My dad sold his cars to keep us in school –Shotunde, LASU best graduate

Oladimeji Shotunde, 22, has emerged as the best graduating student of the Lagos State University, Ojo, as he graduated with 4.95 CGPA from the Department of Business Administration in the 2018/2019 session. He shares with TUNDE AJAJA how he made it happen, the difficulties he encountered and his plans for the future

I never saw it coming. When I gained admission into Lagos State University, I wasn’t too clear on whether I would graduate with a first-class degree; I only had the mindset to graduate with a reasonable grade. However, I think what helped was the academic group I founded. I named it Excel Minds Academic Group. It was an organisation that catered for the academic welfare of over 10,000 members. Having such an academic platform became a motivation for me, because it meant I had to exemplify academic excellence myself.

I started with a 4.78 GPA, so I felt I could graduate with a first-class degree but not necessarily as the overall best because there were a lot of people ahead of me. I wasn’t even the best in my department. However, as time went on, I became more motivated, but it wasn’t until my third year that I began to lead in my department. I was mainly focused on service to humanity – running Excel Minds, doing tutorials, etc. It was in my fourth year that I knew I was the one leading the set; so, I had to put in the effort to push it through and I thank God I cleared all my courses.

The reward for academic excellence is very poor and some first-class graduates find it difficult to get good jobs. How do you feel about this?

There is a need for the government to realise that the educational system stimulates critical thinking, which is what leads to innovation and innovation is what propels the much-needed growth and development. So, it is pathetic to see that the government is not really giving education or academic excellence its place in the society. But that is not to discourage us. Moreover, I tell my colleagues that beyond the certificate, it’s incumbent on us to have the industry-specific skills and knowledge to really thrive out there. The value you are bringing to the table is now more important than the class of degree.