I was having lunch with some friends a couple of weeks ago when one of us came up with the gist of a 26year www.royal-tribe.blogspot.comold lady that was graduating with a PhD degree from the University of Lagos that very day. For a split second everyone on the table kept quiet, tried to interpret what the guy just said, we were all ina shock! If it was in the western world, yes, we could let it slip and say it is normal, but in Nigeria?!. Did JAMB not jam her at all or ASUU add some extras to her days in school, how did she do it?! I asked what she studied and I was told BOTANY. Oh, please….. What a course to study, no wonder, we just laughed it off and swept it under the carpet. It occurred to me later, I might not appreciate the course the lady studied, but she has excelled in it and broken the institution’s record, that was no easy thing to do, she must have some great values that she employed in achieving this. So, I decided to go find her and have her share these values with us. To my greatest surprise, she did not decline my request; instead, she pleasantly welcomed me and shared her success story. I’m so delighted to introduce to us, Dr. Temitope Olabisi Adeyemi.


So, Who Is She?
My name is Temitope Olabisi Adeyemi, the first child in a family of two, the only girl, I have a younger brother. I grew up in Lagos Island, Akanni Street, a street between Oluwole and Agarawu. Oluwole is an area infamously known for fraud and forgery of documents, while Agarawu is notoriously known for drugs. I grew up with most of my cousins; it was pretty much an extended family. I enjoy watching movies, I preferred just to attend classes as most of the lessons taught stick, I’ll just have to read a bit and I’ll be ready  for my tests and examinations. Well, that was my nature while growing up. I attended Girls Academy, Lagos Island. It was very painful having to go on low cut while in secondary school, but I had no choice since that was what was required by the school. My stay in Girl Academy was very memorable, I came second once in my first year and I told myself that would be the last time I would come second in class, its either first position or first position and it was first position from that time till I graduated because I just felt the girl that came first has the same head and same brain, so, I could use mine the way she had used hers or even use mine better. I was made the deputy head girl of the school because I was an introvert. This position really gave me a lot of exposure, I had to learn to face a crowd to speak (this I would never have done) and I had to represent the school at several competitions.
Attending a girl’s only school was interesting, we had loads of boys coming to our school in search of girlfriends for themselves. Most of my friends had boyfriends, but I never joined them. This is because I did not want to be a disappointment to my parents and I knew I was in school because I needed to study and not hangout with boys. Again, I saw the way the guys treated my friends, they were nice to them at first, but once they get to sleep with my friends, they threw them off and acted like they never met, that was the end of the relationship and I just didn’t want to be a prey. So, dating for me in secondary school was a “NO” “NO”. I saw it as a distraction and I had to kick it out of my dictionary and that helped to focus more on my academics.
Living in my kind of neighborhood made me an indoor person, once I got back from school, I remained indoors. Surviving in my neighborhood had a lot to do with my parents; my mum would always time you for any errand you run outside the house for her, getting in a minute late would mean you having to bail yourself. This really helped me to ward off unwanted advances; my grandparents had a reward system running, you get rewarded for being a good kid and it was something to look forward to. I learnt to have fun within my house to avoid the negative influence from my neighborhood.
Dr. Adeyemi as a girl
Temitope Adeyemi, one of the top 10 contestants at the Lagos State Spelling Bee Competition, 2001.
I was admitted into the University of Lagos to study Botany about two weeks to examination, not the course that I wanted but I was advised by my neighbor not to waste my time staying home. I could accept the admission, start off with Botany then switch later to the course of my choice. I followed this advice, only to realize I needed two years to qualify to do this but I was not ready to lose that any year. At the end of 100level, I had a grade point of 3.25 and I told myself that would be the least I would ever have, so, I tried to make it better every semester. The following semester, I had a GP of 3.75 and that was the beginning of the build. We were told that in the history of the department, no one had ever graduated with First Class; so I took it as a challenge to break the jinx. My initial dream was to become a medical doctor, so I told myself I was going to do well in the medical school, I should be able to make the best of Botany too. I gave myself a G.P target of a minimum of 4.0 for a bad semester and every semester must be better than the previous one. Also, my mentor in secondary school graduated with a second class upper grade division from the university and had told me I had to surpass him, so, the only option I had was to graduate with a first class, hence, my motivation. I was able to graduate with a first class by the grace of God, but the jinx was broken by the set before mine.
After graduation, I figured out since I wanted to be a doctor, I could as well go for a PhD and still become a doctor, so, the race started!
I had to do a lot of reading when I got into the university unlike my secondary days when I read a little and attended classes to grab everything. I realized that would only fetch me an average result and there were times I did not hear what the lecturer was saying, so, reading more was the only option I had. Also, knowing myself to be a day person, I ensured I made the most of my day; read all I could during the day, the library was my nest. I had friends that could stay up all night studying, but the time I tried it, I slept all through and ended up not studying. Not allowing my school notes to pile up before studying really helped me. I read and made sure I understood every note right after the lecture, this helped to take a lot of pressure off me during test and examination period. This helped me to relax; I could even see movies during exam period.
My stay in the University of Lagos was memorable, I was social, not a party freak, I had friends, attended departmental events and hall week celebrations; I won Miss Botany at our departmental dinner in Year2. I balanced my spiritual, academic and social lives, but never went overboard socially, I knew my boundaries and had my morals intact. I was an active member of my fellowship, I was even known for this as I shared the gospel with a lot of my friends and invited them to fellowship with us. I kept God in the picture all through my stay in the university, He is an important factor; I never substituted fellowship time for study time nor vice versa, I had a schedule that I worked with so did not have to stop going for  the fellowship because it was examination or test period. I gave God what belongs to Him and gave the school what belonged to them. I attended lots of departmental events.

