ROLE MODELS



Ovie Arhore, a Drilling Engineer shares with us how he rose from a very humble background and no teachers in secondary school to being an engineer as he had always dreamt irrespective of the hurdles he had to cross.


RT: Please give us a quick summary of your teenage days?
Ovie: I grew up in a family of 9 with 6 sisters and my parent. Growing up was not so easy because things were quite tough but I believe with focus and determination in life, things will turn out as planned.
I attended Amuwo Odofin Secondary School, a state government owned school that people belief you cannot achieve anything educationally if you attend, but I was inspired to work hard by an uncle who was a university trained engineer and was doing very well. I made up my mind to get a University education, irrespective of what effort I had to put in.
While in junior secondary school, there were many times I didn't have teachers in relevant subjects like mathematics and integrated science and this was not encouraging. I had to go the extra mile of sourcing for recommended textbooks and studied them privately.
The same trend continued into my senior secondary class but this time it was a lot worse. I didn’t have a chemistry teacher in the whole of my SS1 class, the mathematics teacher was not regular as it was taken by serving youth corps members who were infrequent and I never had a further mathematics teacher, but I needed to know all these subjects in details to be able to study engineering at the university. I took the GCE exams while I was in SS2 on my father’s request. The preparation was a bit rough because I had to source for past questions and textbooks from my seniors while my parents managed to buy the ones I could not get.
Midway into my SS2 class, I had read text books for my entire GCE subjects. I had resolved to living a reclusive lifestyle to achieve this. My normal routine was to wake up at 5am, study till like 6:30am, go to school, get back, do my chores and study till 8pm. I stopped playing soccer, going out with friends and just kept on studying because I needed to complete my WAEC syllabus.
Before the end of my SS2 class which is the period we write GCE, I had succeeded in reading the whole of my Chemistry text book from front to back, covering even my SS3 topics, the same applied to Physics, Biology and several other subjects, that I became reasonable confident to write the exams. When I eventually wrote it in SS2, I got an A1 in mathematics, A2 in physics, and Chemistry, A3 in Biology and credit in most of my other courses; so before the commencement of my SS3 class, I already had an ‘O’ level result I could use to apply to the university.
Not only did my lifestyle change, I also made new friends who were people that studied as hard as I did, but I was still worried about how I would pay for my university education. A friend advised that if I could get near-perfect ‘O’ level grades I could win a scholarship. That advice motivated me read and study harder. When I wrote the WAEC exams, I had A1 in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, agricultural science and A2 in economics. I had an A3 in further mathematics and C5 in English language.
The next step was getting admission into the university. I wrote the JAMB exam, chose University of Lagos (UNILAG) for Chemical Engineering and was admitted with the first batch of students into the university

RT: How old were you at the time?
Ovie: I was 18years old when I wrote the WAEC exam in SS3.

RT: Wow! That was the peak of your teenage years when people expected you to be experimenting with all sorts of vices in your environment. Could you please tell us the kind of environment you grew up?
Ovie: I grew up in Maza-Maza,very close to Festac town. While growing up, I did not have too many role models to aspire to be like in my environment but like I say, people should learn to be objective and analyse things differently from the status qua and try to make a difference in their lives. If I had lived by the standard of my environment, then I wouldn’t have passed my exams on the first attempt.
I started living a quiet life and made friends with people I thought would influence me positively, so I would not get distracted negatively and it paid off eventually.
I didn’t have any inspiration from my environment, except from a friend that was doing exactly the same thing I was doing by spending the whole day reading, while the other children around didn’t think going to the university was a priority. Even though your environment can influence you, bulk of the determination to succeed lies in you. I really appreciate the encouragement from my parents, even though things were not so good financially. They did their best to give me as much as they could.

RT: How did u survive financially since you had little money.
Ovie: I was lucky to have attended a federal university where tuition fee was very affordable even to the common man because that solved my biggest challenge of university funding. During holidays, even though I was studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Lagos, I would go to my mother's shop to help sell food stuff and even grind pepper just to assist and help make ends meet.
At the end of my 1st year, I won a scholarship from one of the oil and gas companies in Nigeria and also got a Flour Mills scholarship, all based on merit and academic excellence. These scholarships made my life a lot easier. Also my parents gave me monthly allowance which ranged between N1500 to N2000. I really do not like remembering  those days because I had to be very prudent with my expenses and had to buy only essential things.

RT: Were the scholarships to cover you entire stay in school or it expired after each session?
Ovie: The scholarships depended on you getting a minimum of 3.0 GPA every session, to be able to get the benefits of the company continuously.

RT: That means you had to keep up your grades for you to keep the scholarship.
Ovie: Exactly

RT: Did they cover just tuition or tuition and some pocket money to buy some fine cloths and shoes?
Ovie: It was one bulk money paid to you, which you have to learn how to manage depending on the situation you find yourself, a few of my friends who benefited from the scholarship spent theirs in just a month, but mine sustained me the whole year because I knew i had no other alternative and I wanted my parents to concentrate on my 3 sisters who were also in the university at that time. Hence, from beginning of my second year to graduation, I became completely independent from my parent by spending my scholarship allowance thriftily.

