YouTube Videos Helped a Lot, Says LASU’s Top Graduate Student
Olowu Benjamin Damilare, 21, is the top graduate student of Lagos State University (LASU) for the 2021/2022 academic session. With a CGPA of 4.97, Damilare came out on top of the 4,994 students who graduated first at the university’s 25th graduation ceremony.
In this interview, he shared his first-class journey to motivating others, saying he gave it his all from the start. He also shared how YouTube helped him put some of the things he learned in theory into practice.
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Who is Olowu Benjamin Damilare?
I am 21 years old from Ilara-Eredo, Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State. My father is a lecturer and professor emeritus of chemistry at LASU. My mother is a civil servant in the Lagos State Government, she is the Badagry Division Manager in the office of the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory (LSMTL).
I had my primary education at Saint Mary’s Nursery and Primary School, Ojo after which I entered her college for my junior high school education (JSS1 to JSS3). Later, I moved to Federal Government College, Ijanikin, where I completed high school and got my graduate school leaving certificate. I was admitted to LASU in 2015 to study Mechanical Engineering.
How did you get admitted to LASU?
LASU was not the original plan as I had not selected it as my preferred first choice in JAMB but at that time, LASU Post-UTME was open to all as it gave an opportunity to those who did not had not chosen as their first preferred choice. I grumbled at first to register for the Post-UTME, but my dad made me apply while waiting for when I get a response from the University of Ilorin. However, as at the time I had to apply, the application portal was closed, but God willing, my dad tried at midnight that day, luckily for me, it worked. Immediately he came to wake my sister and me up to tell her we had to send him any picture of ours just so we could apply and that was it. I believe it was God’s plan for me to attend LASU.
Regarding my resolution, getting into LASU, I really didn’t expect much. I just wanted to succeed in life and I knew that the next phase of my life would be a major determinant of my measure of success, so I just had to put in everything I had. Also, I learned that getting a good grade will also help to get a scholarship to study abroad for a postgraduate degree. So I had to give it my all from the start.
Can you give an aggregate of your results from level 100 to level 500?
In my freshman year, I had a perfect CPGA of 5.0/5.0. Moving up to the 200 level, I got my first B in the first semester, then another B in the second semester, making my CGPA 4.94/5.00.
I had a perfect 5.0 GPA throughout my 300 and 400 levels. At the 400 level, my GPA was already 4.97.
So in the first semester of 500 level I got another B, which didn’t affect my GPA, and then my last semester was a 5.0. Therefore, my cumulative grade point average is 4.97/5.00.
When did you find out you were a potential first-class graduate?
In fact, it was after my freshman year that I got my 5.00 CGPA, I knew I was going to graduate with a first class because I was willing to keep pressing until the end and I don’t can’t even imagine going to a 2:1 after getting such a good fundamental MPC.
What was your reading culture like and how did that help you achieve this feat?
Well when I was at level 100 my dad woke me up every day at 4am to read it wasn’t easy but it was part of what shaped my ability to persevere and do what was needed, no matter the situation. My second and third years were the most difficult because I read for long hours. Although I can’t really estimate the actual reading time, it was such that when I’m tired of sitting, I stay in a standing position to read. After that, the workload decreased a bit and my reading only lasted two to three hours at most.
Besides reading, what do you do on campus?
Besides reading, I have other hobbies like playing video games and participating in several sports activities such as playing billiards, basketball, table tennis, etc. I am really a versatile person.
What was the hardest part of your study program, Mechanical Engineering?
The fact that most of what we did in school was more abstract than practical was a bit difficult. One of the resources I used to overcome this challenge was watching videos from YouTube so I could get a hands-on view of what the working process and operation look like. It kind of helped me understand the course better.
Did your father’s presence on campus as a lecturer/professor influence your performance or curry favor with you?
I wouldn’t say he did or didn’t, but what I will say is that his presence in most cases caused his colleagues and even my lecturers to impose some kind of standard that I have to live up to with speeches like ‘You gotta make your dad proud’ or ‘You know your dad’s a lecturer, you gotta keep the flag high’ and so on. All those words made me focus so I’m not shaming to his name.
How did you find life on campus and how did you deal with distractions?
Campus life was full of ups and downs, especially after passing through the Epe campus. It was difficult to adapt to the environment because it had nothing to do with the Ojo campus. Later, I got used to it and I managed to find myself in it, to overcome its limits and to make the most of it.
For distractions, what I was doing was constantly reminding myself of what was at stake. So with that, I got back on track and kept pushing.
How did you cope during the ASUU strikes and the COVID-19 break?
During these times, I always keep myself busy by taking an online course or going to YouTube to improve my skills. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I was introduced to the forex market and spent all my time on charts. So overall I got busy.
Do you agree with the insinuations that it is easier to get first class at private universities than at public universities?
I do not agree. I believe that making a first class in any type of school is not an easy task. I believe that anyone who is serious and does the required work will get a first class in any school, whether it is a private or public higher education institution.
Have you participated in the school’s entrepreneurship program? If so, what skill did you acquire and how did it enrich your knowledge?
Yes I did it. I participated in the agricultural program, which gave me the knowledge to make the best use of the land to obtain agricultural products. I also learned about the importance and contribution of agriculture to the economy of the country as a whole.
Now that you’ve graduated, what’s next?
I plan to continue my graduate studies to get my Masters or possibly a PhD, as in the long term I plan to eventually pursue a career in academia.
There is a policy that allows LASU to employ interested first class graduates as graduate assistants, will you consider this option?
Of course, I will think about it because I don’t know what the future holds and also, I see it as an opportunity to give back to the university and impact the generation to come.
What advice would you give to the students who will follow you to succeed in their first lesson?
I will advise them to get a solid motivation as to why they want to get a top-notch degree and outline what they need to do to get it. It would really help them a lot, especially during their downtime. Also, they need to know their strengths and weaknesses, improve their strengths while simultaneously working on their weaknesses, and stay humble along the way.