Folafoluwa Oginni, the 21-year-old Nigerian girl who recently scored a distinction in the Law programme and emerged as the 2017 best graduating student from the University of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, speaks with Saturday Tribune on her life, passion and future plans.
Scoring As throughout in Law is quite a feat. You have made history with this result. To what would you ascribe the achievement?
As always, I give all the glory to God. In actual fact, I did have one very upsetting B in my second year, but thankfully, it did not count towards my final grade.
There were some really long nights in the library but God helped me through it all.
I am a go-getter; when I put my mind to something, I work tirelessly towards achieving it. There were actually times my parents had to call me really early in the morning to insist that I went to bed, as I could sometimes go overboard without pausing to rest. I do love studying a lot, and academics just gives me such a thrill.
I also think the fact that I studied a course of my own choosing, something I actually enjoyed, also helped.
How does it feel being celebrated home and abroad?
It feels really amazing. Though sometimes overwhelming,the outpouring of love back home and even here in the UK is a joy, and I am so grateful for all the good wishes and prayers.
Did you really set out to read Law or was it just by accident? Why not medicine, like your dad?
When I was younger, I actually set out to be a medical doctor, just like my dad. It was almost an unspoken rule at the time in Nigeria that the smarter students went into Sciences. Also, when I started using glasses at the tender age of 9, I was convinced it was meant to be, as all the doctors I knew used glasses as well.
As I grew older, however, I realised how passionate I was about championing the cause of those less out-spoken than myself. I got into trouble so many times as a child for trying to defend people, especially when it was really none of my business. I also discovered a passion for writing alongside a knack for public speaking. At this point, I realised that my natural skills and inclinations were better suited for Law.
Where would you want to see yourself 10 years from today?
Whatever area of law I decide to go into, I hope in 10 years from now, I am climbing swiftly up the career ladder. I would also love to have a PhD under my belt by then, as I really do like academics.
Beyond that, in 10 years, I hope to have gained sufficient capacity and empowerment to enable me to make a difference in the Nigerian educational system.
Who is that person that has exerted the greatest influence on your life so far?
Both my parents are highly influential in my life. Their opinions mean a lot to me, so I would say, perhaps, my parents. My elder sister is another person who exerts quite some influence on me, as she always has my best interests at heart.
Also, as a Christian, my relationship with God is a big part of my life.
Did you ever dream you would be this great?
I have always dreamt of, imagined and even practised speaking to really important people. I am a big dreamer, so I do spend quality time picturing my future. However, my dreams are not always totally specific and sometimes I end up surprising myself positively. Whatever I do, I just always set out to pursue excellence and continually challenge myself.
It is crucial that I keep pushing and striving for more success, never resting on my (laurels). That is how I stay hungry for greatness.
Can you give us a glimpse into your background; how and where you were brought up?
I grew up in Osun State Nigeria with my parents and two sisters in a loving Christian home. We are quite a close-knit family, so I grew up with love, laughter and friendship.
My parents are strict disciplinarians and they were very big on our academic performances; so it was pretty much a highly studious home environment. However, there was always time to relax and have great family time.
I think one of the things I am most grateful for about my upbringing is the freedom to study my course of choice even when people felt that my going to the Arts class was a waste of potential.
Do you have any advice for your compatriots at home in Nigeria?
I am aware that a lot of people in my generation are very frustrated with the Nigerian system and leadership that have failed us so badly. However, I do believe that our dreams should never fit inside any box of limitation.
So, I would advise that we continually dream big, passionately pursue excellence at all times and stay motivated, irrespective of the reality around us.
Most of all trust in God to lead and direct you at all times. You could never go wrong with God leading you.
I am positive that my generation will effect a massive change in Nigeria.