My youth service year marked my second stay outside Lagos state, first lesson of independence and a test of my determination. I served in Kano State, Kiru Local Government; in a boy’s only secondary school where the students hardly understood English. I had to learn to speak Hausa language and also teach them English language. At this time the school had no Agricultural Science teacher, I had to teach all the classes agric science, from JSS1 to SSS3. It was challenging at first, but came naturally to me after sometime. I was known for being prompt, did not go to school or my classes late, I did what I needed to do at the appropriate time. I had it I mind that I was coming back home to start my Ph.D. program and I’ll be needing money, so, I developed a saving culture, I invested in stock, bought goods from the North and sent them down to Lagos for sale. All these I did with the stipend I was being paid by the federal government. During this time, I got closer to God because I had no relatives there; I had to depend on Him for guidance and counsel. I made sure I stuck to my dream and did not allow myself to be distracted by what other people were doing.
Right after my service year, I came back to Unilag and got on track for my Ph.D. program. This program exposed me to a lot internationally as I travelled round all the West African countries while doing my research work. I had to go to Madagascar, Cameroon and South Africa for training. Towards the end of my research work, I had to spend 4 months in the UK, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. I also had to go to the US for some conferences to present what I had done so far. My supervisor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, was very supportive and believed in me, that was enough motivation for me. He is a good mentor; he even helped when I had financial challenges.
By the grace of God, I emerged as the best graduating student during the convocation ceremony in February 2012, it was an icing on the cake for me because I had worked so hard and learnt a whole lot. It was God blessing my efforts and a thank you gift for my supervisor and my parents for all their support and investments, as my mum made a lot of sacrifices for me. Being called out to receive the award was just giving all the glory back to God that had seen me through all the years and efforts; He simply worked through all these time.

Dr. Adeyemi during her research
 work in Madagascar 
Dr. Adeyemi with some colleagues
in Madagascar 

My Core Value
·         Perseverance: I believe no matter how difficult a challenge is, once you can hold on to tackle it, it would propel you to greater heights. You lose when you give up. I know more challenges would come as I need to do more research and publications so as to move up the ladder in my chosen career as I have picked up a lecturing job in the University of Lagos, Botany department. I know God would see me. I thank Him for all the people He has brought along my way and I believe I will not let him down.

Word for the Teenagers
Life is beautiful. You might want to follow trends around you and want to be in vogue, wear what everyone is wearing, do what everyone is doing; a time would come when all these will no longer matter as something else would override it, so, u need to invest in what is important and cannot be overridden. Hard work pays, it is better to work hard now and enjoy the reward in future, than to lay about now in the name of having fun and have nothing secured for the future. If you have supportive parents, the least you should do is to come home with a good grade. Have a big dream for yourself, work hard towards your dream, think of the different things you need to achieve the dream and work towards it a day at a time. It is not going to be easy, but by the time you achieve your dreams, you will look back and see that it was worth the trouble.
Thank you and may God bless you. 

Dr. Adeyemi during the grand convocation and conferment
of her PhD degree.
Dr. Adeyemi during her BSc graduation


1 comment:

  1. This is really a source of inspiration.....

    You can be what you want to be; if you set your mind on it and work hard at it.... With God on one's side