Two female graduates of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, have broken the 21-year first-class dearth in the Department of English at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
The duo, Kehinde Lawal and Roheemah Arogundade finished with 4.56 CGPA, breaking the absence of a First Class graduate, after Akinmade Akande, now a professor of English, attained the feat in 1997.
They both graduated in 2015/2016 but had their convocation on Wednesday at the institution's 43rd joint convocation ceremony which held at Amphitheatre Oduduwa Hall of the school.
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Ms Lawal, from Osun State, said her background contributed to the success.
"My daddy was very strict about academics and he kept telling his children that his only inheritance for them was a good education and a wise child would make good use of the opportunity," said Ms Lawal.
"My mummy too, all she wants is the best. She complains when she sees 70A and she says always that she is sure there is someone in the class with 80A.
"I have a lot of siblings, older and younger ones. I look up to my elders and try my best to impress them because I know they have their eyes on me. And, because I have so many younger siblings too, I always strive for excellence because I know they look up to me."
When asked about her life on campus, she said she did a lot of things as an undergraduate.
"Yes, I did a lot of things as an undergraduate. I had a part-time job, I enrolled in French classes and wrote French international examinations. In part 2, I became a member of Nasels communication bureau, the press outfit of the department of English.
"Gradually, I became the Assistant Managing Editor and I was the Editor in Chief when I was in my final year. I was a member of the Nasels' week planning committee in part 1 and 3. Also, secretary, audit committee in part 2. Generally, I was active and I had so many other things doing apart from academics.
"I experienced some really difficult times in school but I wouldn't want to call them "challenges". As people say, nothing good comes easy. So I take the tough times experienced as a necessity for a greater accomplishment.
She said Nigerian institutions find it difficult competing with their international counterparts.
"This is why most rich people and even Nigerian politicians send their children to private schools in Nigeria or send them abroad, to have their degrees. The curriculum, which is generally the total learning experience put in place for learning to take place, is not so encouraging in most Nigerian institutions but I am optimistic that things will get better."
She, however, advised younger generation that nothing is impossible and that they should never give up by giving in to fear of failure.
"Graduating with a first class from the department of English OAU had been tagged impossible, for years. This belief had discouraged and misled a lot of people. No matter how impossible people assume a task to be, we should not let their assumptions affect the motivation to attain success in anything we do," Ms Lawal said.
Also speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Ms Arogundade, from Ibeju Lekki, Lagos State, said her background also contributed significantly towards achieving her feat.
"I grew up in the family where it is believed that education is a key to unlocking countless opportunities in the outside world," said Miss Arogundade. "That is the reason I dedicate the success to my family."
However, unlike Miss Lawal who was involved in several activities while on campus, Ms Arogundade was not so engaged in varying activities.
"Well, I did multitask to a certain extent, but not fully," she said.
She also spoke on some of the loopholes in the education sector, particularly on the unstable academic calendar which, one way or the other, was said to have 'contributed to her challenges.'
She advised the younger generation not to succumb to disappointments.
"You can achieve anything if your mind can conceive it. Never neglect prayers and God is the only owner of life."
It would be recalled that the university's convocation for 2015/2016 was supposed to hold last December but it was postponed indefinitely, following the industrial action of non-teaching staff.