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I doubted my abilities – UNIOSUN First-class law graduate

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Eniola Opaleye is a first-class law graduate from Osun State University and an aspirant to the Nigerian bar. She speaks about her academic journey and how she graduated with first-class in Law

How do you feel about graduating with first-class results?

It still feels like a dream, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone and God who made it possible. Looking back at my 100-level days, I admired my first-class senior colleagues and wondered if I could be a first-class student. I stopped social media for my academics, especially when it was close to exams. I’m glad it was worth it.

It feels fulfilling knowing I desired it and I achieved it. It’s a dream come true, considering the opportunities it has and will open for me.

Was there a time you were discouraged or felt the first class was impossible?

I had positive people around me; I didn’t have such an experience. I was so encouraged that I had people teaching me tricks and tips on getting my desired grade.

It’s very easy for people to criticise your goals or plans when they don’t share your vision, but keeping an “it will work” mindset will help achieve such a goal. So even if I had people who said such things, I wouldn’t have been discouraged. I believed so much in my abilities, and you can achieve whatever you desire.

How easy was it to graduate with a first-class?

It wasn’t easy, but I had a goal, and that kept me going. I had days I got tired of reading, felt like giving up on my goal, but I had my family and friends who provided the support I needed. 

Also, trusting God during those days helped me a lot. I cried a lot on days I didn’t get my desired results in some courses; trusting God during such phases helped me pull through. I remember falling ill and constantly visiting the school clinic once it was close to the exam period. It affected my reading hours during my first and second years, but I bounced back. It wasn’t easy graduating with a first-class, I had my trying moments, doubted my abilities and the possibility of graduating with a first-class towards my final year, but I’m glad I was consistent and I was able to achieve a 4.50 grade.

What did you do differently from others to achieve it?

Right from secondary school, I had been an exceptional student. I emerged as the best graduating student in my set. I just knew dropping the standard wasn’t an option. I did some things differently; it might not be different from some people though. 

I had a study pattern that was a bit difficult for some people. I can’t read without writing first in a jotter; which is separate from my course note. My dad taught me how to form my notes when I gained admission to the university, and I’m grateful for that.

I read every day after I had formed my notes with materials from the library, online materials and lecture notes. My reading hours were 9am to 3pm on days I didn’t have lectures, and then continued in the evening from 7pm to 1am; the break was to regain my strength. 

I read for more than 12 hours during exams because there was a lot to cover. I also read with my best friend. We were both excellence-driven, and that made it easy. I had my unmotivated days, and she was there to motivate me. I trusted God a lot during my journey, worked hard, walked with the right friends and was extremely focused.

Some believe studying law is difficult. Do you share the same opinion?

Law is voluminous, but not difficult. My second year looked so different and more difficult than my first year. It’s okay to feel that way, but the easiest way is to start reading early. The voluminous nature of the course makes it look difficult because you have several cases, laws and notes to understand. However, with the right people and knowing the study pattern that works for you, it shouldn’t be difficult.

Many law students refer to the long list of cases and voluminous articles associated with the law as hurdles to cross at every level, how did you cope?

I saw cases as stories and essentially read the important ones. Reaching out to senior colleagues at every level was something I did as well; they made the topics easy to understand, and as I said, I read every day.

Did you ever dream of becoming a lawyer?

I did. However, before graduating from secondary school, I had plans of studying mass communication. I saw myself becoming a journalist which was the dream of most art students then.

I had a change of mind when it was time to fill out my JAMB form in 2014. This was influenced by my dad and brother who felt law had more opportunities. So, the dream of becoming a lawyer started. I began to watch law series, thinking studying law was going to be as interesting as they acted. Then I gained admission to study law in 2015 and the journey started.

Did you have any difficulty in securing admission into university?

I had; this was a trying period. Everyone expected the best graduating student to secure admission easily after secondary school in 2014, but mine wasn’t forthcoming. I spent a year at home while I was studying for the next JAMB and Osun State University post-JAMB. In the end, it worked out in my favour.

Which parts of your course did you find most interesting and challenging?

The interesting part was when I could relate what I had been taught in a particular course to real-life scenarios. I remember getting back home for the holidays and my dad would expect me to give suggestions on certain legal matters and I would try to apply my little knowledge of the law; it all made law interesting to me.

Combining my position as the director of research of the Intellectual Property Law Club in my school with my academics in my final year and ensuring I remembered every principle of law during the exam was challenging. I had read lots of things, so it was easy to forget some cases or principles during the exam. I also missed sleeping well or sleeping for long hours.

What were your happiest moments?

It was when I was elected as the director of research of the Intellectual Property Law Club of Osun State University. I realised I had so many leadership skills and an amazing attitude to work. Also, my fourth year in school was filled with happy moments; I was the best student in a not-so-easy course. When I graduated from school, I was fulfilled, knowing my days there were utilised properly.

What is your advice to students who desire excellent results?

You can achieve academic excellence when you don’t compare yourself to your peers. Always use the study pattern that works for you, ask questions and reach out to senior colleagues for guidance.

Also, participate in activities or join organisations that would help you gain soft skills which are needed when you start working.

For the incoming students, your 100 level is very important. Once you have a solid CGPA, you can build on it to attain your desired result. Also, try to know how each lecturer loves their question to be answered and keep good friends that desire excellence.

Lastly, pray like you won’t read and read like you won’t pray.

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