RT: Did you see yourself as a teenager all through that period or you just saw yourself as the Ovie that wants to make life happen for himself?
Ovie: I never saw myself as a teenager who is totally dependent on the parents. I just did what was expected of me and I had strict parents especially my mum. I never even visited a female hostel in the whole of my 1st year in the university, never had a girlfriend until I was in the 3rd year of my university study. My target was how to get myself educated so that i could be independent useful to people around me.

RT: So, what happened to all the fine girls you were seeing since you were a teenager?
Ovie: lol, I guess I just felt they were distractions coupled with the fact that I was shy and above all, I spent most of my time studying indoors. I remember always being under the lantern at night studying so I actually had no time for the opposite sex and they will always say I was not exposed because I did not do what they did at that time, like trying to be in vogue, partying etc

RT: But really, how did u cope with your peers taunting at that time, did you feel left out, left behind, lagging, inferior, etc...?
Ovie: Initially I felt left out, but when my result started coming out, they started giving me some sort of respect and I kind of cut off from many people I grew up with as kids to concentrate on my future. Now I have many great friends scattered round the world today.

RT: How did u cope during the left out period?
Ovie: I did not feel so much ostracised because I was always with my books, so I had something to do. It is only when you are idle that you feel bad. I always had a book to read, so it was all fine for me irrespective of what people said. Although, people may say, I missed out on my adolescent days. This might be true, but I replaced it with something that paid off better, you win some and loose some, your today determines your tomorrow, so you need to have priorities and preferences of your wants in life.

RT: Research has it that the major challenge teenagers face is handling sexual urges; can you tell us how u handled yours?
Ovie: Sexual urge is really not much of a problem if you are a virgin I think and also, the friends you follow determines what you will be predisposed to; fortunately for me, I had very academically inclined male friends who didn't really see the need to have girlfriends because first I did not even have any extra money to spend on anyone, so I wasn't so exposed to situations that will put me in an extreme situation, I always discuss academics with my friends and hardly discussed girls because we were all competing to get into top federal schools in Nigeria. At that time, my mother would practically have killed me if she heard I had a girlfriend. Am not saying that I was not interested in girls, but that came at a later time when I could handle it. There was a time I tried to ask a girl out but she made a mockery of me in the midst of my friends. That was the last time I asked a girl out till I got into the university.

RT: ROTFL…….. What if she did not make a mockery of you, would she have ended up as your girlfriend?
Ovie: Well, I noticed that it was an ephemeral affection, which i couldn't have sustained; I would not have had time to be a good boyfriend to her because my education was my priority at that time. 

RT: It was a crush that you naturally would not sustain, thank you for your honesty
Ovie: You are welcome

RT: Did you at any point feel sorry for yourself because of your finances? Would you have quit school to make more money?
Ovie: I never saw quitting school as an option and would never had quit school for any reason, I felt I was lucky to be admitted into Unilag and would go through any stress to get the degree. There were times I felt bad about my finances and even compared myself to these new found friends in Unilag whose parents could afford to give cars to drive in school. I was able to carry on because   self-pity solves no problem but instead, with a focus and hard work, you can achieve many things. Nothing good comes easy. When people see me today, they say I am enjoying life but they don’t know what I went through while growing up. Your success tomorrow has a lot to do with what you put into life today, so if you think education is so difficult, then you have to be ready to face the consequence of your actions in the future. A lot chose to go into internet fraud which I do not see as an option, just imagine what could happen to your hopes, dreams and aspirations when you get caught.

RT: Did you at any point during your teenage days become ego-centric and feel your parents had no right to correct you?
Ovie: Of course I did, it’s a natural instinct for young people to feel rebellious at certain times in life. I think I realised my responsibilities early in life, so I didn’t have much problems with my parents while growing up. I helped them out in the shop and so many other things they wanted me to do, so I wasn't so much of a trouble.

RT: Did events play out after graduation as you had wished and fantasised in your mind?
Ovie: Well, not perfectly as I had envisage things to be but at the same time it was not too bad either as I was able to do my National Youth Service Corp with Nestle Nigeria Plc. Six months into youth service year, I got my first job offer which was a banking job and the bank waited for me to resume six months later after the end of my service year, so I was kind of relieved during my service period that I had a job already. After spending a year and a half in the banking Industry, I got my first job as an engineer in an oil company and it has been full of challenges and good experiences after then being involved in operations that cost millions of naira and having to contribute technically to making the whole operation a success.

RT: Has it been smooth ride since you got your job as an engineer, with all the money you can imagine and the life style u wish for?
Ovie: Well, Engineering has brought a lot of job satisfaction and career fulfilment to me because it is something I had always wanted to do since I was a kid and it has been able to pay my bills and also given me opportunities to development myself further.
For every teenager out there, please remember to work hard today and be determined succed so that you can have a beautiful fairy tale future. With God on your side, remember, you can do all things.........

2 comments:

  1. Very inspiring! Thumbs up Ovie.

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  2. Dear Ovie,

    Good to know that some of our youth still believe in hard work, diligence and complete trust in God. Please tell your story to as many youth as you can, there is a lot to learn from it.

    ReplyDelete