By Levinus Nwabughiogu
For Aarinola Blessing Olaiya, a native of Usin Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State, life hasn’t been harsh and brutish. She was born into relative wealth. Her father was already a lawyer and her mother a head teacher when she was born. All she needed was the determination to fly.
In 2011, she was admitted into Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, to study medicine and surgery. By dint of hard work, she scored a Cumulative Grade Point (CGPA) of 4.74 in her first year. In her second year, she scored distinction in anatomy, medical biochemistry and physiology; third year, distinction in medical biochemistry and pharmacology; fourth year, distinction in pathology and pharmacology; fifth year, distinction in obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and dermatology and sixth year, distinction in surgery.
By this feat (distinction in 11 courses), Aarinola, 24, achieved a feat in medicine and community health that was last recorded about 28 years ago at OAU, and for which she earned commendation by the House of Representatives at plenary.
She spoke to Sunday Vanguard.
“I was born in Akure, Ondo State, into the family of Mr and Mrs Ralph Kolawole Olaiya. My father is a lawyer while my mother is a retired head teacher. I hail from Usin Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State. I am the third of four children, second of two females.
“My childhood days were in Ikere-Ekiti where I attended Peace and Joy Model School between 1998 and 2003. My dedication to education and the manifestation of the excellent spirit in me started quite early in life as I got my first scholarship in primary four as the best student among my mates. I was also appointed as the Assistant Senior Girl. I left the primary school as the best pupil in 2003.
I immediately proceeded to the Federal Government Girls’ College, Efon-Alaaye Ekiti where I had my secondary education and passed out in 2009. I was appointed the Assistant Head Girl in my final year and carted away 22 prizes on our graduation day. I was also given the award of the most versatile student by my then school Principal.
Harvest of distinction
“I was admitted into the university to study medicine & surgery, my dream course, in 2011. I was absolutely steadfast, goal oriented and purpose – driven in the pursuit of my academics. I finished my 100L with CGPA of 4.74 in that same year. Subsequently, I had the following distinction: 200L: Distinction in anatomy, medical biochemistry and physiology; 300L: Distinction in medical biochemistry and physiology; 400L: Distinction in pathology and pharmacology; 50OL: Distinction in obstetrics and gynaecology, mental health and dermatology; 600L: Distinction in surgery.
The real me
“I must say that it is absolutely wonderful to be opportune to have achieved this level of success throughout all my years of academics. In fact, breaking the 28 years record was just a coincidence & a privilege because I never set out to break any record. I was just preoccupied with doing what I felt was expected of me & every other thing fell in line.
“Early in life, I have always had this drive to be great. There has always been a part of me with this yearning to be impactful wherever I find myself. I sincerely believe there is a spirit of excellence at work in me. Also, I have always been thorough and dedicated to my academic pursuits, always putting in my very best at every stage of my life. I pride myself as a focused, goal – oriented young individual. I was steadfast in my quest to becoming great. I am that sort of person that recognizes opportunities and fully harness them even when others are still yet to fully come to terms with them.
The role my parents played
My parents have been absolutely supportive throughout the years. My dad has always been instrumental in the adequate funding of my education. My mum, being a teacher, taught me how to read and write. They both have remained my constant source of support and motivation. My siblings have also been an encouragement. I owe it all to them.
“I was also fortunate to have been tutored by excellent teachers who gave their best in making us doctors. They simply poured themselves into us working night and day. I am what I am today because they played their roles adequately. I single out for mention Professor Bernice Adegbehingbe, the Dean of Clinical Sciences, for her tireless work to make sure we had a conducive environment for learning. She was constantly firing from all cylinders to ensure we had a world-class medical training. She was of immense benefit to all of us.
“I must also appreciate God for His grace on my life. I believe much of this would have been impossible were it not for His favour, mercy and enablement. His grace was exceedingly abundant and for this I am eternally grateful.
“I did not do any ‘magic’ while in medical school. I am that person that loves to get better day by day. I strive to beat my former achievements constantly and, for me, mediocrity is not an option. I can really be meticulous and serious with my studies. The encouragement i received from my parents, my siblings and teachers went a long way in encouraging me to always be better because aside disappointing myself, i couldn’t come to terms with disappointing them. So, I was consistent with reading my books, attending my lectures, postings as well as calls. The healthy relationships i had with my senior and junior colleagues also went a long way in helping me to achieve the academic feat.
“I feel fulfilled. I never thought I would end medical school with breaking a record.
Advice to students
“My advice for young Nigerians is that they should remain focused and dedicated to achieving their goals. I believe that everybody can achieve greatness; it just requires one to put in extra efforts. They should always put God first and acknowledge Him in all their ways. Worthy of note is the fact that they should not be in competition with other people but with themselves. Lastly, build strong and healthy relationships with people you meet along your path, you never know who would be of help to you as you move in life.”
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