very clear on this. It is illegal. I personally think it is sad that students indulge in these fraudulent acts. The reasons span from low self-confidence in one’s ability to poor reading culture. However, regardless of what reason it may be, it is definitely wrong.”
Article Credit: The Punch
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