Ogboye speaks on her experiences in LASU – how she attained academic excellence despite the setbacks, including how she was robbed and stabbed by an armed robber in her third year.
Mariam Ogboye emerged as the best graduating student with a 4.71 CGPA in the last academic session at the Lagos State University, School of Communication, breaking a record that has stood for over a decade. The faculty had not produced a first-class graduate since the 2010/2011 academic session.
In this interview with Yossy Info Africa, 23-year-old Ogboye speaks on her experiences in LASU – how she attained academic excellence despite the setbacks, and how she was robbed and stabbed by an armed robber in her third year.
YIA: Tell us, despite knowing that the faculty had not produced a first-class graduate in over a decade, what did it take you to attain this feat?
Ogboye: During my high school days, my dad used to read me stories of the best-graduating students across different universities and he wanted me to graduate with a first-class degree. So, he first inspired me to achieve such a feat. Since then, I’ve always dreamt of it but I never knew it would eventually be a record-breaking feat.
In my first year, I knew I needed a strong start so I constantly reminded myself that: “the difference between an A student and a B student is the extra effort they put into their work”. So, I worked relentlessly hard and studied for an average of six hours daily during the week. After my classes, I used to go to the Library to study. I equally went to school on weekends too to study for a minimum of 4 hours. I greatly benefited from the mentorship of Titilope Arowolo – who was then a 300level student. She taught me how to study for exams, answer questions, and time myself in the exam hall, My study notes were always full of candle waxes because I made use of candles to study at night.
After my first year, I became actively involved in extracurricular activities which reduced the number of hours I used to study. My second and third years heralded a new phase of self-discovery – when I met Pelumi Olugbenga – who changed my mindset about service and leadership.
It was also the period I embraced social impact and learned selflessness. This period was my most memorable time as an undergraduate. It was during this period I understood the true meaning of selflessness and I became committed to impacting other students’ academic growth in the little ways I could. I strongly believe that: “if you are not impacting your immediate environment, then you’re not living”.
YIA: Could you describe in detail the things, specifically extracurriculars, that took your time during your stint at the Lagos State University?
Ogboye: I was the Welfare Director of the Communication Students Association (COSA) at my 300 level and the Academic Coordinator of the Potters Revolution Movement Campus Christian Fellowship founded by Pastor Mavis Orji.
I was equally selected as a fellow by the United Nations Academic Impact’s Millennium Campus Network where I worked with Adebiyi Kehinde and Oladimeji Shotunde. Through these platforms, I was able to work on a project called ‘Project 5-Up‘, whose aim was to fulfil a burden of service.
The Project provided academic support for students who struggled academically across different faculties and were on the verge of being withdrawn from the university due to low CGPAs. The feedback I received after each semester brought joy to my soul. Those students struggling were eventually able to find their feet again. We also had students with perfect GPAs. I dare say that this was the greatest feat I achieved in LASU.
Lastly, I was the Deputy Media Coordinator for the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) Awareness Campaign Tour in LASU and I was a member of the Media and Publicity Committee for the 2019 LASUSU Intervarsity Debate Competition. I was also selected for the Hesselbein Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh.
YIA: Are there mentors and inspirations to whom you owe a part of your muse?
Ogboye: Yes, I have a lot of people that I am grateful for. My parents, who nurtured and ignited the giant star in me and my siblings: Olabisi; Adunola; Akinola; and Olakunle – constantly cheered me on. Pelumi Olugbenga encouraged and supported me to look beyond academics and embrace community service.
I am also grateful for my current boss and life coach: Mrs Dayo Benjamins-Laniyi who is the epitome of excellence, kindness, and service. I am deeply grateful to all my lecturers: Professor Lai Oso, Professor Alawode, Professor Rotimi Olatunji, Dr. Omolade Atofojomo, and so on, who all went beyond the call of duty to make sure I maximized my academic potential.
Tolani Alli (the photographer to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo) is also an icon I look up to. My friends were also very supportive.
YIA: Aside from academic materials, what other books read during your undergraduate days would you say helped you to thrive?
Ogboye: I enjoyed reading books on the success stories of women breaking barriers across the world. I also derived inspiration from movies like ”The Three Idiots”. I was inspired by the lifestyle of Rancho who was a carefree and intelligent student. I was also inspired by Akeelah in Akeelah and the Bee.
YIA: What were the major setbacks you encountered?
Ogboye: Growing up, my family struggled financially at some point because both of my parents are retirees. To raise funds as an undergraduate, I worked multiple side jobs. I also ventured into shoemaking in my final year. I am eternally thankful to my parents for making enormous sacrifices and pouring all they have into me and my siblings.
I can never forget the day I was stabbed by an armed robber on my way tonight reading. I woke up late and I needed to study for my exams the next day – because there was no electricity in my hostel and my phone battery was very low. So, I decided to head to my church (They provide electricity for students to study during exams).
While at the front of my street’s gate, my bag was taken by an armed robber who stabbed me twice before fleeing with it. I struggled to get back to my hostel and I was assisted to the hospital by my hostel mates. I was bleeding profusely, and I thought I was going to die. I had an exam to write in less than 24hours and I wrestled with the pain of an injury and a failed preparation for an important exam.
The nurse told me that I had a close shave with death because the knife was close to my vein but luckily: it did not touch it. The following day, one of my lecturers visited me and asked if I did not mind taking the exam since I was awake. I agreed to write it and I went to school. On my way to school, I began to have a panic attack and I started to ask myself questions like What if I fail? What if I don’t earn an A grade? The Holy Spirit told me I could, and I went ahead with the exam. I wrote what I could remember, and I submitted my exam script.
A few weeks later, it was announced that 100 students had failed that particular exam, and I was frightened to my bones. I still remember the day the results were released, I earned an A grade, and I gave all the glory to God for His faithfulness.
YIA: What professional goals do you have planned?
Ogboye: I plan to further my education in the future. My goal is to work at the intersection of media, governance, and international affairs.
YIA: What advice would you give to undergraduates that you think would help inspire them in both their academic and intellectual endeavour?
Ogboye: To current and future undergraduates, set goals and have a plan that will guide you. Your life after school will be largely determined by the choices you make as a student. One of my favorite quotes from Pelumi Olugbenga is: “The best way to shape your future is to start preparing for it now”.
My personal experience as a LASU student also taught me that there are no alternatives to hard work and discipline. Most importantly, trust in God and don’t ever give up when you are faced with setbacks. Keep improving because the best is yet to come.
Always strive to impact your community in your little ways – because: making an impact is making a living and you have not lived until you have genuinely impacted your world.