Lagos — Favour Asuquo, a 22 year-old from Akwa Ibom state emerged University of Lagos (UNILAG) best graduating student at the varsity's golden jubilee convocation, held in Lagos few days ago. She speaks with Daily Trust. Excerpts:
Who is Favour Asuquo?
I'm the second of three girls. We all secured admission to UNILAG. My younger sister is still studying law here in the varsity. We all had a good upbringing from our parents. My father is a naval officer and we grew up in the barracks. We attended Nigerian Navy Schools for our primary and secondary school education. We have nice parents. They take good care of us and we consider them the best in the world.
How do you feel, emerging as the best graduating student?
It is very heartwarming and quite overwhelming too. But now I thank God for seeing me through because I never knew I could emerge as the best graduating student. At first, it was shocking. But all in all, I am very happy, now I feel good.
What are the strategies you adopted to emerge best student?
Well, everybody appreciates the fact that UNILAG has lots of social activities. We have quite a number of social stuff going on here. But I have both primary and secondary objectives for being in the school. So, when those secondary objectives were conflicting with the primary one, which is for me to get a very good result, I shoved them aside. I was dedicated to my books and was also focused.
What factors will you say helped you in achieving this?
God helped me a lot. Then, my parents, friends and associates also supported. In fact, my parents are quite exceptional. They are always there to support me. Whenever I have an idea of what to do, they don't hesitate to support me and for me, that makes them the best parents. And among my colleagues, my class rep, Victor Udoh often encouraged me.
What were the challenges you faced in the cause of your study?
Well, I will say I know the basis for my coming to the school. There is a primary objective for me. So when those challenges came, I never allowed them to demoralize me or get me off the track of success.
Can you mention specifically, what these challenges were?
Yea. When I first came in, I had a serious challenge with accommodation and when eventually I secured accommodation, there were issues of power cut that sometimes prevented me from reading. Since I lived in a hostel, there were noisy mates who sometimes made reading and studying difficult because of their lousiness and all of that. There was a kind of pressure too sometimes.
How will you describe your stay in UNILAG and how has this affected your life?
UNILAG has helped in reshaping my life. Academically, I am a better person than I was four years ago when I first came in. And as a citizen of Nigeria, I know better what is expected of me. Of course, UNILAG is a good school. It was fun studying here. There were ups and downs no doubt but it was all okay. I think I really felt bad when they said the institution's name will be changed to MAULAG. We all know, the name UNILAG is a brand, you can't just change it like that.
There are cases of sexual harassment in school; did you at any point experience that, either from fellow students or lecturers?
Well, not at any point in time. Of course, I heard once in a while cases of male lecturers harassing female students but often times, such ended up being mere rumours with no substantive evidence.
People believe intelligent students hardly have time for social activities; do you have a social life style?
Yes, I do. I have friends who we go out to the cinema together to watch movies and sometimes even go out to dance Salsa. It is a kind of Mexican dance.
Do you still read after you must have participated in Salsa?
Yes the Salsa class was really good for me. Although we do have it on weekends. I have a friend in the drama group known as Henry who was taking me there. But I had to stop at a time when it was getting more demanding. You see, some people only read when the examination is near. That is unlike me because I ensure that I go through my note anytime we are through with a particular course. And to that extent, it made my studies easier.
And what was your study routine like?
Yes, I was able to discover early enough that I'm good at studying at night, so I do read for about two or three hours between the hours of 10 pm and 12 am or 1 am.
What was your longest hour of studying?
My longest hour of studying was five hours. And I don't read a particular course alone; at least I read up to three courses at a time. I start with the course I enjoy most and end with the one I consider most tasking.
What was your most challenging period while in UNILAG?
That was our first semester in year one. Because we were new to the system, most of the courses we took then appeared quite difficult.
Your best moment?
When I passed an examination which many people considered to be the toughest.
What made you choose your course of study?
Well, as you know, I graduated from Accounting and Accounting is a language of business. Besides, I enjoy participating in practicals; I really don't like theories, so accounting provided me that platform.
What are your aspirations after graduation?
I will like to do a Masters Degree, I also have a couple of examinations that I would be sitting for and more importantly, I will also like to do my ICAN among other things.
What will you miss about this school?
I will surely miss my friends and the hall that I used to stay. It used to be fun out there. I will surely miss a lot about the school.
Do you have a boyfriend?
Why? Is it because you are a bookworm?
No, I'm not a bookworm. I just feel there are some things that need to be done at a point in time. And besides I hear that there are some people who have high blood pressure when they are disappointed by men. I even have a friend who till today holds her estranged boyfriend responsible for scoring low in some of her courses. I really don't want that to happen to me.
But do you relate with male students at all?
Yes I do. Most of them are my friends.
What will be your advice to undergraduate students?
They should focus on their studies and make friends with those who will inspire them and assist them in growing up. They should avoid having friends that will take them down. I remember vividly that I made friends at higher level whom I often ran to at the beginning of the semester on how do I do this or that? And their contributions to my life have eventually paid off because it really assisted me. So, for those still at undergraduate level, I will say they should endeavour to cultivate friends that will assist them academically and otherwise.
I will also like to say it is possible to achieve success notwithstanding the fear your peers might want to instill in you. So everything boils down to a mindset. Some students before coming to the school already have a mindset that it is hard. It is tough and because of such mindset they find themselves on the road to failure. But if one has a positive mindset, then it is quite certain that one can achieve success.